Reflections on the 2019 GTD Summit

GTD for the family panel discussion with Eric Mack, Wendy Haddad, Mike Williams, and David Allen

Last week I had the incredible privilege of attending and participating on a panel at the 2019 GTD (Getting Things Done) Summit in Amsterdam.  This was a special opportunity for me as I have grown up with the GTD methodology my whole life and was able to participate on a panel in the first GTD Summit in San Francisco ten years prior. David and Kathryn Allen are dear friends of my family and it was wonderful to see them again and hear how the productivity techniques they developed have helped so many people. 

My panel discussed how to implement GTD for the family and what it was like to grow up studying productivity and efficiency techniques from a young age.  I look forward to sharing more about this topic in future posts.

Reflecting and networking in the beautiful Theater Amsterdam

The Summit was organized similar to a TED event with forty speakers and panelists presenting for five to twenty-five minutes.  As we prepared for our sessions, David shared that his desire was to make the Summit a “Campfire event” where people from all walks of life could share their stories about the techniques they have used and the lessons they learned along the journey to where they are today.  It’s important to note that these speakers came from all walks of life including the entertainment industry, school, business, military, psychology, hospital, and even space!   This communicated in a powerful, non-verbal way how transcendent and adaptable these principles are across every field.

Each of the stories could be collected into seven main topics:

  • Achieving balance and rest
  • Maintaining focus
  • Enhancing creativity
  • Feedback and improvement
  • Hacking your habits
  • Improving organizational productivity
  • Instilling productivity principles in the family

I will be diving deeper into each of these topics in future posts

Ove-Kenneth Nilson shares how GTD provides a clear space for creativity

One unexpected thing that stood out to me was that the Summit was organized in a way that modeled the above principles.  We were given lengthy breaks (50-90) minutes three times a day to balance the intake of knowledge with reflection and time for networking and discussion.  Each section began with stunning slow motion nature videos to allow us to reflect on beauty and give us a chance to appreciate and even become more creative.  Within each section, Marko Kassenaar briefly highlighted a figure or historical event that highlighted his love for the city of Amsterdam. This allowed attendees to become curious and aware of the culture around them.

My brain has been spinning with exciting ideas and takeaways from both the conference and the city of Amsterdam (there have been several mindsweeps and mindmaps over the last few days!), but I wanted to share a few that are top of mind for me as I reflected on the flight home:

  • Being more productive is not about getting more done, but rather about getting your work done efficiently to create space for rest, relationships, and creativity.
  • It’s important to pursue feedback (either self-reported or external), and guidance to correct bad habits and reinforce good ones.  If you haven’t solved it by yourself by now, you won’t solve it in the future.  Humility is key here.
  • The habits that GTD brings provides a listening tool that fosters trust in both professional and personal relationships.
  • Be intentional about the activities and environment you surround yourself with during your periods of rest

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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