Do we know if time management systems work? By time management systems, I mean the absolutely mainstream GTD and the newer “Do it tomorrow” (DIT). This post points out the fact that we have no conclusive data.
We could guess that people who start a blog to praise the wonders of GTD should cont as evidence of it being effective. A quick search in technorati renders quite a few bloggers singing the virtues of GTD.
And it’s not only the numbers. Blogs that focus on time management (e.g., Lifehacker is ranked the 15th blog in the blogosphere 43folders, the 109th) are really high in popularity.It seems that in times where information is everywhere (thanks to the internet), people feel like prioritizing and managing their time is the only option to cope with the overload. Also, the fact that time management systems are usually geek-friendly (it can be done with the help of a computer! Boy oh boy!) makes them even more popular.
DIT, on the other hand, is not that popular so technorati analyses are not very helpful.
However, we cannot take this as evidence, because we are not considering people who
(1) tried the system, and concluded that it wouldn’t save much time for them.
(2) tried the system, and failed to maintain it, dropping off (see the costs of maintaining a time management system).
The problem is that noone has compared the effect of using a time management system vs. not using any, or for that matter, a comparison between time management systems. All we have is the n=1 designs of people who talk about their success in their blogs.
That way, the only thing one can do is either to make an ‘act of faith’ and buy into a time management system, or not doing it at all. There is no way to make an informed decision since there are no data on how effective they are (a bit like the ‘before’ and after’ pictures in the diet advertisements ).