To be honest, I struggled with this article. I wanted to write it but wasn’t sure how to convey what I was thinking. GTD has helped me as a man more than I realized but the impact has been implicit, not obvious.
How do we quantify what a man is and nail down the tasks that make a man? What activities does a man engage in? Pinpointing those tasks is a challenge in our equality-driven society. We strive for equality between men and women, but at the end of the day we are physically and mentally different, which means we’re each suited best for different types of work. Neither is any more or less important than the other, but they are different.
Knowing my own mind and reading what other respected men have to say on the subject, I think it’s fair to say that there are roles that fit men best. It’s these roles that I want to develop, using the GTD framework to create the freedom and focus I need to do so.
Atrophy is a real issue. If you stop working with a skill, your ability to use it will diminish over time. I find this to be especially true of focus and being able to stay on task. Brett McKay even suggests that idleness kills manliness. The premise here is that we need to keep moving and continue looking for ways to develop our internal motivation. We need activity to keep us on our toes - that’s where GTD steps in. We can use the structure of creating projects and choosing tasks to create this motivation. The specific project really depends on you and what you like to do. It also depends on the manly skills you enjoy using.
But what are manly skills? The stereotypical view of this might be swinging an ax or shooting guns and there’s some validity behind that stereotype. But it goes much deeper than that. The traditional view of manly skills can be generalized into skills of physical strength and violence. And those can be great skills to have, provided they are paired with wisdom and discernment (also manly skills). Without the latter, the former becomes dangerous. We need to develop our intellect, relationships, and leadership skills along with our physical abilities. The tasks we commit to need to include meetings with other men, books that challenge our thinking, regular times for physical activity, and opportunities to lead our families. Choose projects that take you out of that comfort zone we all love.
I find that I have a strong desire to be the provider for my family and I know I’m not alone. There are countless men I respect that admitted to feeling inadequate when they were without a job. And I know that when things are going well with my business I have a lot of confidence in what I do. When times are thin, I start to wonder about my ability to put food on the table. But GTD gives me an outlet for storing my ideas and creates a series of potential work that I can always kick off. It also helps me make better decisions about where to spend my time. It gives me a full view of my commitments and allows me to pick between them and stay on track.
If you don’t have regular time spent with other men, do something about it. The absolute best way I’ve received support and ideas for how to be a better man and lead a better life is by spending time with other guys and talking through what’s going on. Get it on the calendar and keep it there. Find some guys to do life with.
Defining the tasks that make a man is not simple. Some are obvious and some are subtle, but they are all important. The GTD framework makes it possible for you to keep up with life and stay on top of your role and skills as a man.