Robert Moses & GTD

As someone who loves David Allen’s Getting Things Done, I couldn’t help but notice how often biographer Robert Caro references Robert Moses’s ability to, in his words, “get things done.” I don’t know if Allen ever read The Power Broker, but certain passages make it seem as if Moses embraced GTD decades before it existed:

“A third feature of Moses’ office was his desk. It wasn’t a desk but rather a large table. The reason was simple: Moses did not like to let problems pile up. If there was one on his desk, he wanted it disposed of immediately. Similarly, when he arrived at his desk in the morning, he disposed of the stacks of mail awaiting him by calling in secretaries and going through the stacks, letter by letter, before he went on to anything else. Having a table instead of a desk was insurance that this procedure would be followed. Since a table has no drawers, there was no place to hide paper; there was no escape from a nagging problem or a difficult to answer letter but except to get rid of it one way or another. And there was another advantage: when your desk was a table, you could have conferences at it without even getting up.” [1]

[1] Robert A. Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (New York: Vintage, 1975), 268.