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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

34 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

You WILL be able to get things done!

GTD rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally. That way, the mind is freed from the job of remembering everything that needs to be done, and can concentrate on actually performing those tasks.

GTD is ...
GTD rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally. That way, the mind is freed from the job of remembering everything that needs to be done, and can concentrate on actually performing those tasks.

GTD is based on making it easy to store, track and retrieve all information related to the things that need to get done. Allen suggests that many of the mental blocks we encounter are caused by insufficient 'front-end' planning (i.e., for any project we need to clarify what is to be achieved and what specific actions are needed to achieve it). It is most practical, according to Allen, to do this thinking in advance, generating a series of actions which we can later undertake without any further planning.

Allen contends that our mental "reminder system" is inefficient and seldom reminds us of what we need to do at the time and place that we can do it. Consequently, the "next actions" act as an external support which ensures that we are presented with the right reminders at the right time.

The core principles of GTD are:

Collect:

The notion of stress-free productivity starts with off-loading what needs to get done from one's head, capturing everything that is necessary to track, remember, or take action on, into what Allen calls a bucket: a physical inbox, an email inbox, a tape recorder, a notebook, a PDA, a desktop, etc. The idea is to get everything out of one's head and into a collection device, ready for processing. All buckets should be emptied (processed) at least once per week.

Process:

When processing a bucket, a strict workflow is required. If it takes under two minutes to do something, it should be done immediately. The two-minute rule is a guideline, encompassing roughly the time it would take to formally defer the action.

Organize:

Allen describes a suggested set of lists which can be used to keep track of items awaiting attention, including a calendar which is important for keeping track of appointments and commitments; however, Allen specifically recommends that the calendar be reserved for the hard landscape: things which absolutely have to be done by a particular deadline, or meetings and appointments which are fixed in time and place. To-do items should be reserved for the next action lists.

Review:

The lists of actions and reminders will be of little use if not reviewed at least daily, or whenever possible. Given the time, energy and resources available at a particular moment, one must decide the most important task to be done immediately, and do it. If one is inclined to procrastinate, one may end up always doing the easy tasks and avoiding the difficult ones. To solve this, one can decide to do the actions of the list one by one, following their order, just like processing an inbox.

Do:

Any organizational system is no good if excessive time is spent organizing tasks instead of actually doing them. Allen's contention is that if one can make it simple, easy, and fun to take the necessary actions, one will be less inclined to procrastinate or become overwhelmed with too many 'open loops'.

Phew! It's a lot, but it's a lot of useful information and a foolproof system once you get it all down.

Another book that I strongly recommend because it has helped me immensely when it comes to managing myself and keeping on track is: "The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book"

posted by David_Beck on January 13, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

30 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

Common Sense

Anyone who has decent organization skills should not buy this book. The whole book reiterates itself over and over and over and over and.... you get the picture. Let me summarize the book. Have a file cabinet and use it. Have a basket and put everything you have to do i...
Anyone who has decent organization skills should not buy this book. The whole book reiterates itself over and over and over and over and.... you get the picture. Let me summarize the book. Have a file cabinet and use it. Have a basket and put everything you have to do in it. Get everything off your mind by writing it down. Finally, go to your office supply store and load up on office supplies and organization products. After the first 75 pages, it becomes very redundant.

posted by 788146 on January 6, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2006

    If you don't have time to read it, get the audiobook

    I finally got the audiobook and found this book to be a life-saver. My desk has always been cluttered with 'stuff', and for the first time in years, it's clean! And my mind is clear. In addition, I'm beginning to apply the principles from his book at home as well, with great results! Definitely a book to have on your shelf or in your audio library.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2005

    Organize your life!

    This book helped me to overcome email overload. I was overwhelmed with thousands of emails in my inbox and didn't know how I could get a handle on the problem until I read this book. Now all my communications are in the right categories and I am continually up to date. This book is a practical system for day to day efficiency. I definitely recommend Dr Rosalene Glickman's book, Optimal Thinking: How to Be Your Best Self in conjunction with this book. Optimal Thinking optimized my thought process and taught me how to resolve thoughts and feelings that reduce my effectiveness. Dr Glickman recommended David Allen's system in an Optimal Thinking seminar I attended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2001

    Flow from Angst to Action . . . and Relax!

    This book is for all those who are overwhelmed with too many things to do, too little time to do them, and a general sense of unease that something important is being missed. Everyone has experienced times when everything seemed effortless, and progress limitless. David Allen has captured ways for you to achieve that wonderful state of mind and consciousness more often. His key concept is that every task, promise, or assignment has a place and a time. With everything in its proper place and time, you feel in control and replace the time spent on vague worrying with effective, timely action. As a result, the accomplishments grow while the pressure to accomplish decreases. As a result, the book contains many insights into 'how to have more energy, be more relaxed, and get a lot more accomplished with much less effort.' The key psychological insight of this book is that rapid progress occurs when you take large, unformed tasks, and break them down and organize them into smaller, sequential steps for exactly what to do and when. The book provides lots of guidance and examples for how to do this. The book is organized into three sections. The first gives you an overview of the whole process for how to get more done in a relaxed way. The second spells out the details of how to implement that process, in a way that a personal coach might use. The third provides subtle insights that help you appreciate the benefits that follow from using the process. Like all good coaches, Mr. Allen understands that appreciating a subject from several perspectives and getting lots of practice with it are critical steps in learning. The process advocated by this book is described with lots of systems flow charts that will appeal to all of the engineers and left-brained people. The right-brained people will find lots of discussions about emotions, feelings, and stress. So both types of thinkers should do well with this material. The essence of the process is that you write down a note about everything when you take on a new responsibility, make a new commitment, or have a useful thought. All of this ends up in some kind of 'in' box. You then go through your 'in' box and decide what needs to be done next for each item. For simple issues, this includes identifying the action you should take first and when to take it. For tougher issues, you schedule an appropriate time to work the problem in more detail. You organize the results of this thinking, and review your options for what you should be doing weekly. Then you take what you choose to do, and act. Think of this process as the following five steps: (1) collect (2) process (3) organize (4) decide (5) act. For the tougher problems, you start with identifying your purpose and principles so you know why you care how it all turns out. Then you imagine the potential good outcomes that you would like. Following that, you brainstorm with others the best way to get those outcomes. Then you organize the best pathway. Finally, you identify the first actions you need to take. Then you act, as in step 5 above. From this outline, I hope that you can see that this is not rocket science. It is simple common sense,

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2001

    What do you do when you feel overhwhelmed? Write this book on a 'To-Buy' list!

    Work: Anything that exists in your world that you look at and 'wish' was different from current reality. In that case, most of what we see around us could be considered work; in today's world, it seems to be work that necessitates knowledge. How much we know, and how we apply that information is the cutting edge between high productivity and burn-out. Real advice for real ¿knowledge workers.¿ Do you feel overwhelmed by the ¿problem¿ of infinite opportunity? How good could that next project be? How prepared for that meeting could your direct report be? When do you stop working on one project in light of the value-add that would come in beginning another? For those of you with ¿too much to do, and not enough time to do it in,¿ productivity guru (as Fast Company magazine has labeled him) David Allen provides a no-nonsense, fire-tested system that will make sense of your open loops. The Getting Things Done methodology offers a practical yet elegant solution to staying on top of your work, whether it¿s a personal project like landscaping your yard, to that new B2B site that you¿re launching next week. David Allen's approach to managing yourself and your world may well be the best advice you'll ever receive. Included are tips and tricks that lead the readers toward learning, practicing and developing techniques for improving personal productivity and individual satisfaction. The behavior sets you practice will prove useful, and add a ¿sustainable¿ element to your work/life style. Buy this book, read it, and watch your productivity AND energy go up!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013

    Useless

    A waste of money.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    Learn

    If you want to get things done more quickly you should read this its the one and only getting thinngs done go online now to order the newest book ever must be 18 years or mire to order noe!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2011

    Well worth the read- great system!

    I really enjoyed this book, and I am more organized and productive for having read it! David Allen writes in a very easy to follow and personable style, and turns what could have been a very dry subject into an engaging discourse on improving productivity in all areas of your life. Although his book is geared to those in business, he makes it very accessible for those of us in other fields, and gives many examples of how to integrate this system into our personal lives,too. I loved the 5 Stages of Mastering Workflow, and also his explanation of why "to do" lists are just not working for so many of us. If you need a better system for managing your business and your life, this book can help you get there!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2011

    Thanks for the comments

    I will keep my paperback until the ebook is interactive

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2011

    Just what I needed!

    What a great book! So greatful to the author to have written it is just what I needed to get organized and focused. Highly recommend it. And it seems that the spacing issue that the other reviewer mentioned had been fixed, it looks good on my end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2011

    great book to get uorganized

    i have this in hard copy. lots of useful ideas to get your office habits more streamlined so you are more effective. highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Getting Things Done is Worth Every Penny

    I own and operate a game design studio, and it's recently grown a great deal. While that's a good thing, managing the additional staff has created a lot more work for myself, and slowed down my personal productivity. A close friend recommended this work to me, and it has made me more productive in both my personal and professional life. This book is a real game changer for anyone who is willing to put in the time to follow David's clearly delineated process for regaining control of their life. Manage information and your life; don't let it manage you!

    Regards,

    Sean Preston
    President, Reality Blurs
    www.realityblurs.com

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book

    If you really follow this book step by step and get all the lists he asks for plus the inbox and take the time to organize your workspace and home! This will be the best book ever specially for people who procrastinate a lot and spend a lot of time doing literally nothing! It is for sure one of the best books I've read

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Not relevant for students

    Better for professionals than students

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2009

    "Getting Things Done" Revolutionized My Productivity! Fabulous Book!

    Reading this book and implementing the system David Allen suggests has made me much more productive. It helps me to DO things instead of trying to prioritize over and over again. It is general enough for everyone and yet I've made it my own, absolutely personal to me.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Gave this as a college graduation gift

    I've read and re-read this book and learned more each time. Recently I gave a copy, along with a Franklin Covey gift certificate, to my nephew for a college graduation gift. It seemed to me that launching a new career is a great time of life to be introduced to these tools. I think if I'd implemented GTD at the start of my career I'd be a lot more organized today than I am.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    Very practically useful!

    I'm trying to use it in my office setting, I've shared it with other professionals. I like it, it makes sense.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I have learned several things in this book and I have implemented some already. I have passed the book on to others who I think will get some of the same useful nuggets and take them and run!

    In an effort to give useful tools for progressive and determined professionals this book is excellent. I learned many useful and easy to make changes, some things that will require determination and effort but all things are clear, relevent and will work to make my work and home stress-free and organized.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2009

    immediate impact

    The first three chapters made a noticable difference in my work performance and stress level. This is a must read for anyone struggling to stay organized and get ahead of the game.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 25, 2008

    This book will set you FREE!

    Great practical application. I began implementing immediately. I have made this required reading for all my direct reports.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2008

    Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

    If you don't have time for one more thing in your life, read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. While that advice may seem counterproductive, and a little crazy, 'where will you find time to read it?' this book will assuredly give you some realistic advice about getting all those projects completed while staying sane.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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