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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

31 out of 40 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 October 24, 2001

    It's a guideline!!

    I found the book very informative if not slighty condecending. I generally believe that the book could help many people. However the most positive thing that I could say is it inspires you to add to the said ideas- all in all I'd recommend it to anyone.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    GTD is an enlightening book about how to be more productive when

    GTD is an enlightening book about how to be more productive when being under the weight of having "too much" to do.  The practices outlined in this book should have an immediate impact on your daily productivity, and since applying some of what I've learned, I've been able to focus much more easily on my daily tasks.

    While this book is absolutely an eye-opener, it can be wordy and repetitive at times.  As such, one might find this book difficult to get through with a short attention span.  It continually hammers the points about making sure to write down and organize each and every task that pops into your head, and by the end of this book, you'll be muttering the sentiment in your sleep.  I would suggest to stick with the book until the end, because there are some great morsels strewn throughout even the "boring" parts.

    I would have given this book five stars, but it is badly in need of a revision.  While I appreciate the focus on organizing my physical world, over 75% of my tasks exist in the digital world.  This book treats computer work and email organization almost as an afterthought.  As such, I found myself searching the internet for digital implementations of GTD - of which, there are many great resources out there.

    One such search led me to find Leo Babauta's book "Zen To Done," which is a simplification of the GTD system (perhaps perfect for those with a short attention span).  While ZTD is an easy read and also a great resource, I feel that I got more out of that book having first read David Allen's GTD.  So I would suggest picking up and reading both cover-to-cover.

    With all the technology out there today, I feel that GTD is easier to implement than ever.  I use Outlook at work and my iPhone on the road, and was able to implement many of the GTD ideas in very effective ways.  (Telling Siri to put things right into my context lists is a game-changer!)  I would recommend this book to anyone that really wants to get organized.  Then, search the internet for applications and methods to keep your "digital world" under control, too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2014

    The she cat awaits

    She is chained up and open.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Needs revising

    When this book was written in 2001 the workplace was very different. While the basics of his method still hold true, the tools he recommends are nearly stone-age. I found myself rejecting item after item in favor of tools and apps available today. Plan on thinking very hard about substituting, for example, Evernote for the separate pieces of paper that the
    author is so fond of, scanners for most of the paper files and your smartphones voice recorder for most of the notetaking. His overall process, however, is stellar and actually works better with up to date tools than it ever could have using paper and folders. Highly recommended for content, but the amount of work required to make the revisions for today's workplace myself kept me from giving it 5 stars.

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  • Posted December 27, 2013

    sucked

    this book was horrible waste of my $$$$$

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  • Posted October 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Getting Things Done is a fantastic read. I highly recommend it!

    Getting Things Done is a fantastic read. I highly recommend it!

    The most important lesson I took from this book is that everything belongs on a list.
    Once you get tasks out of your head and onto paper you can stop worrying about them and start doing them.
    The author calls this clearing your mental RAM and having a mind like water.

    Another important skill is creating a single In basket for all tasks.
    Sure, some things are more important than others. But how can you achieve world peace when you haven’t done the grocery shopping or changed the oil in your car?

    Finally, it’s important to do what you can when you’re surrounded by the materials you need. It doesn’t do you any good to remember you need tuna packed in water when you’re at the car wash.

    And if you’re experiencing low energy, do something simple like replying to a couple of quick emails.

    This book has revolutionized my workflow and brought me a level of peace I didn’t know was possible when balancing so many different roles.

    I give GTD my highest recommendation!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    elizabeth.mclure@dhs.gov

    stress free produtivity was a good book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    You have to adapt these lessons...

    ...to your own job and lifestyle. They do not necessarily work for everyone "as is" because these are concepts. They are "canned" ideas designed to get you thinking about ways to become more productive. For instance, context driven sorting of next actions won't work for me because of how my job evolves constantly and my next actions aren't governed by when a phone is available. A phone is always available for calls in this day and age, and i have to return calls at the leisure of others and not my own. However, the book gave me ideas about how to setup new Microsoft Outlook filters that make my tasklist less daunting. So the ideas are just those...ideas. adapt them to your own needs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2001

    The 'How Tp' Manual for the realist

    This is a great book for survivors of the '80's and 90's who realise that (1) You have limitations - you can't do Everything, and (2) You don't Have to do Everything. Only complaint is, I would have liked about a dozen blank pages at the end for my own notes, to make this a permanent personal reference book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 28, 2009

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    Posted January 26, 2010

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