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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 April 28, 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. This first thing that's apparent about this book is the author's enthusiasm. He presents workable solutions with this contagious 'can-do' attitude. He uses a basic premise that everything we do¿whether it's an assignment or work-related task¿has a specific place and time. Once that's understood, it's easier to put those activities into the right slot in our lives. This provides a sense of freedom even though deadlines are mounting. Time is no longer the enemy it's merely the container. By having all these tasks in their proper places, it's almost like opening a filing cabinet, working on a specific project, then replacing the file and closing the drawer. There is a start and finish time and everything gets done. That terrible overwhelming feeling vanishes. Another interesting aspect the author develops is how to achieve those wonderful moments when we are so in tune with our work, that it's really effortless. His strategies for managing time actually open up the unconscious mind by freeing it of negative stress. In other words, when our work is properly scheduled, we are cut loose of time constraints and are able to grab hold of maximum creativity and productivity. Even though there are still deadlines to meet, we would have already dealt with them before starting the project. Time is put in its proper place as well. While author David Allen's advice is really on the mark, at times his system gets a little complicated. He coins some fancy terms and sub-terms that make these principles seem complex. But the gist of his ideas is presented on a one-page flowchart that makes the price of this book worthwhile. This single page is a terrific review of the key concepts. Although some of his ideas may seem like good old- fashioned common sense, the author takes these thoughts and puts them within a system that operates in the contemporary workplace. Readers should be prepared to actually try out these ideas and not just read the book and put it on a shelf. Have a notebook handy to start organizing your thoughts and begin prioritizing your actions based on the advice presented. One of the best pieces of advice, and one that can be immediately put into action, is the Two-Minute Rule. This states that if you need to do something and you can do it in two minutes or less, do it now, and therefore free up your mind and time. Ultimately, by completing these smaller, quicker tasks, you will gain an enormous amount of time and freedom of thought for those larger assignments. It works! These pages have the power to unlock you from the chains of time that limit your actions and thinking. When you are finished reading this book, you will have learned some genuine principles that can be put into your life right now. The investment of time you put into reading this book will increase your productivity level and decrease your stress.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    Changed the way I live

    GTD, with a few small personal modifications changed thee way I live, plain and simple. I work, play, and live right out of my system now and nothing falls through the cracks.

    The lessons on how to deal with tasks, writing everything down, and reviewing and following up regularly are what propelled me from Systems Administrator to Technical Manager at my company.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    IBM Competitive Edge Book Club Selects Book in Q4 2011

    The IBM Competitive Edge Book Club, open to all Sales, Marketing, and Communication professionals at IBM, voted and selected "Getting Things Done" as the Q4 2011 book selection. Overall feedback from the members was very good. In the feedback from the members, we ask them the question - "What will you do differently in your job since your study of this book?" Some of the replies directly from the members included:

    - "It has given me renewed enthusiasm to re-establish my use of GTD concepts."

    - "Apply and revisit GTD best practices consistently."

    - "Evaluating my time management techniquest to be more effective in 2012!"

    - "Better organize my in-box and track my activities/goals via the electronic calendar."

    - "Remind myself of what is the outcome of each action."

    I would like to personally thank David for being apart of the IBM Competitive Edge Book Club experience and for "Getting Us Organized" for 2012!

    Best Regards,
    Brien Convery
    IBM Business Operations Leader and Competitive Edge Book Club Leader

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 2, 2011

    Very useful tool

    Excellent system & tools. Yes the concepts are simple, yes you probably could have thought of each of them on your own. But you didn't and neither did I because we are too busy. This simple approach has been very helpful in managing workload and sanity. The challenge is the discipline to keep up with the system.

    If you are struggling to keep up with tasks, projects, emails, personal goals etc. I highly recommend this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Very Practical Manual

    David Allen's "GTD" (Getting Things Done) system is excellent. It's a process that you go through over a period of time. You won't be able to implement the whole system "in one sitting" - but this book definitely helps in several ways:
    - You can implement specific tips (i.e. one of his tips on setting up internet folders is awesome)
    - You can implement specific practices (i.e. examples of lists, agendas)
    - You can try to implement the entire system (would recommend doing in phases)

    Given the amount of info most professionals have to contend with today, this book is an awesome manual of how to stay on top of things - both personnaly and professionally.

    2 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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 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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  • 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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    Posted December 27, 2008

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    Posted November 17, 2010

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    Posted May 27, 2011

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    Posted August 28, 2009

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    Posted November 9, 2008

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    Posted August 20, 2011

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    Posted December 5, 2011

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