Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

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Overview

In today's world, yesterday's methods just don't work. In Getting Things Done, veteran coach and management consultant David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to tens of thousands of people across the country. Allen's premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative ...

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Overview

In today's world, yesterday's methods just don't work. In Getting Things Done, veteran coach and management consultant David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to tens of thousands of people across the country. Allen's premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential. In Getting Things Done Allen shows how to:

  • Apply the "do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it" rule to get your in-box to empty
  • Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations
  • Plan projects as well as get them unstuck
  • Overcome feelings of confusion, anxiety, and being overwhelmed
  • Feel fine about what you're not doing

From core principles to proven tricks, Getting Things Done can transform the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.

The key to Getting Things Done? Relaxation.

Allen's premise is simple: our ability to be productive is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve stress-free productivity.

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Editorial Reviews

Entrepreneur
If you've tried other time managers and still feel harried, take a minute to check this one out.
From the Publisher
"The Personal Productivity Guru"

Fast Company Magazine

Library Journal
12/01/2013
This classic text will help those with their calendars loaded with responsibilities to juggle their engagements, pare down their to-do lists, and manage the stress of too many commitments.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142000281
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 35,367
  • Product dimensions: 7.98 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

David Allen is president of The David Allen Company and has more than twenty years experience as a consultant and executive coach for such organizations as Microsoft, the Ford Foundation, L.L.Bean, and the World Bank. His work has been featured in Fast Company, Fortune, Atlantic Monthly, O, and many other publications.

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Read an Excerpt

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Acknowledgements

 

part 1 - The Art of Getting Things Done

Chapter 1 - A New Practice for a New Reality

Chapter 2 - Getting Control of Your Life: The Five Stages of Mastering Workflow

Chapter 3 - Getting Projects Creatively Under Way: The Five Phases of Project Planning

 

part 2 - Practicing Stress-Free Productivity

Chapter 4 - Getting Started: Setting Up the Time, Space, and Tools

Chapter 5 - Collection: Corralling Your “Stuff”

Chapter 6 - Processing: Getting “In” to Empty

Chapter 7 - Organizing: Setting Up the Right Buckets

Chapter 8 - Reviewing: Keeping Your System Functional

Chapter 9 - Doing: Making the Best Action Choices

Chapter 10 - Getting Projects Under Control

 

part 3 - The Power of the Key Principles

Chapter 11 - The Power of the Collection Habit

Chapter 12 - The Power of the Next-Action Decision

Chapter 13 - The Power of Outcome Focusing

 

Conclusion

Index

Praise for Getting Things Done

“The Season’s Best Reads for Work-Life Advice . . . my favorite on organizing your life: Getting Things Done . . . offers help building the new mental skills needed in an age of multitasking and overload.”

—Sue Shellenbarger, The Wall Street Journal

 

“I recently attended David’s seminar on getting organized, and after seeing him in action I have hope . . . David Allen’s seminar was an eye-opener.”

—Stewart Alsop, Fortune

 

“Allen drops down from high-level philosophizing to the fine details of time management. Take a minute to check this one out.”

—Mark Henricks, Entrepreneur

 

“David Allen’s productivity principles are rooted in big ideas . . . but they’re also eminently practical.”

—Keith H. Hammonds, Fast Company

 

“David Allen brings new clarity to the power of purpose, the essential nature of relaxation, and deceptively simple guidelines for getting things done. He employs extensive experience, personal stories, and his own recipe for simplicity, speed, and fun.”

—Frances Hesselbein, chairman, board of governors,
The Drucker Foundation

 

“Anyone who reads this book can apply this knowledge and these skills in their lives for immediate results.”

—Stephen P. Magee, chaired professor of business and economics, University of Texas at Austin

 

“A true skeptic of most management fixes, I have to say David’s program is a winner!”

—Joline Godfrey, CEO, Independent Means, Inc. and author of Our Wildest Dreams

 

Getting Things Done describes an incredibly practical process that can help busy people regain control of their lives. It can help you be more successful. Even more important, it can help you have a happier life!”

—Marshall Goldsmith, coeditor, The Leader of the Future
and Coaching for Leadership

 

“WARNING: Reading Getting Things Done can be hazardous to your old habits of procrastination. David Allen’s approach is refreshingly simple and intuitive. He provides the systems, tools, and tips to achieve profound results.”

—Carola Endicott, director, Quality Resources, New
England Medical Center

PENGUIN BOOKS

GETTING THINGS DONE

David Allen has been called one of the world’s most influential thinkers on productivity and has been a keynote speaker and facilitator for such organizations as New York Life, the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, L.L. Bean, and the U.S. Navy, and he conducts workshops for individuals and organizations across the country. He is the president of The David Allen Company and has more than twenty years experience as a management consultant and executive coach. His work has been featured in Fast Company, Fortune, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Getting Things Done has been published in twelve foreign countries. David Allen lives in Ojai, California.

PENGUIN BOOKS
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road,
Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
Penguin Books India (P) Ltd, 11 Community Centre,
Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, Cnr Rosedale and Airborne Roads,
Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:
Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England

 

First published in the United States of America by Viking Penguin,
a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. 2001
Published in Penguin Books 2003

 

 

Copyright © David Allen, 2001

All rights reserved

 

eISBN : 978-1-101-12849-7

1. Time management. 2. Self-management (Psychology). I. Title.
BF637.T5 A45 2001
646.7—dc21 00-043757

 

Stemen

 

For Kathryn, my extraordinary partner in life and work

Acknowledgments

Many mentors, partners, colleagues, staff, and friends have contributed over the years to my understanding and development of the principles in Getting Things Done. George Mayer, Michael Bookbinder, Ted Drake, Dean Acheson, and Russell Bishop played key roles along my path of personal and professional growth. Ron Medved, Sally McGhee, Leslie Boyer, Tom Boyer, Pam Tarrantine, and Kelly Forrister contributed in their own ways to my work as it matured.

In addition, tens of thousands of clients and workshop participants have helped validate and fine-tune these models. Particular thanks go to the senior human resource strategists who early on recognized the significance of this material in changing their corporate cultures, and who gave me the opportunity to do that—in particular: Michael Winston, Ben Cannon, Susan Valaskovic, Patricia Carlyle, Manny Berger, Carola Endicott, Klara Sztucinski, and Elliott Kellman. The administrative and moral support that Shar Kanan and Andra Carasso gave me over many years was priceless.

This book itself could not have happened the way it has without the unique energies and perspectives of Tom Hagan, John and Laura McBride, Steve Lewers, Doe Coover, Greg Stikeleather, Steve Shull, and Marian Bateman. And much credit is due my editor, Janet Goldstein, who has been a marvelous (and patient) instructor in the art and craft of book writing.

Finally, deepest thanks go to my spiritual coach, J-R, for being such an awesome guide and consistent reminder of my real priorities; and to my incredible wife, Kathryn, for her trust, love, hard work, and the beauty she has brought into my life.

Welcome to Getting Things Done

WELCOME TO A gold mine of insights into strategies for how to have more energy, be more relaxed, and get a lot more accomplished with much less effort. If you’re like me, you like getting things done and doing them well, and yet you also want to savor life in ways that seem increasingly elusive if not downright impossible if you’re working too hard. This doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. It is possible to be effectively doing while you are delightfully being, in your ordinary workaday world.

I think efficiency is a good thing. Maybe what you’re doing is important, interesting, or useful; or maybe it isn’t but it has to be done anyway. In the first case you want to get as much return as you can on your investment of time and energy. In the second, you want to get on to other things as fast as you can, without any nagging loose ends.

And whatever you’re doing, you’d probably like to be more relaxed, confident that whatever you’re doing at the moment is just what you need to be doing—that having a beer with your staff after hours, gazing at your sleeping child in his or her crib at midnight, answering the e-mail in front of you, or spending a few informal minutes with the potential new client after the meeting is exactly what you ought to be doing, as you’re doing it.

———————————————

The art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of our great men.

Captain J. A. Hatfield

———————————————

Teaching you how to be maximally efficient and relaxed, whenever you need or want to be, was my main purpose in writing this book.

I have searched for a long time, as you may have, for answers to the questions of what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. And after twenty-plus years of developing and applying new methods for personal and organizational productivity, alongside years of rigorous exploration in the self-development arena, I can attest that there is no single, once-and-for-all solution. No software, seminar, cool personal planner, or personal mission statement will simplify your workday or make your choices for you as you move through your day, week, and life. What’s more, just when you learn how to enhance your productivity and decision-making at one level, you’ll graduate to the next accepted batch of responsibilities and creative goals, whose new challenges will defy the ability of any simple formula or buzzword-du-jour to get you what you want, the way you want to get it.

But if there’s no single means of perfecting personal organization and productivity, there are things we can do to facilitate them. As I have personally matured, from year to year, I’ve found deeper and more meaningful, more significant things to focus on and be aware of and do. And I’ve uncovered simple processes that we can all learn to use that will vastly improve our ability to deal proactively and constructively with the mundane realities of the world.

What follows is a compilation of more than two decades’ worth of discoveries about personal productivity, a guide to maximizing output and minimizing input, and to doing so in a world in which work is increasingly voluminous and ambiguous. I have spent many thousands of hours coaching people “in the trenches” at their desks, helping them process and organize all of their work at hand. The methods I have uncovered have proved to be highly effective in all types of organizations, at every job level, across cultures, and even at home and school. After twenty years of coaching and training some of the world’s most sophisticated and productive professionals, I know the world is hungry for these methods.

Executives at the top are looking to instill “ruthless execution” in themselves and their people as a basic standard. They know, and I know, that behind closed doors, after hours, there remain unanswered calls, tasks to be delegated, unprocessed issues from meetings and conversations, personal responsibilities unmanaged, and dozens of e-mails still not dealt with. Many of these businesspeople are successful because the crises they solve and the opportunities they take advantage of are bigger than the problems they allow and create in their own offices and briefcases. But given the pace of business and life today, the equation is in question.

On the one hand, we need proven tools that can help people focus their energies strategically and tactically without letting anything fall through the cracks. On the other, we need to create work environments and skills that will keep the most invested people from burning out due to stress. We need positive work-style standards that will attract and retain the best and brightest.

We know this information is sorely needed in organizations. It’s also needed in schools, where our kids are still not being taught how to process information, how to focus on outcomes, or what actions to take to make them happen. And for all of us individually, it’s needed so we can take advantage of all the opportunities we’re given to add value to our world in a sustainable, self-nurturing way.

 

The power, simplicity, and effectiveness of what I’m talking about in Getting Things Done are best experienced as experiences, in real time, with real situations in your real world. Necessarily, the book must put the essence of this dynamic art of workflow management and personal productivity into a linear format. I’ve tried to organize it in such a way as to give you both the inspiring big-picture view and a taste of immediate results as you go along.

The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 describes the whole game, providing a brief overview of the system and an explanation of why it’s unique and timely, and then presenting the basic methodologies themselves in their most condensed and basic form. Part 2 shows you how to implement the system. It’s your personal coaching, step by step, on the nitty-gritty application of the models. Part 3 goes even deeper, describing the subtler and more profound results you can expect when you incorporate the methodologies and models into your work and your life.

I want you to hop in. I want you to test this stuff out, even challenge it. I want you to find out for yourself that what I promise is not only possible but instantly accessible to you personally. And I want you to know that everything I propose is easy to do. It involves no new skills at all. You already know how to focus, how to write things down, how to decide on outcomes and actions, and how to review options and make choices. You’ll validate that many of the things you’ve been doing instinctively and intuitively all along are right. I’ll give you ways to leverage those basic skills into new plateaus of effectiveness. I want to inspire you to put all this into a new behavior set that will blow your mind.

Throughout the book I refer to my coaching and seminars on this material. I’ve worked as a “management consultant” for the last two decades, alone and in small partnerships. My work has consisted primarily of doing private productivity coaching and conducting seminars based on the methods presented here. I (and my colleagues) have coached more than a thousand individuals, trained hundreds of thousands of professionals, and delivered many hundreds of public seminars. This is the background from which I have drawn my experience and examples.

The promise here was well described by a client of mine who wrote, “When I habitually applied the tenets of this program it saved my life . . . when I faithfully applied them, it changed my life. This is a vaccination against day-to-day fire-fighting (the so-called urgent and crisis demands of any given workday) and an antidote for the imbalance many people bring upon themselves.”

part 1

The Art of Getting Things Done

1

A New Practice for a New Reality

IT’S POSSIBLE FOR a person to have an overwhelming number of things to do and still function productively with a clear head and a positive sense of relaxed control. That’s a great way to live and work, at elevated levels of effectiveness and efficiency. It’s also becoming a critical operational style required of successful and high-performing professionals. You already know how to do everything necessary to achieve this high-performance state. If you’re like most people, however, you need to apply these skills in a more timely, complete, and systematic way so you can get on top of it all instead of feeling buried. And though the method and the techniques I describe in this book are immensely practical and based on common sense, most people will have some major work habits that must be modified before they can implement this system. The small changes required—changes in the way you clarify and organize all the things that command your attention—could represent a significant shift in how you approach some key aspects of your day-to-day work. Many of my clients have referred to this as a significant paradigm shift.

———————————————

Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, organization, preparation, and action.

David Kekich

———————————————

The methods I present here are all based on two key objectives: (1) capturing all the things that need to get done—now, later, someday, big, little, or in between—into a logical and trusted system outside of your head and off your mind; and (2) disciplining yourself to make front-end decisions about all of the “inputs” you let into your life so that you will always have a plan for “next actions” that you can implement or renegotiate at any moment.

This book offers a proven method for this kind of high-performance workflow management. It provides good tools, tips, techniques, and tricks for implementation. As you’ll discover, the principles and methods are instantly usable and applicable to everything you have to do in your personal as well as your professional life.1 You can incorporate, as many others have before you, what I describe as an ongoing dynamic style of operating in your work and in your world. Or, like still others, you can simply use this as a guide to getting back into better control when you feel you need to.

The Problem: New Demands, Insufficient Resources

Almost everyone I encounter these days feels he or she has too much to handle and not enough time to get it all done. In the course of a single recent week, I consulted with a partner in a major global investment firm who was concerned that the new corporate-management responsibilities he was being offered would stress his family commitments beyond the limits; and with a midlevel human-resources manager trying to stay on top of her 150-plus e-mail requests per day fueled by the goal of doubling the company’s regional office staff from eleven hundred to two thousand people in one year, all as she tried to protect a social life for herself on the weekends.

A paradox has emerged in this new millennium: people have enhanced quality of life, but at the same time they are adding to their stress levels by taking on more than they have resources to handle. It’s as though their eyes were bigger than their stomachs. And most people are to some degree frustrated and perplexed about how to improve the situation.

Work No Longer Has Clear Boundaries

A major factor in the mounting stress level is that the actual nature of our jobs has changed much more dramatically and rapidly than have our training for and our ability to deal with work. In just the last half of the twentieth century, what constituted “work” in the industrialized world was transformed from assembly-line, make-it and move-it kinds of activity to what Peter Drucker has so aptly termed “knowledge work.”

In the old days, work was self-evident. Fields were to be plowed, machines tooled, boxes packed, cows milked, widgets cranked. You knew what work had to be done—you could see it. It was clear when the work was finished, or not finished.

———————————————

Time is that quality of nature that keeps events from happening all at once. Lately it doesn’t seem to be working.

Anonymous

———————————————

Now, for many of us, there are no edges to most of our projects. Most people I know have at least half a dozen things they’re trying to achieve right now, and even if they had the rest of their lives to try, they wouldn’t be able to finish these to perfection. You’re probably faced with the same dilemma. How good could that conference potentially be? How effective could the training program be, or the structure of your executives’ compensation package? How inspiring is the essay you’re writing? How motivating the staff meeting? How functional the reorganization? And a last question: How much available data could be relevant to doing those projects “better”? The answer is, an infinite amount, easily accessible, or at least potentially so, through the Web.

———————————————

Almost every project could be done better, and an infinite quantity of information is now available that could make that happen.

———————————————

On another front, the lack of edges can create more work for everyone. Many of today’s organizational outcomes require cross-divisional communication, cooperation, and engagement. Our individual office silos are crumbling, and with them is going the luxury of not having to read cc’d e-mails from the marketing department, or from human resources, or from some ad hoc, deal-with-a-certain-issue committee.

———————————————

We can never really be prepared for that which is wholly new. We have to adjust ourselves, and every radical adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem: we undergo a test, we have to prove ourselves. It needs subordinate self-confidence to face drastic change without inner trembling.

Eric Hoffer

———————————————

Our Jobs Keep Changing

The disintegrating edges of our projects and our work in general would be challenging enough for anyone. But now we must add to that equation the constantly shifting definition of our jobs. I often ask in my seminars, “Which of you are doing only what you were hired to do?” Seldom do I get a raised hand. As amorphous as edgeless work may be, if you had the chance to stick with some specifically described job long enough, you’d probably figure out what you needed to do—how much, at what level—to stay sane. But few have that luxury anymore, for two reasons:

1. | The organizations we’re involved with seem to be in constant morph mode, with ever-changing goals, products, partners, customers, markets, technologies, and owners. These all, by necessity, shake up structures, forms, roles, and responsibilities.

2. | The average professional is more of a free agent these days than ever before, changing careers as often as his or her parents once changed jobs. Even fortysomethings and fiftysomethings hold to standards of continual growth. Their aims are just more integrated into the mainstream now, covered by the catchall “professional, management, and executive development”—which simply means they won’t keep doing what they’re doing for any extended period of time.

Little seems clear for very long anymore, as far as what our work is and what or how much input may be relevant to doing it well. We’re allowing in huge amounts of information and communication from the outer world and generating an equally large volume of ideas and agreements with ourselves and others from our inner world. And we haven’t been well equipped to deal with this huge number of internal and external commitments.

———————————————

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.

Anonymous

———————————————

The Old Models and Habits Are Insufficient

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Welcome to Getting Things Done

Part 1: The Art of Getting Things Done
Chapter 1: A New Practice for a New Reality
Chapter 2: Getting Control of Your Life: The Five Stages of Mastering Workflow
Chapter 3: Getting Projects Creatively Under Way: The Five Phases of Project Planning

Part 2: Practicing Stress-Free Productivity
Chapter 4: Getting Started: Setting Up the Time, Space, and Tools
Chapter 5: Collection: Corralling Your "Stuff"
Chapter 6: Processing: Getting "In" to Empty
Chapter 7: Organizing: Setting Up the Right Buckets
Chapter 8: Reviewing: Keeping Your System Functional
Chapter 9: Doing: Making the Best Action Choices
Chapter 10: Getting Projects Under Control

Part 3: The Power of the Key Principles
Chapter 11: The Power of the Collection Habit
Chapter 12: The Power of the Next-Action Decision
Chapter 13: The Power of Outcome Focusing

Conclusion
Index

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  • Posted January 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>The core principles of GTD are: <BR/><BR/>Collect: <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>Process: <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>Organize: <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>Review: <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>Do: <BR/><BR/>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'. <BR/><BR/>Phew! It's a lot, but it's a lot of useful information and a foolproof system once you get it all down. <BR/><BR/>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"

    34 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2009

    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 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.

    31 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    It's just not right

    What's the reason for me to have NOOK if paperback is $9.52 and ebook is $13?

    27 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book / Lousy Editing

    This is a great book. It came highly recommended by a friend who is an astronaut and has a very challenging work schedule.

    I've nearly finished reading it - for the first time, and I think I'll read it again and take better notes. But the editing in the ebook version is HORRIBLE. The editor may not realize you need spaces between ALL the words, not just some of them. There are sentences where you have to delete or add a word for it to make sense. I'm sure this isn't how the book was written, but the publisher needs to issue us an update.

    I'd give it five stars for content, but 1 star for editing - so I'm splitting the difference and calling it a three.

    18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Practical, wise, and applicable to modern life

    Since reading this book about six months ago I've implemented the GTD system. Immediately when reading, I sensed the deep wisdom and soundness latent in the pages.

    I have a utilitarian and pragmatic personality (INTJ) so naturally I have great affinity for material of this sort. I especially value the flexibility of this workflow system. It can be applied with paper and folders, PDA's, Outlook, Excel, and other applications as well. Each individual can customize the general framework to suite his or her own needs and taste.

    I found the material theoretically sound, useful, and easy to incorporate into my life. I don't feel stressed despite engaging in many responsibilities. I've discovered from using this material in my life so far that it frees my mind to think more on the things of others and reach out to more people in my life. It has also helped me to realize what I'm truly capable of doing in a given period of time. I also don't let "small" details seep through the cracks in life (such as paying a credit card bill on time, or remembering to buy a card for my friends birthday.)

    I also am intrigued by how GTD seems to dovetail nicely with a spiritual side of life.

    I highly recommend this book! It has helped me live my life with greater richness and fulness.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2009

    Exquisitely well thought out, very fresh and different

    He speaks against making to-do lists! this time mgmt book is the only one I've ever re-read, and put to use so thoroughly. The big difference between this and every other similar title is the peace of mind I now have that I never felt before. His methods get it all out of my head so I close my eyes at night trusting my system so I can sleep. His martial arts analogy is apt and has made me more able to catch and make full use of every twist in my day. I AM NO LONGER UP TO MY A** IN ALLIGATORS. Thank you Mr. Allen.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    Great System for Those in Need of an Organization Assistant

    Yes, file it under "Stuff You Already Know," but with a footnote: "That Most of Us Need to be Told Anyway." I've been using the system for about 6 months now and am genuinely surprised that the promised improvements in efficiency and the freedom to think clearly about big-picture issues are real. I originally borrowed this book from a colleague who had recommended it, but decided to splash out on my own copy once I became a devotee.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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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.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2007

    Disappointing

    I was optimistic about the title, so the marketing works. I suppose I was looking for a magic bullet. Since I was already doing what is in the book, I found no new answers there. I may be slanted in my view, but the book seems to assume its target audience are people who are not already performing the steps are outlined in the text. Whereas, I would expect people who find this book by title are already trying various methods and not succeeding, and are the people who look for book that may provide new direction. In my view, the book shoots down traditional methods, and then offers the same traditional methods without even repackaging. It just did not work for me. Scan the book before buying, I had not. It may be right for others, but had little to offer me.

    6 out of 7 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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2007

    Absolutely Excellent!

    I have studied various organizational and time management methods for 20 years. I have found nothing that compares to the liberty and effectiveness of this method. I've been using this method for over 1-1/2 years now. I also highly recommend David Allen's book, Ready For Anything. It has many tips, thought-provoking ideas, and methods to reduce stress and accomplish more with your work time as well as your own time. I highly recommend both books and their audios. I use the audio CDs when I am not able to take the time to read, but have the time to listen. I have made their audio CDs into audio MP3s, and I have put them on my iPod for use whenever and wherever. I find that an occasional review of these tips and methods helps put me back on track when I have let some portion of the method slip. When I started using these methods, I found that I first had to implement a portion of his method, and when I had that working, then I added in another portion. If you do not review and upkeep the steps he suggests, you will not see the same amount of good results as you do when you use his methods. David Allen's website offers free tips and gives a location to sign up for free emails with productivity tips. I have recommended and have purchased these books for others, as well as myself.

    4 out of 5 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2007

    Not worth the money

    The excerpt I read before buying the book adequately described the overwhelming workload I face, but the book lost me at about page 27. I was looking for new strategies but this book simply overstated the obvious concepts that anyone who's had more than a job flipping burgers or working construction would already know. On page 27, 'The following can all serve as versions of an in-basket...physical in-basket, paper-based note-taking devices, voice recording devices, email.' Well, duh! It doesn't get better. On page 37, 'I define a project as any desired result that requires more than one action step.' What??? That doesn't even make sense. If that were true, than 95% of the tasks on my to-do list would not be tasks, they'd all be 'projects'. There's a workflow diagram that looks promising, but at closer look the logic is flawed. It maps out 'stuff' in your inbox and what to do with it. If it can be taken care of than less than 2 minutes, then 'do it'. If it's more than 2 minutes, it's either a project, or you should delegate it or defer it. Well, if you simply send an email to someone telling them to do it (delegating it) isn't that a 'less than 2 minute' action? If it's longer than 2 minutes, then the workflow points to 'projects', but stops there. There's no workflow for projects, just a long, convoluted narrative on planning phases. The worst part is the section on implementing the author's system. It lists 'the basic processing tools...paper-holding trays, a stack of plain letter-size paper, a pen/pencil, Post-its, paper clips, etc...' Then describes each item on the list in a seperate paragraph. Instead of posing this book as 'Getting Things Done' it should have been called 'Getting Things Done at Your First Job.'

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2007

    Great Concept---Poor Presentation and Delivery

    The book¿s title is a winner. Allen¿s premise is excellent: ¿Our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts organized can we achieve effective results and unleash our creative potential.¿ Allen has spent more than 20 years as a business trainer and coach in the field of productivity. He likens the brain to the random access memory (RAM) of the computer. The more tasks it works on simultaneously, the slower and less productive it becomes. In the book, he describes the productivity system that he has developed to remove brain clutter. His system does not put much emphasis on prioritizing. Nor does it give much weight to a lack of time being a restraining factor. Instead, he focuses on the issues of ¿lack of clarity and definition.¿ Allen concentrates on mastering the flow of work so that your brain will not become cluttered with non-essential subjects. By doing so, he wants his readers to escape lower level thinking and concentrate on a higher level of thinking. Allen states that ¿physical organization must be better than mental organization for that to happen.¿ One caveat of that line of thinking is to have multiple lists or folders or online software whereby you can list categories of tasks ¿according to locations and functions.¿ The thrust of his presentation is found in Chapter 8, ¿Processing: Getting ¿In¿ to Empty.¿ His method involves putting all tasks in an ¿In¿ basket, and then examining each one individually. If the task can be accomplished within two minutes, it is to be done immediately. If not, it should flow into one of three categories which are self-explanatory: 1) Trash 2) Incubate 3)Reference. Allen¿s definition of a project, the ultimate productivity goal, is rather novel---an ¿outcome requiring more than one step.¿ Also, his use of the calendar for an entry is rather interesting. His viewpoint of a calendar entry is that it should be done that day or not all. It is not to be moved under any circumstances. The book is liberally sprinkled with quotations on productivity to leaven his rather boring, flat, and meandering presentations in each chapter. The book concentrates on paper flow, and does not address practical issues, such as handling phone calls, appointments, work overload, distractions, and other productivity issues.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 26, 2011

    Half Baked

    It's no joke, there are no page numbers in the index. Maybe some one forgot to put it on their to do list.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2011

    What good is an index...

    With no page numbers AND no interactivity?

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2010

    Good

    Good.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    Great for getting your act together

    I am involved in so many activities and my desk was an utter mess. But this book really helped me get a grip on my clutter and set up a system that really works. The book is an easy read and the author has a really friendly tone. Would I recommend this to my friends? Yes! I already have.

    2 out of 2 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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