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Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff out of Your Head, Find It When You Need It, and Get It Done Right Hardcover – March 16, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Getting Organized in the Google Era breaks new ground…guiding you to solutions that honor your unique personality.   Smart, non-judgmental and filled with practical advice.
-Julie Morgenstern, NY Times bestselling author of Organizing from the Inside Out and Never Check Email in the Morning.
“Douglas Merrill has worked a near-miracle: In short, simple steps, he shows how to become powerful and confident in a world of too much info and too little time. This isn’t just the book I wished I’d written, it’s the book I need to give to people I care about.”
-Quentin Hardy, Forbes Magazine.
This book has been a terrific resource for a messy-desked, attention-challenged thinker of random thoughts like me!  Thanks to Douglas Merrill, I now use digital tools to find almost everything and my transition from paper to digital is no longer awkward.  This is a marvelous book, with tremendous ideas on every page. 
-Susan Scott, NY Times bestselling author of Fierce Conversations, Achieving Success at Work & in Life – One Conversation at a Time, and Fierce Leadership, A Bold Alternative to the Worst “Best” Practices of Business Today.
“Perhaps only Douglas Merrill could take us from Frederick Winslow Taylor to cloud computing to getting organized in one helpful read. This is the book to help you stay ahead of your own avalanche of information so that it's always accessible and useful to you.” 
- Dave Girouard, President of Enterprise Group, Google, Inc.

About the Author

DOUGLAS C MERRILL is the Founder & CEO of ZestCash - a financial services technology company committed to serving the underbanked - and was previously Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Engineering at Google. Prior to Google, Douglas was a Senior Vice President at Charles Schwab and Co. and an information scientist at the RAND Corporation. He has a Ph.D. in cognitive science from Princeton University.


JAMES A MARTIN is a PC World technology blogger, whose articles have appeared in many publications and on web sites including Washingtonpost.com.



Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (March 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385528175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385528177
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,215,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For someone who has been striving to go paperless, this is a helpful book. The information on using specific applications is the best aspect of the book, although it takes awhile for this part of the book to start. I found the most useful part of the book did not start until chapter 8. The early part of the book feels padded with personal stories and vague generalizations about organization and memory.

It is mainly , though not totally, Google-centric, which is not surprising from a former high-ranking Google employee.The author does state that his recommendations of Google apps is because he truly feels they are the best and in a helpful epilogue, Stuff We Love, some other companies' products are evaluated. There is also a 21- point recap of principles that summarize the whole book.

The part of the book I found tedious was the author's heavy reliance on personal anecdotes, and I especially disliked the use of story of the illness and death of the author's girlfriend to illustrate organizational principles . He could have presented this information without resorting to this. Overall, the personal anecdotes detract rather than enhance the book, and the sprinkling of song lyrics throughout the text adds nothing and feels like the author is trying too hard. But if you skip the personal stuff, this is a useful book.
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Format: Hardcover
First, in full disclosure I am a GTD nut, I follow David Allen's system pretty rigorously. That said, I do read most books I can find on organization simply because it is an interesting hobby of mine, and a lot of my acquaintances come to me for advice on getting organized.

The issues I have with the book:

1. Distracting format. I don't really need song lyrics in little blurbs to help me connect with the text better. Some of these lyrics are obscure and it is unclear how they relate to the text.

2. Way too much personal content. Look, it sounds like the author has lived through some harrowing experiences in his relationships, and that if he had been better organized, some of the pain would have been lessened. I sympathize. But the way he goes into detail seems very indulgent. I didn't pick up the book to hear about your sad stories, I wanted to hear what the former CIO of Google had to say about getting organized. Instead I get all this personal history. That's probably my biggest problem with the book.

3. The author is way to narrow minded about non-cloud based applications. For example, he is not a big fan of Outlook because it is usually hooked into Exchange, server space is expensive, and so you cannot keep years worth of data on the server. Um, why not archive your files and access your data that way? I get that the cloud will eventually be an ideal place to keep all of our stuff so that you can have everything instantly accessible and search-able, but as of now, the interoperability of the various applications just isn't where it needs to be for this to realistically work for most people.
Check out the book "Total Recall" for more on this.

4. The author is way too idealistic.
Read more ›
Comment 65 of 73 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
It's strange how a book about how to un-clutter your mind so that you can work with greater focus and efficiency is overrun with distracting sidebars and pop-up song lyrics.
The book itself is distracting to the reader. There is useful information in here for the technophobe and technophile alike (however, I assume that everything in here will be old news to someone who is already a tech-head). If you are willing to have the book open in your lap and your hands on your keyboard, you may feel emboldened to try a variety of internet based applications that can help you arrange and organize information that you are getting on the web. Through the book I was introduced to a variety of apps that I didn't know existed, and that hold out some promise. The net result, however, is that if you are someone who doesn't organically use systems and tools to organize yourself, you will find that the only thing this book has helped you to un-clutter is your wallet - of $23.00.
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Format: Hardcover
How many books have been published on the topic of getting organized? Countless. How many of these books show such empathy for the reader, offer revealing personal anecdotes from the author that illustrate his advice, provide fresh thinking about what keeps us from being organized, and, oh yeah, throw in lots of quirky musical quotes along the way? Only one book does that--this one. I've found it enjoyable to read as well as helpful. I'm going to recommend it to my life coaching clients.
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Format: Hardcover
The book's rather haphazard organization (it switches around various identities - pop psych book, a biography, a Cliff's note version of how-to-search, ...) unwittingly helps make a key premise - "don't organize information, search for it". Despite this lack of focus and apparent confusion on who the target audience is, the book is surprisingly an entertaining and informative read. Throughout the book, one gets a Zen like treatment ("knowledge is not power. Sharing of knowledge is") on organizing information and down-to-earth advise on how to use "~", "-" and "..." in searches to improve the quality (I ended up being on Google trying all this for a really long time...diabolical plan from a former Google CIO!).

The nuggets of pop-psych-like wisdom on how we organize and specific suggestions on improving search alone makes this a worthy investment. The reader shouldn't expect a very smooth reading experience, though - bumping around different topics (often very tangential) and granularities.

The key principles to organize by (a list of 21 items) is an excellent way to organize/analyze one's own strategy and habits when it comes to information organization. I gained from the discussion on noting/shifting contexts and grouping tasks accordingly to aid in efficiency (perhaps, I already follow this - but this discussion clearly helped me formalize/refine my approach using some of the tools mentioned). A good read and certainly helped improve my "e-search" skills.
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