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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

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


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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: #790,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer VINE VOICE on March 22, 2010
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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64 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Randall Lemke on April 8, 2010
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 ›
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By B. White on March 25, 2010
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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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dan on September 15, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I ignored the other negative reviews and spent thirteen bucks on this loser. I deeply regret the purchase. Here are the problems:

* The other reviews were right: the song lyrics are distracting. Maybe they looked better in the print version but in the Kindle, they just interrupt the text. The connection between the text and lyrics is often tenuous or apparent only to the author.

* The title suggested I would be getting tips on how to organize using high tech methods such as Google. However, less than half the book focuses on that (40%). There was -- one -- Google tip I hadn't heard before.

* A motif throughout the book is his dying girlfriend. Again and again, he uses her as an example as her condition continues to decline. I'm sorry he lost a girlfriend but the emotional issue does not help the book.

* Some of the advice sounds like the guy is not focused in the real world. For example, he suggests talking to your boss about working at least part time from home or during off-business hours. My boss would ask "Who's gonna answer the phones?" and then mark my file "troublemaker." He also suggests leaving work for a couple of hours when things are slow and hitting the gym. Maybe at his executive level, this stuff works. But for most of us?

*He says he was CIO at Google. Would have thought he'd have learned to concisely present ideas. Hopefully he doesn't write this way in his business career.

*Admittedly, I have not finished the book. I'm 80% through (don't you love the way Kindle tells you that?) and having to fight to read each page. So maybe he really kills in the last fifth of the book. I don't know if I'll hang around to find out.
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