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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity Paperback – December 31, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142000280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142000281
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,255 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

With first-chapter allusions to martial arts, "flow," "mind like water," and other concepts borrowed from the East (and usually mangled), you'd almost think this self-helper from David Allen should have been called Zen and the Art of Schedule Maintenance.

Not quite. Yes, Getting Things Done offers a complete system for downloading all those free-floating gotta-do's clogging your brain into a sophisticated framework of files and action lists--all purportedly to free your mind to focus on whatever you're working on. However, it still operates from the decidedly Western notion that if we could just get really, really organized, we could turn ourselves into 24/7 productivity machines. (To wit, Allen, whom the New Economy bible Fast Company has dubbed "the personal productivity guru," suggests that instead of meditating on crouching tigers and hidden dragons while you wait for a plane, you should unsheathe that high-tech saber known as the cell phone and attack that list of calls you need to return.)

As whole-life-organizing systems go, Allen's is pretty good, even fun and therapeutic. It starts with the exhortation to take every unaccounted-for scrap of paper in your workstation that you can't junk, The next step is to write down every unaccounted-for gotta-do cramming your head onto its own scrap of paper. Finally, throw the whole stew into a giant "in-basket"

That's where the processing and prioritizing begin; in Allen's system, it get a little convoluted at times, rife as it is with fancy terms, subterms, and sub-subterms for even the simplest concepts. Thank goodness the spine of his system is captured on a straightforward, one-page flowchart that you can pin over your desk and repeatedly consult without having to refer back to the book. That alone is worth the purchase price. Also of value is Allen's ingenious Two-Minute Rule: if there's anything you absolutely must do that you can do right now in two minutes or less, then do it now, thus freeing up your time and mind tenfold over the long term. It's commonsense advice so obvious that most of us completely overlook it, much to our detriment; Allen excels at dispensing such wisdom in this useful, if somewhat belabored, self-improver aimed at everyone from CEOs to soccer moms (who we all know are more organized than most CEOs to start with). --Timothy Murphy --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Allen, a management consultant and executive coach, provides insights into attaining maximum efficiency and at the same time relaxing whenever one needs or wants to. Readers learn that there is no single means for perfecting organizational efficiency or productivity; rather, the author offers tools to focus energies strategically and tactically without letting anything fall through the cracks. He provides tips, techniques, and tricks for implementation of his workflow management plan, which has two basic components: capture all the things that need to get done into a workable, dependable system; and discipline oneself to make front-end decisions with an action plan for all inputs into that system. In short, do it (quickly), delegate it (appropriately), or defer it. While an infomercial for the author's consulting practice, this road map for organizational efficiency may help many who have too much to do in too little time, both professionally and in their personal lives. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

David Allen is widely recognized as the world's leading expert on personal and organizational productivity. His thirty-year pioneering research and coaching to corporate managers and CEOs of some of America's most prestigious corporations and institutions has earned him Forbes' recognition as one of the top five executive coaches in the U.S. and Business 2.0 magazine's inclusion in their 2006 list of the "50 Who Matter Now." Time Magazine called his flagship book, "Getting Things Done", "the definitive business self-help book of the decade." Fast Company Magazine called David "one of the world's most influential thinkers" in the arena of personal productivity, for his outstanding programs and writing on time and stress management, the power of aligned focus and vision, and his groundbreaking methodologies in management and executive peak performance.

David is the international best-selling author of "Getting Things Done: the Art of Stress-Free Productivity"; "Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life"; and "Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life".

He is the engineer of GTD®, the popular Getting Things Done® methodology that has shown millions how to transform a fast-paced, overwhelming, overcommitted life into one that is balanced, integrated, relaxed, and has more successful outcomes. GTD's broad appeal is based on the fact that it is applicable from the boardroom to the living room to the class room. It is hailed as "life changing" by students, busy parents, entrepreneurs and corporate executives. David is the Founder and Chairman of the David Allen Company, whose inspirational seminars, coaching, educational materials and practical products present individuals and organizations with a new model for "Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life." He continues to write articles and essays that address today's ever-changing issues about living and working in a fast-paced world while sustaining balance, control, and meaningful focus.

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Customer Reviews

David Allen's system is a beautiful thing.
Heather Ivester
If you implement even some of the methods in this book, your life will change for the better.
the wheelers
The book is very practical and easy to read.
Miro

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,725 of 1,804 people found the following review helpful By T on January 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
OK, first I have to admit I picked up the book at a local Border's where I had a copy on reserve. Having said that... I think I've tried every 'system' for organizing yourself out there. In the 80's it was Day-Timer and Day-Runner. Good calenders and address books, but not much else. 90's was Covey, and Franklin planning. Now we have 'roles and goals' which helps with long term planning but both systems were very inflexible when it came to planning your day to day stuff. I can remember Covey wanting me to plan out my entire week in advance. Nice in theory, but nowhere near reality for those of us whose jobs tend to be more 'crisis-oriented'. I've also tried Agenda, Ecco, Outlook, etc. but its hard to lug around your PC or laptop all the time. About two years ago I came across David Allen's tape seminar and I have to say its the best system I've ever found for organizing 'all' of your life. I can't say it's changed my life (I still have the same job, wife and kids and I still procrastinate too much <g>) but its certainly made all the difference in me being finally, actually organized on day-to-day basis. I'm now the only one in my office with a clean desk :)
The book covers just about the same material that I learned in the tape series. The tapes have more anecdotes and 'real-life' examples in them, but the book has a few new pearls and tricks that tells me David's been refining and polishing this system since the tape series.
Two last quick points: first, it requires no special binders or refills. You could use a cheap spiral notebook if you want. Personally, I use a palmpilot, which works well. Second, (IMHO) the Weekly Review is the cornerstone of making this system work, and its worked for me for two years. Remember that; it'll make sense once you read the book :) Now if I could only get David to come up with a system for procrastination....
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1,278 of 1,338 people found the following review helpful By J. Lebar on June 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
David Allen presents an awesome organizational system in this book. With just a little up-front effort, anyone really can become much more in control of his or her life. I wouldn't say that GDT has changed my life, but I'm definitely less stressed now that I follow the system.

The only problem is, Getting Things Done is terribly painful to read. The problem stems mainly from the fact that there are about fifty pages in the book that contain real information. The other two hundred pages are--no joke--almost word-for-word rehash of those fifty pages. If I had a dime for every time Allen wrote, "Your brain is like a computer. If you fill up its RAM with the things you have to do, you don't get anything done," I seriously would have recouped my investment in this book. I didn't appreciate that I had to search through the entire book to find just a few pages of original wisdom.

If you're interested in this system--and, again, the system really is great--I recommend you check the book out at your local library. If you later feel as though you need the book as a reference, you can always buy it. And if you do read this book, don't feel bad if you skip most of the introduction and all of the last section (which read almost like a fifty page ad for David Allen's consulting services) and if you skim most of the rest. I promise: You're not missing much.
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1,052 of 1,108 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is for all those who are overwhelmed with too many things to do, too little time to do them, and a general sense of unease that something important is being missed.
Everyone has experienced times when everything seemed effortless, and progress limitless. David Allen has captured ways for you to achieve that wonderful state of mind and consciousness more often.
His key concept is that every task, promise, or assignment has a place and a time. With everything in its proper place and time, you feel in control and replace the time spent on vague worrying with effective, timely action. As a result, the accomplishments grow while the pressure to accomplish decreases. As a result, the book contains many insights into "how to have more energy, be more relaxed, and get a lot more accomplished with much less effort."
The key psychological insight of this book is that rapid progress occurs when you take large, unformed tasks, and break them down and organize them into smaller, sequential steps for exactly what to do and when. The book provides lots of guidance and examples for how to do this.
The book is organized into three sections. The first gives you an overview of the whole process for how to get more done in a relaxed way. The second spells out the details of how to implement that process, in a way that a personal coach might use. The third provides subtle insights that help you appreciate the benefits that follow from using the process. Like all good coaches, Mr. Allen understands that appreciating a subject from several perspectives and getting lots of practice with it are critical steps in learning.
The process advocated by this book is described with lots of systems flow charts that will appeal to all of the engineers and left-brained people.
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298 of 324 people found the following review helpful By Colvini on January 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I attended one of David's seminars in 1986. As a result, I was able to successfully manage 101 concurrent projects, finishing on time and under budget. Fast forward to 2001. I keep this book by my side at all times (David publish it in Ebook form so it's easier to carry!). The company I'm with now wonders how I get the "impossible" projects done. Using David's techniques in the book, it seems like I can complete a full work day in fewer hours because I know what all my "next actions" are, and do them promptly. Gives me a lot of worry free time.
This is a book you "DO" not just read. Be prepared to work when you start out, but when the initial work is done, that's when the fun begins.
I cleaned my inbox and email box of 300 items in less than 15 minutes, filtering out the junk, the things that needed immediate attention, and the "someday maybe" things (like buying my first Harley).
This works for my personal life too. No more missed anniversaries, birthdays, phone calls, errands, etc.
Do you ever think about work projects at home? Do you ever think about home projects when you're at the office? Ever worry about that phone call you need to make or that errand you need to run? Forget it! Get the book. It's awesome. Get the book - period. If you don't, you deserve your stress.
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