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1,739 of 1,820 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best I've found.
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...
Published on January 9, 2001 by T

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1,300 of 1,363 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas in a terrible package
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...
Published on June 5, 2006 by J. Lebar


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1,739 of 1,820 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best I've found., January 9, 2001
By 
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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1,300 of 1,363 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas in a terrible package, June 5, 2006
This review is from: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (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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1,056 of 1,113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flow from Angst to Action . . . and Relax!, January 15, 2001
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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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. The right-brained people will find lots of discussions about emotions, feelings, and stress. So both types of thinkers should do well with this material.
The essence of the process is that you write down a note about everything when you take on a new responsibility, make a new commitment, or have a useful thought. All of this ends up in some kind of "in" box. You then go through your "in" box and decide what needs to be done next for each item. For simple issues, this includes identifying the action you should take first and when to take it. For tougher issues, you schedule an appropriate time to work the problem in more detail. You organize the results of this thinking, and review your options for what you should be doing weekly. Then you take what you choose to do, and act. Think of this process as the following five steps: (1) collect (2) process (3) organize (4) decide (5) act.
For the tougher problems, you start with identifying your purpose and principles so you know why you care how it all turns out. Then you imagine the potential good outcomes that you would like. Following that, you brainstorm with others the best way to get those outcomes. Then you organize the best pathway. Finally, you identify the first actions you need to take. Then you act, as in step 5 above.
From this outline, I hope that you can see that this is not rocket science. It is simple common sense, but with discipline. The critical part is the discipline because that is what focuses your attention where it will do the most good. For example, rather than sitting on something you have no idea how to get started, you can decide right away to get ideas from others on what the purpose and principles are that should be used in selecting a solution. So, you are in motion, and you have saved much time and anxiety.
What I learned from this book is that many people allow a lot of time to pass without taking any useful steps because they cannot imagine what to do next. This process should usually overcome that problem by showing you what to work on, providing methods to accomplish that step in the process, and guiding you to places where you can get appropriate help. As a result, this book should help overcome the bureaucracy and communications stalls that bedevil most organizations.
This fits from my own experience in helping people solve problems. If you simplify the questions and make them into familiar ones, everyone soon finds powerful alternatives drawn from a lifetime of experiences and memories. Keep things broad, abstract, and vague, and peoples' eyes glaze over while they struggle for a place to begin.
After you have finished reading and applying this book, I suggest that you share your new learning with those you see around you who are the most stressed out. By helping them gain relaxed control of their activities, you will also be able to enjoy the benefits of their increased effectiveness in supporting your own efforts.
May you always get the tools you need, understand what to do next, and move swiftly through timely actions!
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302 of 329 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time Tested Principals, January 9, 2002
By 
Colvini (Colorado Springs, God's Country) - See all my reviews
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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279 of 304 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful (But Also Potentially Dangerous), June 7, 2005
By 
Ted Pearlman (Denver, CO United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Paperback)
"Getting Things Done" is an incredibly helpful book. It's been indispensable for my personal productivity. It teaches you to do a few things well and does so in a relatively clear manner.

However, it has two serious problems. First, it is presented as a complete organizational system, when it is not. Second, it encourages a seat-of-the-pants, ju-jitsu approach to daily life that can be very counterproductive and exhausting.

But, first the good. For me, the main gist of the book is this: if you try to keep your life organized in your head, you will not be maximally productive. You'll be using an inordinate amount of energy trying to mentally keep track of all your "to do" items. "Getting Things Done" shows you how to get all of these out of your head and into a system so you can concentrate on the present and attack each action item one at a time. This is good stuff.

But, now, the bad (or not so good):

The first problem is "Getting Things Done" provides no guidance on how to prioritize your projects or sub-projects. It does not help you decide what to do next. Instead, it helps you produce very organized, contextual lists of next actions to take. To decide WHICH next action to take, it just recommends that you use your instincts. For many people, one of the big problems (and often THE big problem) with their organization is DECIDING which projects to work on when; and GTD is of absolutely no help. This is not an insurmountable problem as there are books ("Time Power" by Charles Hobbs) and computer programs (Life Balance from Llamagraphics), that can help you prioritize.

The second problem, and perhaps considerably more grave, is "Getting Things Done" encourages you not to plan. It encourages you to simply decide in each moment what to do (based on the excellent lists and reminder system you've created). It encourages a seat-of-the-pants, ju-jitsu approach to daily life. And this is a BIG problem for a lot of people, myself included. If you have trouble prioritizing what to do next in your day and life, then having to make those prioritizing decisions 200 times a day, as GTD encourages, is incredibly draining. GTD preaches that you live life efficiently, but that there's no need for habits or rituals. This is a contradiction and truly counter-productive.

If there's one common thread that you get from reading the biographies of incredibly productive and successful people, it's this: they have very regular, structured, and beneficial habits and rituals. They do not "wing it." "Getting Things Done" could be retitled "Winging It In the Most Efficient Manner Possible." There are successful people, of course, who do "wing it," but the vast majority of successful people are habit- and ritual- driven. That goes especially for work habits (and often for sleep habits, exercise habits, eating habits, and social habits, too). For a great example of this, read "On Writing," by Stephen King.

If you read "Getting Things Done," seriously consider supplementing it with "The Power of Full Engagement," by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz -- especially chapter 10, "The Power of Positive Rituals." It explains very convincingly why purposefully "winging it," even in the most efficient manner, will not work and could be your undoing.

"Getting Things Done" is still a great book, but it does not stand well, on its own, as a system for organizing your life. It needs supplementation.
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82 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Buy, To Read, To Do, DONE!, January 19, 2004
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Paperback)
The Summary
Bottom line, read this book! Act on this book, its not as daunting as it sounds. Spending 2 days setting up this system could prove the most valuable thing you do! Make a resolution to get things done! It really is worth following the advice, even the small things which seem irrelevant i.e. buying an automatic labeler; it really does help when you want to file something! If you are a procrastinator you NEED to read this book, it will explain to why you have had so much stress in your life. Also for all those people out there who consider themselves creative and hence feel that time management and organizational system aren't for them because they fear it will stifle their creativity, well read this book and try it!! I really feel more creative since I got all this unimportant stuff out of mind!!
The Why
OK All procrastinators out there, this book really works! Let me tell you a little about myself and then you might understand why this book has been so important to me. I am a world class procrastinator, or should I say was! I had every excuse in the book for why I felt time management systems, to do lists, organization methods just don't work. I am a creative guy and I always felt that getting organized would some how decrease my creative thoughts and ideas. Some of my best ideas came from the mess of papers and books around my study and I thought if I got organized that this would somehow stifle my creativity. The other aspect that always held me back was I didn't want to waste lots of time implementing a system and then just keep maintaining the system and not have time to do the "real" work. Even though I have all these excuses, I knew deep down they were just excuses. I could not work out why I had such a barrier to these systems. I have looked at and half heartedly tried many different systems, Franklin Covey, Time Manager, I have many different organizers and PDA's that I just don't use. I didn't realize it until I read this book, but a lot of my fear stemmed from that I always felt that there was so much that these systems wouldn't catch and I would lose ideas. Most systems don't seem to cope well with unstructured ideas, thoughts, magazine articles etc... And they don't seem to mesh electronic information and paper based information. I wasn't interested in just another system that managed my schedule and to do lists, I needed something that would cope with the way that I worked and wouldn't stifle my creativity! Getting Things Done! Managed to develop a system that incorporated everything and I felt that things weren't getting lost! Wow! It feels good!
The How
I committed to read it and start taking action on January 1st (like all good procrastinators, New Years resolutions are plentiful and always ambitious. We all have good intentions!). Well this is a resolution that I kept. I first worked through my home office and piled up everything that needed to be looked at into the "In Basket" (or pile(s) as it turned out). It took half the floor space in my study. I had purchased the labeling system; I had files, file drawers, staplers, paper clips etc... I had it all together, and I started processing. I finally had all my work papers processed. I then started in on my work email; I had a backlog going back to Nov 2002. By the time I had finished I had my Inbox down to zero!! It took 14 hours! I had purchased the Outlook Add-on that helped me setup my Outlook Folders and it even gives you an easy toolbar to process all new email. My next task was processing all Non-work stuff, which included all creative projects. This took another 8 hours over 2 days, but I finally got it processed, filed away and task lists setup! I have only been back at work for a week, but I have kept processing all incoming messages and with a little work I have kept my email inbox empty and I have all the important tasks and projects setup. This is a major accomplishment! It really has freed my mind to concentrate on creative projects, be able to tackle my work better. My worst fear of being organized has not been realized, actually the direct opposite, I have had more creative ideas since I started than I had before! My mind is clear and free to roam! It feels amazing to know everything you are supposed to be doing (and also to know everything you don't need to be doing), and it's amazing to know that something is captured and even if I don't do this now, I have an action to do it; this means my mind doesn't feel shackled.
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74 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST-READ FOR WORK-AT-HOME MOMS, September 8, 2005
This review is from: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Paperback)
GETTING THINGS DONE is the book everyone's talking about. If you haven't read it, you need to get a copy. I didn't buy this book for myself; it was a gift from someone who knows I get overwhelmed at times trying to manage a home business as well as a busy household. (What to do about thousands of emails! What to do about 80 million exciting projects I want to get involved with! What to do about getting kids' school papers organized! What to do about supper!)

I've read tons of books on getting organized, but I can say this one is the grand finale. Here's what I used to do: make a daily to-do list that I think about all day. Worry about the things I didn't get around to doing. Talk about how worried I am about the things I need to do. Then go to bed discouraged, transferring my to-do list to another day.

Forget this system. It doesn't work, and it makes you one stressed-out person. Especially if you're a mom, and you can't accomplish all the things you know you COULD accomplish if it were just you. You've got a house full of people and pets and projects and plans that interrupt your goal-setting and list-making.

David Allen's system is a beautiful thing. Don't throw away your leather calendar, your Blackberry, or PDA -- whatever it is that you use -- keep it. Just use your calendar to record those events that must be etched in stone: work deadlines, doctor appointments, birthday parties, soccer games, the day you're supposed to bring a meal to someone, etc. You'll need your calendar for those things. But DON"T use it to make a to-do list.

First of all, you've got to process all of your STUFF and start thinking in terms of in-box. Allen says the reason why people are stressed out is because there are so many "open loops" in their lives -- things they mull over that aren't complete. Instead, you need to think in terms of "What's the next action?" Make a list of your projects, and put it into a folder, labeled "Project list." This includes anything that is an open loop that you need to get done.

Next, take a single sheet of paper for each open loop and write "Next action" at the top. So, instead of writing, "Tires" on your list when your car needs new tires, you'll write the steps you need to do. 1) Call Fred who knows the good place to get new tires. 2) Call tire place and check out prices 3) Make appt. 4) Drop car off to get new tires. Using this method allows you to completely free your mind because it's all written down, allowing you to have a "mind like water."

What works well about this Next-Action technique is that you can make productive use of minutes here and there throughout the day when your energy or concentration may not be at their maximum. If you're stuck in the carpool line, make a few calls on your cell phone (but DON'T waste time talking on your cell phone when your kids are in the car! Talk to your kids! That's my personal pet peeve when I see parents ignoring their kids to talk on their cell phone...)

Allen says, "This is one of the best reasons for having very clean edges to your personal management system; it makes it easy to continue doing productive activity when you're not in top form."

What's the end result? The author says, "When people with whom you interact notice that without fail you receive, process, and organize in an airtight manner the exchanges and agreements they have with you, they begin to trust you in a unique way...It noticeably enhances your mental well-being and improves the power of your communications and relationships, both personally and professionally."

The ultimate goal of this incredible system is that your mind is freed up to do what you REALLY love to do, and that is THINK. Don't most of us wish we could just FOCUS when we want to without our minds jumping around to the meat we've got to thaw, the vet appointment we need to make, the errand we forgot to run, etc.? YES!

Well, I've oversimplified things to write this review. Just get the book and read it. Allen also has an active website where you can find a helpful community of people all implementing this system. What I liked most about the book is that Allen says it's the brightest, most imaginative people who really struggle -- because we think of all the possible outcomes and we freeze our agendas. Using his techniques to "do it, defer it, delegate it, or drop it," we can forge ahead.

Enough said. I've got to go get some things done.

--Reviewed by Heather Lynn Ivester
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101 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make it Up and Get it Done, January 9, 2001
By A Customer
Is the methodology from Getting Things Done the silver bullet? Does David Allen's system really differ from other "time management" systems? I would say an unqualified yes based on my experience with the GTD process so far. In the one week since the book's been out I have made more progress with regard to collecting my stuff than previous attempts I have made in the past 6 years. I have actually started a filing system. More importantly, I am starting to deal with the "stuff" in my life faster and more efficiently. Just learning how to deal with "stuff" is a pretty big deal to me. My problem is that I have obsessive compulsive disorder, and it shows up in my life as compulsive hoarding. Couple the hoarding with attention deficit disorder and you have the ingredients for potentially disastrous living. In short, I have a damn difficult time staying on top of things and tend to struggle at times. David's method offers a practical yet elegant solution to staying on top of things. It starts with collecting the stuff, or as David calls it the "incomplete" and getting them out of your head into an external system that can be trusted. Then you process what's collected and then you organize it. Trust me, collecting and processing stuff is tough, really really tough for someone like. me. I am not used to making decisions on things that I collect. Now I am collecting the clutter and making decisions on it. More importantly, I am learning to let go of stuff I don't need and taking action on things I need to deal with. I have a long road to travel, but thanks to the common sense wisdom David Allen shares, I am on the road to a more sane way of living.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the Judo of common sense, April 7, 2006
By 
I was pretty organized and efficient before reading GTD--over the years I had learned a lot of the guidelines Allen pushes, such as the Two Minute Rule and the axiom that you always identify the Next Action in any project. As he says, most of this is just common sense.

For me the big benefit of his system lies in the concept of emptying your head. It sounds trite, but it really works. As Allen states, in busy, chaotic modern life our minds must constantly work to remember all kinds of details and loose ends. We carry around so much of this mental noise we are no longer even conscious of it. Yet it is draining our energy and stressing us. After I had cleared all this "stuff" out of my head I immediately felt different. My wife even said I seemed more relaxed. And after several months the effect has persisted, because I have kept the discipline so far.

And as Allen also predicts, I feel more creative. With the stress reduced, you just naturally have more ideas. Your mind feels clearer. It is kind of weird.

WARNING: Another side effect is that you start thinking more about the big picture--where am I going, what am I doing--only now you find yourself really able to concentrate on these things. This can be uncomfortable if you were happy in the old rut. But Allen also predicts that this can happen. The book is based on his twenty years of coaching/consulting work.

This last effect is a shock, considering that GTD is so bottom-up, take-care-of-the-details, in its approach. It is all a bit like the old Voltaire schtick: tend to your own garden and the world will take of itself. I was on guard for something more like Covey's Seven Habits with its top-down approach. I am not a Self-Help/Business-Guru Book groupie. I see by the Amazon reviews that many people read loads of these books and become real connoiseurs, so they can compare among them and I can't. Years ago, however, I heard so much fuss about Seven Habits that I broke down and read it. What a contrast to GTD: folksy, patronizing, preachy, and puritanical. If you are a good person you will be rewarded materially. As if scoundrels can't be efficient and successful. Allen's tone, on the other hand is grown up, practical, and business-like. A lot of his wisdom and seriousness comes through indirectly, and he alludes to higher things, but thankfully, consciously decides not to go there.

Seven Habits brings to mind another point: I always disliked DayTimers and all that kind of thing. In the real world schedules don't survive. GTD promotes a loose, flexible system that matches what I have been doing for years: having my work and priorities mapped out but, as far as possible, not scheduled.

Another laudable thing: refreshingly, Allen is not selling any software, stationary, calendars, schedulers, workbooks, or other collateral; GTD is a system or a method, but it's implementation is up to you. You can use paper, notebooks, folders, a PDA, a PC, whatever works for you. Essentially, as he often reminds, you are simply keeping lists, in order to get all the "stuff" out of your head.

Implementing the system might require a couple of weekends, but you will not likely regret it.
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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly the guide to stress-free productivity, July 21, 2001
I manage a team of twenty, in a very stress-filled IT environment. We juggle multiple projects with overlapping deadlines all the time. This book taught me far more than the well known time management guides and gurus. I learned to put EVERYTHING - my work life, personal life, dream life into one place, and organize it all based on me - my life, current job, etc. I also used it to help my team. We now breeze through our deadlines, with lots of productivity and very little stress. We are able to work long hours when needed, and take time off when needed. I urge anyone who is feeling overwhelmed in their life and career to give this process a try. You will be very glad you did.

I also recommend his other books:

Ready for Anything
Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life

David Allen has a wonderful web site [...] where you can get more GTD information, podcasts, products and lots of free GTD coaching tips.
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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Paperback - December 31, 2002)
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