81 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2009
The original GTD is a modern masterpiece of its kind. Well paced, focused on details and intensely practical with just enough theory to put Allen's simple yet unique system in context. His second book, "Ready for Anything", had less immediate appeal and direct applicability but grows on repeated reading, providing more insights behind the basic processes of GTD. I keep both books to hand and dip into them frequently, and they have had a profound impact on how I now manage my work and life.
In trying to make "Making It All Work" a stand-alone volume, David Allen ends up repeating, in some cases less pithily, too much of the earlier material, and there are extended passages that are little more than a rewording of the original GTD book. This new book does provide a broader context and an enhanced perspective on the GTD system, and makes the system fit together more neatly along the two dimensions of control and perspective, although these two dimensions were evident enough in "Getting Things Done". For that alone, the book is worth reading, especially for GTD advocates looking to obtain further insights into the system (although members of GTD Connect, the GTD community, will be familiar with most of the material). I am sure it will provide further value on additional readings.
That said, there is relatively little new ground covered here. There is some fine tuning of earlier terminology, but this smacks rather too much of mere relabeling. Collection becomes "capturing", processing becomes "clarifying", reviewing becomes "reflecting" and doing becomes "engaging". The new terms sound more sophisticated but I feel the original terminology was more concrete and to the point.
The "six-level model for reviewing your work" is now the "Horizons of Focus". This phrase has been adopted in David Allen's materials for some time now, but does not quite jive for me as: 1) "horizons" for most people convey horizontal distance, rather than the altitudes that these "horizons" refer to (30,000 ft, 40,000 ft etc.). In adjacent paragraphs he refers to "upper altitudes" and "elevated horizons" -- some mixed metaphors here; 2) it again suffers a little from being rather abstract, which the original GTD book largely avoided.
Perhaps tellingly, the original "Getting Things Done" was seen to focus primarily on the "getting control" dimension of self-management. "Making It All Work" again spends 125 pages on "getting control", double the 65 pages on "getting perspective". I had hoped the latter would have received more space and attention in this new book.
I also find the style in some places too long-winded, in a couple of cases inappropriate (does the phrase "anally retentive" really belong in a serious management book?) and the terminology inconsistent (his twenty thousand foot level refers to what he calls "Areas of Focus". However, while this appears to be the standard phrase, he also refers to it as "areas of responsibility and interest" and "areas of focus and responsibility", the latter in the title of a chapter. The use of title/heading styles also does not appear consistent, which makes the structure of some sections a little difficult to follow. In some places he also repetitively redefines terms he has already defined earlier.
None of these stylistic issues impact the meaning or the value of the underlying concepts, but leaves one wishing the editor had spent more time tightening up the style and terminology, as they do detract from the reading experience. "Getting Things Done" was solid in this respect. Terms are clearly and concretely defined and then used consistently, without unnecessary stylistic variations.
It is still necessary in my view to read the original "Getting Things Done" to get the the most of this book, which is primarily a useful companion volume, an elaboration of the earlier book's key concepts and frameworks and a refresher for those interested in Allen's ideas and methods.
160 of 173 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2009
Already have Getting Things Done (GTD)? You can comfortably skip this book and wait for one of your less-informed colleagues to buy it and borrow it for a lunch-time browse.
Making It All Work spends a lot of time explaining the how-we-got-here aspect of the GTD system, but it misses in providing tangible how-to, case studies and advice as the title implies. Too much focus on why GTD is good, why GTD works, why GTD is better than the other "priorities" systems and not enough real-world content.
I'm saddened to say I found MIAW a long-winded disappointment.
Spend your $20 on a labeler and re-read GTD.
72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2009
If you're looking to use GTD principles with Microsoft Outlook, this is a great companion book to a more detail-level book, Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook by Michael Linenberger.
I read the first Getting Things Done book years ago but never really implemented it; I didn't find it was hands-on enough; I tried using Outlook Tasks and Categories to track "next actions" and goals, but it just didn't seem to cut it for me.
David Allen's new book repeats the same concepts but puts them in a different framework (the horizons you read about in other reviews here), but I found it did more to address some of the mental and physical obstacles toward using GTD. Essentially it gave me a good kick in the seat, to motivate me into better adopting GTD. It still is light on hands-on details for adopting this into your daily workload and tackling both the urgent and the important. But I think that's his approach, he teaches you the principles, you decide what software or methods to use to implement them.
The book inspires you to record many levels of information from your life purpose to the roles you fill every day, right down to logging a reminder to pick up a hammer at the hardware store tomorrow. It is liberating getting information out of your head and into a tracking system, but you have to be able to carry it on after a big bang of initial enthusiasm. If you never look at any of the information again, except to return phone calls or put deadlines on tasks, then you aren't getting the benefits of the system. If you have the original, but find yourself scrolling through these reviews on Amazon looking for a kickstart to get yourself into (back into) GTD, this book will help.
The Total Workday Control book gives you very detailed step-by-step instructions on how to configure Outlook and use to manage your workload. To most of us Outlook is where tidal waves of e-mail just keep crashing in day after day, but there are ways to use it to implement GTD practices, without having to buy add-on tools, although there are many out there that can take it even further. Taking advantage of Outlook tasks, categories, and e-mail handling techniques, it's possible to be very GTD-compliant.
You might get tired of hearing some phrases in Making It All Work repeated over and over, but I found the book motivated me to get back at adopting GTD, even more than the first book did originally. Together with Michael Linenberger's book, there's a good combination there of high-level and detail-level guidance.
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2009
I started using GTD about two years ago after carrying around a Franklin Covey planner for several years. I struggled to stick with the Franklin Covey system in a fast-paced job where priorities shifted frequently.
GTD, in contrast, is a much more practical system that encompasses every aspect of personal work flow. Unlike my experience with Franklin Covey, it has stuck. It works beautifully.
Over time, I've come to appreciate that successful implementation of GTD is really more about habits of the mind than clever systems for managing lists and files. The concepts in GTD may seem like common sense, but applying that common sense systematically and comprehensively can be a long journey.
"Making it All Work" dives deeper into the subtleties of those mental habits. It has sharpened my GTD implementation, and given me even greater respect for the elegance, simplicity, and power of Allen's system.
The book also goes into much greater detail on the horizons of focus, something that most people don't pay a lot of attention to until they have been working with GTD for a while. I suspect that many GTD "veterans" will find this to be the real value of the book.
GTD is not "hard," as one reviewer wrote. It is actually very simple. Changing mental habits so that one is always asking "is this actionable," "what is the successful outcome," and "what is the next action" takes time and persistence, but it is not very difficult.
If you are new to GTD, put this book on your wish list and order "Getting Things Done" first. Try implementing the system for a few months, paying attention to the elements of the system that seem to come less naturally to you, and THEN order Making it All Work. I don't think that you will regret it.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2009
For those who have read and/or familiar with Allen's Getting Things Done, this is a great follow-up. If you like Allen's strategies for organization and general productivity, but occasionally find yourself "falling off the wagon," this book will help.
The book elucidates the major mindsets crucial to GTD, but sometimes gets too wrapped up in its philosophical approach. The "horizons of focus" will cloud your system if you worry about implementing them as actual co...more For those who have read and/or familiar with Allen's Getting Things Done, this is a great follow-up. If you like Allen's strategies for organization and general productivity, but occasionally find yourself "falling off the wagon," this book will help.
The book elucidates the major mindsets crucial to GTD, but sometimes gets too wrapped up in its philosophical approach. The "horizons of focus" will cloud your system if you worry about implementing them as actual components, rather than a way to encapsulate the entire GTD process. If you are interested in GTD as a system, I recommend that you start with the book of the same title, rather than this one.
The book contains some very helpful appendices, including a "project planning trigger list" to make sure that your mind dumps are complete, leaving no stone unturned.
Allen uses this book to address his critics, and does an admirable job. Much of the criticism of GTD has been aimed at purists or those who take Allen's ideas to an extreme. Allen allows for a certain amount of flexibility and custom-tailoring (indeed, mandates it) and this book will help you do that.
50 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2009
Like many people, I've read the original Getting Things Done book but haven't really implemented the system fully. I was hoping this book would help me do a better job of using the system. And that's what the book promises on page 7. But there aren't enough examples and tips to make it that much more worthwhile than the original GTD book; in fact, I don't think the time I've spent reading this book was even worth it. (And to respond in advance to comments I've seen on other reviews -- I paid for the book, so I read each and every page.) For the person who's never read the original book I could see reading this and then skimming the GTD book to get some practical details of the system. But IMHO I wish Allen had just revised the existing GTD book, adding a new section to each chapter because I think that's all the new material amounts to.
And one other thing -- the prose in this book reminded me of those english papers you'd write as a college sophomore where you string together big-sounding words to try to make what you're saying seem profound and insightful. Here's a typical example of what you're going to be wading thru in this book (pg 102): "When the task was broken down into one item at a time, it automatically triggered positive engagement with what had previously been an amorphous source of stress and procrastination." I think this means if you have a bunch of things you've been putting off, you'll feel better as soon as you do even one of them.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2009
Making It All Work is a much-needed addition to the GTD series. The original bestseller "Getting Things Done" sparked a cult of mechanical innovation (contexts, to-do lists, weekly review sessions, etc.) but did not explain the 'why' behind each method. Ultimately, and this is something I've realized only after several years of applying these principles, it's is not the mechanics that matters, and it's not about keeping well groomed to do lists and crossing off tasks, but rather, it's about managing your mind.
When you're overwhelmed with all the things going on in your life you fall into reactive mode and lose your sense of control. However, GTD is also not about reducing your life down to a checklist. Sometimes, you have to give yourself the permission to be a 'visionary' and run amok with your schedule. At other times, you have to take on the role of the 'implementer' and execute on those lists. The trick is in understanding that at different times you'll have to take on different roles and adjust accordingly.
David Allen explores all of these concepts in Making It All Work. I found the book to be a rewarding read as it brought a lot of clarity to own my thinking. Highly recommended.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2009
While we're all fans of David Allen's first breakthrough book, there is value in reading Making It All Work, too. He helps you analyze what often gets in the way of implementing his dynamic system. The reason GTD works is because it's a way of thinking, not a way of organizing. Skim through the first chapter and then, settle back and be willing to take a closer look at your own habits. As David points out, even fans of the GTD system usually implement onlly 10% of his recommendations. As an executive coach, I'm going to recommend this to clients --of course --AFTER they've read Getting Things Done. Suzanne Bates [...]
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
David Allen is the best-selling author of Getting Things Done and a leading authority and consultant on personal and professional productivity improvement. He developed an organizational system called Getting Things Done (GTD). GTD focuses on taking inventory of all of your personal and professional to-do's and commitments and gaining control and perspective using a five-stage process (Collecting, Processing, Organizing, Reviewing and Doing) - - and then integrating this work into his "6 Horizons of Focus" (Purpose/Principles, Vision, Goals & Objectives, Responsibilities, Projects, Next Actions).
The book is well organized, thoughtful, intelligently written, interesting and very readable - - in contrast to many other personal productivity books which can be dry, offer reams of lists and read like a text book.
If you read his 2 prior works, "Getting Things Done" and "Ready for Anything" there won't be much new here in terms of productivity steps or tactics - although he does a masterful job in framing the "Why's" of GTD discussed in his prior two books - which made this book worthy for me. If you hadn't read "Getting Things Done", I believe that you would benefit from starting there first to get grounded in his recommended processes.
I finished the book feeling like my time was well-spent, however implementation of the 5 Stages of Work Flow and the Six Horizons of Focus will continue to be a steep hill for me to climb in terms of time, attention and adherence to the rigors of the suggested process. Allen nails it for me early in the book where he states that there is still a wide gap between understanding and implementation (of GTD) - and I feel that I'll continue to wallow in the gap.
The Chapter headings are listed below:
2) The GTD Phenomenon
3) Making it all Work - The Process
4) The Fundamentals of Self-Management
5) Getting Control - Capturing
6) Getting Control - Clarifying
7) Getting Control - Organizing
8) Getting Control - Reflecting
9) Getting Control - Engaging
10) Getting Control - Applying this to life and work
11) Getting Perspective
12) Getting Perspective on the Runway: Next Actions
13) Getting Perspective at 10,000 Feet: Projects
14) Getting Perspective at 20,000 Feet: Areas of Focus and Responsibility
15) Getting Perspective at 30,000 Feet: Goals & Objectives
16) Getting Perspective at 40,000 Feet: Vision
17) Getting Perspective at 50,000 Feet: Purpose & Principles
18) Getting Perspective : Gracie's Gardens Revisited
19) Making it all Work - in the Real World
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2009
I am relatively surprised about the what I consider to be poor reviews of this book. David always writes well. That continues in this book. And while there aren't a huge number of practical new tips, it does an excellent job of reinforcing the basics of GTD. It also reframed some things to make aspects of GTD that I had missed more accessible. I recommend it.