Customer Reviews: Getting Organized: Improving Focus, Organization and Productivity
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on April 24, 2008
This is a very good book to help you get organized. I originally had a three star and changed it to a four star. So many of this book's best elements are also found in David Allen's Getting Things Done. I read Allen's book last year and it knocked my socks off. When I read this, I wasn't as impressed as I would have if I read Crouch's before Allen's (they're both obviously drawing some of the best tidbits from some of the same material that preceded them). They have many, many of the same very helpful tips. The advantage of Crouch's is that is has short digestible chapters. However, an overall approach does not clearly emerge, just a bunch of big and small organizing ideas. An advantage of Allen's is that you get a clear, overarching approach into which all those good tips suggested in these books fit. Allen's chapters are longer, and though very readable, can get a little bogged down compared to Crouch. If I had only one book to buy, I'd get Allen's. However, I'm glad I read Crouch's because it has given me a refresher.

Getting organized is a major issue for many of us (I work two jobs, both of which require me to maintain an office). While one book may do it for some, I strongly believe that major habit changes will more likely come if you really plunge into an area like this. That means reading Crouch's book, Allen's book, and even Julie Morganstern's Organizing from the Inside Out. While Allen and Crouch focus on the office and home office (mail, home files, etc.), Morgenstern also covers garage, basement, closets, etc. I'm serious, to change the way you look at things, you need to read several books and make yourself an "expert." Otherwise, it will be a book you read that you're not likely to act on.

I read them in the order of 1) Allen, 2) Morgenstern and 3) Crouch. If any readers will choose to read all three of these, I'd recommend Crouch first, then Allen, then Morgenstern. Crouch will lure you in with his short little chapters (once you get past his too many introductory-type chapters before you get into the good stuff). Then, reinforce what you learn by reading a lot of overlapping stuff in Allen's book, but Allen will give you an outline or framework that ties it all together. Then, move on from the office to your closets and garage with Morgenstern. Of the three, Allen was the best for me, but I needed the others to sustain my momentum. Good luck!
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on June 30, 2008
I recently bought both this and Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity in order to stimulate my thinking about how to take charge of my incredibly busy job as a software development manager in an e-commerce company. I manage about 8 people directly and am also the prime facilitator for another project team of about 15 people, half of which are contractors. Like most people, I also have my own work projects and initiatives, as well as huge laundry list of personal items to keep up with.

At first I was a little turned off by the 55 super-short chapters, each of which is 1-2 pages in length and has a "What? So What? Now what?" layout. The writing quality seemed only average, and I was left thinking "Is that it?" after each chapter. However, after I finished the book rather quickly and then got bogged down in Getting Things Done, I realized that this is a pretty good layout for the target audience - people who feel too busy to read a book on productivity.

Many of the observations seem obvious, but that is one of the key messages of the book: we're all making this stuff away too complicated. How many of us take ten minutes each morning to set a focus and key priority list for the day? Or do we omit that simple step, or fall into the trap of checking email "just for a few minutes" first and then get seduced into following little shiny objects all day while missing the big picture?

The "Five Decisions" chapters - Discard, Delegate, Take Immediate Action, Put in a Reference File, and File for Follow-up - are important but I think are covered better in the other book. About half of the other chapters really resonated with me, which made it worthwhile overall. However, the author lost me when he spent 10 chapters describing a paper filing system with folders for each day of the month plus various other files. I agree that people shouldn't expect software and tools to solve all their problems, but I think a PDA or list software like Remember the Milk is much better than a paper system for anyone who works in multiple locations or is "on the go". I felt like he was being a bit techno-phobic, sort of like the guys who insist that LP records are better than CDs or MP3s.

Really the best way to improve your organization habits is to browse several books and articles on the topic, note the themes that recur (like planning time, grouping tasks by project or goal, etc.) and then choose a couple of things to focus on. I'd recommend this book as one of those resources but not the best-written or only one.
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on April 14, 2007
The book was NOT what I was expecting based on prior reviews. This is NOT a guide to life organizing and prioritizing but rather the author's idea of handling office incoming mail, a filing reminder system for phone calls to be made and work to be done, keeping things one needs to share with another individual in a central location, and scheduling and consolidating that sharing. For those who don't need a computer to do their job, have a memory like a sieve, or are super disorganized and don't know where to begin to start, this might be helpful, otherwise, save your money. His ideas are only practical in a low volume paperwork environment and with those who have non-technical professions. Some kind of portable, daily planner or calendar or a computer syncing PDA is much more practical.
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on July 13, 2007
You won't get rich from simply reading a "How to Get Rich" book and you won't get organized and productive from just reading any book - you have to take action and implement the ideas.

I have used the principles and ideas outlined in "Getting Organized" for several years and found them to be extremely valuable.

Becoming more organized and productive is not a matter of what type of filing system or PDA you use, it involves making a habit of organized and productive behavior.

This book provides concrete tools for forming those habits. Simply outstanding!
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on August 5, 2014
What an excellent book! It's clear and very helpful -- accomplishes things that David Allen's Getting Things Done can only dream about. Solid, practical techniques without all the fussiness and "psychology." Chris Crouch understands that people are busy -- his instructions are clear, easy to implement quickly, easy to visualize putting into practice. I began using the Jan-Dec and 1-31 day files immediately and it has gone a long way toward freeing up my desk space and ability to prioritize on my job. Highly, highly recommended.
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on September 8, 2012
I just had to acknowledge how much I am enjoying this book - and I rarely, so far, do reviews. I'm not very organized and Mr Crouch has identified my traits all too easily. At the same time his simple advice has sent shudders of hope and optimism about being able to get a much better grip on my life and my habits. I will keep this book close at hand and regard it as words from a mentor. A very heartfelt thanks for presenting this information.
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on February 3, 2013
The book is an easy read and provides some helpful tips - primarily the "Five Decisions" which in a way lie at the heart of the book.

1. Discard or recycle
2. Delegate
3. Take immediate action
4. Put in a reference file
5. File for follow-up

Now, for the follow-up, I am not convinced by the author's "Control Point Drawer". His suggestion is to have a huge number of files with different labels. If you follow this approach you will end up with over 50 files to keep track of. Many documents can belong to different categories, and you may find yourself looking in all 50 of them wondering where in the world you filed that piece of paper just when you need it badly. In my opinion, it is much more effective to scan as much paper as possible, keep it in your computer using a filing system that accomodates you and your line of business, and use one single To Do list in a spreadsheet that you can sort by date, category, etc. - as the author suggests in Chapter 41 "The Parable of the Spindle", although this method is downplayed in favour of the much cumbersome Control Point Drawer.

The final chapters are thrown in just as an afterthought in order to add some volume and pseudoscience to the book, like Personality Mismatches, Psychological Dysfunctions and Homeostasis Hump.

While the book has some useful ideas, I wouldn't rank it very high in a Getting Organised book list.
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on July 3, 2014
It was an interesting book that presents new ways of seeing things. The part that explains how you should file papers is not for me, because my files are digital. I hate the unnecessary printing. Beyond that, the recommendations and mental tools are good. The book gives many ideas that should be put into practice. Also, ware great the recommendations others books about the topic.
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on January 19, 2013
The book is purposefully succinct, operating on the theory that the reader does not wish to devote time reading lengthy informative text about research and philosophy, but needs a tool to use to make some smart changes. The 55 very short chapters are formatted to get straight from an issue to a fix. I was at first concerned that the methods described would not be applicable to my particular profession (teaching), but found no trouble at all in implementing a majority of the chapters. I have to say that Crouch's methods for handling the "incoming items" in my work world have served me well. I am better organized with the result of being less stressed and more focused. The work that use to seem like a swirling soup of demands for my time and attention is now divided into discrete tasks on which I can focus entirely and relax in knowing that all will be accomplished. My only criticism is the "workshop" language where analogies can get tiresome and cutesy names are applied to concepts. However, I would recommend this little book to someone who feels overwhelmed at their job due to demands that come from a variety of directions, with little regard for the accumulative effect on the workload.
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on June 3, 2012
I have to say this book really helped me get organized! I have read a couple before and just seemed a little complicated. What I liked about this book, is how being organized can also be simple. That works for me. For an organized person these ideas may be no brainers (I was exited about the 30 day filing system. When I told my wife she said "yeah, thats what I do at work!") For me the ideas were very practical.
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