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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity Paperback – December 31, 2002
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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.
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.
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My firm uses Daylite software (from Marketcircle) as the core of our GTD system, but there are many other applications you can use. Without the knowledge of Allen''s method, however, you won't get as much out if the software you use to manage your tasks.
The book is easy to read, and relatively short, with no fluff or filler whatsoever. Everyone should read this book. I've read it twice now.
I quickly became aware that most software that is meant to handle your to-dos is totally inadequate for use with the GTD system, so when I got a new iPod for Christmas, I bought "Toodledo" for my to-do management. Its entire structure is built around the GTD system. WOW! What a difference!
I also bought a new front end for the "Calendar" that comes with the iPod. It's called "PocketLife." It enters all its data into the same database that the original Calendar uses, so anything entered with "PocketLife" also appears in "Calendar." It gets backed up the same way.
It overcomes a weakness in the original "Calendar." It now allows me to enter events of the type that occur on the fourth Thursday of April, or on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November (election day).
The reason I gave the book 5 stars was because I found more than 1 thing that will help me be more productive and efficient. Even if you only learn one thing from his book and even if that one thing only saves you 1 hour per week, it is still worth the investment of reading this book.
The book has allowed me to clear my mind of many items and to become even more productive when it comes to e-mails and tasks. Before reading this book, I thought I was fairly efficiency but the extra tips and tricks really help.