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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The strongest part of this book is the explanation of why you feel stressed-out, always worrying about those unfinished tasks. This one chapter is itself well worth the price of admission. Here's the point: The brain subconsciously works away on those tasks, until you have decided to do something concrete: “Until those thoughts have been clarified and those decisions made, and the resulting data has been stored in a system that you absolutely know you will access and thing about when you need to, your brain can’t give up the job.” I found the author’s recognition of this brain activity a really great insight. Your brain just won’t let something go: “Your mind can’t let it go until and unless you park a reminder in a place it knows you will, without fail, look.”
His advice is simple, but persuasive: List all the tasks that are on your plate, create a folder for each one, and then list what specifically is the next step to do. That is, ask yourself, “What is the next action step?” Chapter 12, “The Power of the Next Action Decision” explains why this approach is so powerful. By doing this, your brain "knows" that the next step has been defined--it doesn't need to keep "spinning" away, pondering what to do. Mr. Allen notes that it is very frustrating, once you’ve embraced this approach, dealing with others who simply don’t get it: “It clarifies things so quickly that dealing with people and environments that don’t use it can seem nightmarish.”
My Kindle edition formatting was fine. As with the original edition, this book is very professional edited and designed. I don't think there are really any monstrous new scientific theories here, but the author provides some excellent, practical steps that you can take today.
All in all, a fun read, with some interesting new twists and research. If you’ve already read the original edition, and understand the author’s suggestions, you can probably skim through this edition quickly.
Advance copy provided for impartial review
I gave this book 4 stars because of it's difficulty to read. I've read the other comments and they are correct in saying that the book is not an easy read. At first, I thought it was difficult because it really rehabilitates your thought process and your unreliable personal management system. That still may be true but I thought that there were some areas that could have been explained easier.
If you don't mind a book that isn't "easy cheesy" then this is the book for you. I wouldn't say that this book is difficult, it's just not easy. It's dry in some areas but it's well worth the purchase.
This book has changed my life. I've had it for about 5 days, read the entire thing, and can really feel the changes. My productivity has increased dramatically and it feels good knowing that I am very reliable and will have the kind of personality that people can rely on. The only frustrating thing is once you change your way of thinking like the book suggest, other people that still tries to manage information on their "failed systems" will piss you off. For example, I've been waiting for someone to call me back with a contractor's contact info. There is no way I've would've forgot to call someone but relying on this person and their flawed management system is frustrating. No worries though, it is in on my "next action-call's list" to remind him tomorrow.
I'd recommend this book for anyone that is serious about changing their life to being a more productive human being. It really does allow me to be stress free. When I'm living in the now, I can do just that. Since everything is in my system, it doesn't cloud my mind. My wife is even shocked about my change and will start reading it soon.
Summary of my review
If you got the coin, buy the book, read it, apply it, never forsake it, be productive and stress free