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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity Paperback – March 17, 2015
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“I am a devout, card-carrying GTD true believer. . . . The entire approach has boosted not only my productivity but also my wider well-being. But what amazes me just as much is how deeply GTD has taken hold around the world. . . . This is a genuine movement.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive
“Getting Things Done offers help building the new mental skills needed in an age of multitasking and overload.”
—Sue Shellenbarger, The Wall Street Journal
“I recently attended David’s seminar on getting organized, and after seeing him in action I have hope. . . . David Allen’s seminar was an eye-opener.”
—Stewart Alsop, Fortune
“Allen drops down from high-level philosophizing to the fine details of time management. Take a minute to check this one out.”
—Mark Henricks, Entrepreneur
“David Allen’s productivity principles are rooted in big ideas . . . but they’re also eminently practical.”
—Keith H. Hammonds, Fast Company
“David Allen brings new clarity to the power of purpose, the essential nature of relaxation, and deceptively simple guidelines for getting things done. He employs extensive experience, personal stories, and his own recipe for simplicity, speed, and fun.”
—Frances Hesselbein, chairman, board of governors, Leader to Leader Institute
“Anyone who reads this book can apply this knowledge and these skills in their lives for immediate results.”
—Stephen P. Magee, chaired professor of business and economics, University of Texas at Austin
“A true skeptic of most management fixes, I have to say David’s program is a winner!”
—Joline Godfrey, CEO, Independent Means, Inc., and author of Our Wildest Dreams
“Getting Things Done describes an incredibly practical process that can help busy people regain control of their lives. It can help you be more successful. Even more important, it can help you have a happier life!”
—Marshall Goldsmith, coeditor, The Leader of the Future and Coaching for Leadership
“WARNING: Reading Getting Things Done can be hazardous to your old habits of procrastination. David Allen’s approach is refreshingly simple and intuitive. He provides the systems, tools, and tips to achieve profound results.”
—Carola Endicott, director, Quality Resources, New England Medical Center
About the Author
David Allen is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert on personal and organizational productivity. He has more than thirty years of pioneering research and experience as a management consultant and executive coach to some of America’s most prestigious organizations, such as New York Life, the World Bank, and the U.S. Navy.
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This new edition goes into more theory, but that makes it much harder to use as a concise guide of how to get things done.
I loved the first edition, but the 2015 edition was tedious to read and I didn't have the patience to get through it. Too bad he ruined a good thing. It would have been better if he'd added a companion book with all the non-actionable theory, or separate chapters.
I purchased the original in March 2001 for use with my Palm Pilot. I subsequently purchased the Outlook add-in around 2007; and my company had a GTD consultant onsite and provided us access to GTD Connect in 2008. I've found the workflow and methodology useful. The underlying original strength of GTD is that the book not only states "what" has to happen, but through a specific methodology also "how" to make it happen.
I was so excited about this 2015 update, with my expectations of entry to the digital age that I pre-purchased in Nov 2014. Just received the book today and I'm sorry to say that David is essentially punting on digital-age specifics in favor of generalities. Further, David admits that this is not a rewrite (though he did "retype the original manuscript").
I'm actually fine with the retype vs rewrite though - as he states, the core ideas and methodology of GTD remain the same. But the reason I went to GTD in the first place was that it provided specific workflows incorporating paper and pencil and Outlook and PDAs - he had done the work to figure out what works and I was happy to adopt his recommendations.
Since the original release there has been a profound shift in the use of technology - hardware, software, mobile and cloud. 2015 finds us in much more diversified and integrated data input/output environment than what the Palm and MSOffice suite offered in 2000, and so there is a very good reason to update the "how" part of the equation to manage this new information capture and task-list ecosystem.
In the new edition, the author provides some digital guideline feature specifics (software outline program should allow for sub-headings, expand/collapse ability), even more generalities, but mostly just derails the digital conversation of any 'how' by sweeping particulars under the carpet with a few ambiguities of "what" needs to be done, not "how" to do it, "Make sure you create comfort with the [computer] applications ["used for developing and capturing project plans and collateral"]. It will behoove you to do regular reviews and updating of this content and keep it current with consistent purging and reorganizing."
Punting on digital specifics of today's workflow world because, in his words, “the rate of innovation in this area means that any specific software program can easily be outdated, upgraded, or undermined by the next new thing", and that he has admittedly "hopped out of the fray, opting instead to provide a general model for how to evaluate the usefulness of any tool" is, for me, not useful. I *know* there is a plethora of digital tool options, and I wanted him to do the work and figure out what works. Fine, publish a revision when the tools change, I'll buy it. That's why he and his team get paid the big bucks. But if I wanted to spend my time figuring the complexity of tools out myself I'd have done that from day one. To me, this would be like Lonely Planets back-peddling on restaurant and hotel reviews. "Oh, there are just sooo many these days, let us tell you what to look for instead,,,, try to find a restaurant with lots of people in it, and look for a hotel with clean sheets." Uh, yea.
The original methodology and task-driven workflow remains true in the 2015 book as in the original. The "psycap" and other psychological drivers and underpinnings are interesting in the new book. But whereas I was confident that I had a pretty holistic system set-up as a result of the original book (and actually, as much a result of a smaller digital footprint, and I know I'm not the exception), I now feel, with this "completely updated" edition, that I have half a system with a digital divide, a "black hole" as the author even alludes.
I understand all the high reviews, the methodology is still very good as described, and yes, freshened. My rating of this book is as a version updated for what we would all agree is an increasingly digital world and unfortunately, whereas the "what" might be explained, I find the book lacking on the "how". I agree that it has helped me refine my thinking about how to use GTD in the digital age,,, i.e., I now think that I cannot rely just on this one book as a holistic model of how to get it all done ;)
For anyone new to GTD, go ahead and buy this 2015 version, or save some money and buy the paperback original for a $1.50 and you'll learn the essentials that have not changed. For anyone versed in GTD, I offer David's statement from this new book: "...whenever anyone loops back through the material, they invariably have a response like, "Oh my God, this is totally different information and perspective" than what they had remembered from earlier, "it was a totally different book each time!" So if you have an earlier GTD book? Just reread it and you'll likely get the same "new" experience and fresh perspective as from this 2015 book, particularly given that there really are no digital age specifics that many of us were hoping for.
Speaking of habits, his recommendation of Charles Duhigg's book The Power of Habit, led me to go out and read/listen to that book, and I truly believe it has changed my life. You can read my review of it as soon as I write it.
I used Mr. Allen's approach, setting up a spreadsheet with tabs to record everything, from stuff to do, to projects, to reminders, to calendars, and even longer range planning.
The basis of his approach is to write everything down, so that you're not trying to remember anything in your head. It's like cleaning up your attic (except the attic is your brain). I found that my productivity has probably doubled. I have also become a more jealous guard of tasks I'm willing to take on (unless their easy 2 minute jobs, then no worries!)
I did have to customize my approach a bit so that it works for me. I could see that for some people it might be a little difficult to put his system in practice. But if your willing to take his approach at face value, I'm sure you'll get great productivity gains and peace of mind.