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The KEY STEP: Ask Yourself, “What’s the Next Action?”
on May 4, 2014
David Allen builds upon his best selling original edition, adding some fun anecdotes, new research, and stories about how his clients have used his system. The author’s message is really the same--just some of the details have been updated to include the latest technology. In this edition, Mr. Allen also makes use of the many seminars he has given, updating his material based on their feedback. The author also adds new stories and suggestions for readings that were not in the original edition. Finally, he also includes the latest in research into the human brain. (See Chapter 15, “GTD and Cognitive Science.”)
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