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Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life Paperback – December 29, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Allen is president of The David Allen Company and has more than twenty years experience as a consultant and executive coach for such organizations as Microsoft, the Ford Foundation, L.L.Bean, and the World Bank. His work has been featured in Fast Company, Fortune, Atlantic Monthly, O, and many other publications.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 Reprint edition (December 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780143116622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143116622
  • ASIN: 0143116622
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
The original GTD is a modern masterpiece of its kind. Well paced, focused on details and intensely practical with just enough theory to put Allen's simple yet unique system in context. His second book, "Ready for Anything", had less immediate appeal and direct applicability but grows on repeated reading, providing more insights behind the basic processes of GTD. I keep both books to hand and dip into them frequently, and they have had a profound impact on how I now manage my work and life.

In trying to make "Making It All Work" a stand-alone volume, David Allen ends up repeating, in some cases less pithily, too much of the earlier material, and there are extended passages that are little more than a rewording of the original GTD book. This new book does provide a broader context and an enhanced perspective on the GTD system, and makes the system fit together more neatly along the two dimensions of control and perspective, although these two dimensions were evident enough in "Getting Things Done". For that alone, the book is worth reading, especially for GTD advocates looking to obtain further insights into the system (although members of GTD Connect, the GTD community, will be familiar with most of the material). I am sure it will provide further value on additional readings.

That said, there is relatively little new ground covered here. There is some fine tuning of earlier terminology, but this smacks rather too much of mere relabeling. Collection becomes "capturing", processing becomes "clarifying", reviewing becomes "reflecting" and doing becomes "engaging". The new terms sound more sophisticated but I feel the original terminology was more concrete and to the point.

The "six-level model for reviewing your work" is now the "Horizons of Focus".
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Format: Hardcover
Already have Getting Things Done (GTD)? You can comfortably skip this book and wait for one of your less-informed colleagues to buy it and borrow it for a lunch-time browse.

Making It All Work spends a lot of time explaining the how-we-got-here aspect of the GTD system, but it misses in providing tangible how-to, case studies and advice as the title implies. Too much focus on why GTD is good, why GTD works, why GTD is better than the other "priorities" systems and not enough real-world content.

I'm saddened to say I found MIAW a long-winded disappointment.
Spend your $20 on a labeler and re-read GTD.
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Format: Hardcover
If you're looking to use GTD principles with Microsoft Outlook, this is a great companion book to a more detail-level book, Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook by Michael Linenberger.

I read the first Getting Things Done book years ago but never really implemented it; I didn't find it was hands-on enough; I tried using Outlook Tasks and Categories to track "next actions" and goals, but it just didn't seem to cut it for me.

David Allen's new book repeats the same concepts but puts them in a different framework (the horizons you read about in other reviews here), but I found it did more to address some of the mental and physical obstacles toward using GTD. Essentially it gave me a good kick in the seat, to motivate me into better adopting GTD. It still is light on hands-on details for adopting this into your daily workload and tackling both the urgent and the important. But I think that's his approach, he teaches you the principles, you decide what software or methods to use to implement them.

The book inspires you to record many levels of information from your life purpose to the roles you fill every day, right down to logging a reminder to pick up a hammer at the hardware store tomorrow. It is liberating getting information out of your head and into a tracking system, but you have to be able to carry it on after a big bang of initial enthusiasm. If you never look at any of the information again, except to return phone calls or put deadlines on tasks, then you aren't getting the benefits of the system. If you have the original, but find yourself scrolling through these reviews on Amazon looking for a kickstart to get yourself into (back into) GTD, this book will help.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I started using GTD about two years ago after carrying around a Franklin Covey planner for several years. I struggled to stick with the Franklin Covey system in a fast-paced job where priorities shifted frequently.

GTD, in contrast, is a much more practical system that encompasses every aspect of personal work flow. Unlike my experience with Franklin Covey, it has stuck. It works beautifully.

Over time, I've come to appreciate that successful implementation of GTD is really more about habits of the mind than clever systems for managing lists and files. The concepts in GTD may seem like common sense, but applying that common sense systematically and comprehensively can be a long journey.

"Making it All Work" dives deeper into the subtleties of those mental habits. It has sharpened my GTD implementation, and given me even greater respect for the elegance, simplicity, and power of Allen's system.

The book also goes into much greater detail on the horizons of focus, something that most people don't pay a lot of attention to until they have been working with GTD for a while. I suspect that many GTD "veterans" will find this to be the real value of the book.

GTD is not "hard," as one reviewer wrote. It is actually very simple. Changing mental habits so that one is always asking "is this actionable," "what is the successful outcome," and "what is the next action" takes time and persistence, but it is not very difficult.

If you are new to GTD, put this book on your wish list and order "Getting Things Done" first. Try implementing the system for a few months, paying attention to the elements of the system that seem to come less naturally to you, and THEN order Making it All Work. I don't think that you will regret it.
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