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Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life Hardcover – December 30, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
A rehashing of old—if successful—ground from his 2001 book Getting Things Done, Allen revisits his simple yet comprehensive system of organizing every aspect of one's life for career, professional and personal development—even addressing how to plan a vacation, choose a babysitter or arrange eldercare for a parent. The author's inarguable premise is that a complete and current inventory of commitments organized and reviewed in a systematic way can sharpen focus and allow for wiser decision making. Allen cautions that the book does not provide answers to tricky life choices; its methods will aid in developing the self-assurance to trust one's own solutions. Readers are guided through the process of obtaining control and perspective, organizing tasks and goals to reach the Getting Things Done (GTD) holy grail of an empty in-basket and e-mail inbox. Although the book purports to expand on the principles of GTD, there's very little new material in this latest offering, which serves more as a sales tool for the first one than for a project all on its own. Those seeking organizational nirvana would do best to invest in the original and give this one a pass. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is simply David Allen's best works ever. However, you won't know it right away, hence some of the below stellar reviews from others. Let me explain. I think that there are two mistakes made with the portrayal of this book: (Confusion #1) You can use this book as a starting point for GTD. I don't agree. Anyone new should start with book #1. Book #1 is about the overall value of GTD and its overall implementation. (Confusion #2) If you are new to GTD this book will be a good introduction. Again, I disagree. This book is for those actively engaged in living GTD and those who are beyond the initial learning process (maybe after 2 months of GTD living). While the first book goes into the wisdom of GTD, its mostly about implementation. This is a vital first step to changing the way you manage your life. This second book "Making it all work" is about "living" GTD. It is about taking GTD to a "higher level". I think most of the thoughts expressed in the second book will be lost on the average reader if they don't have some experience with GTD beforehand.
Ok, having stated that info up front: if you are a practicing GTDer, this book is a must read. My advice is to read it slowly. Maybe one chapter a day or every other day. This book is not a sit and read in one sitting. Its a "pour yourself a cup of coffee in the morning and think" about GTD book. It will help you to examine each aspect of GTD in greater detail. It will confirm if you understand or don't understand various concepts. It will help you to compose questions you can use in each step (actions, review, focus, roles, goals etc) to question if you are doing the right thing. In other words, it creates a conversation with yourself that exposes if you grasp or fail to understand various GTD principles. It will for sure expose areas for improvement and I feel that there is ample accompanying advice that lest you move forward.
I personally struggled with grasping and defining the "Areas of focus and responsibility" and this book along with some of the great interviews on GTD Connect (online) really brought it all into focus and made it clear. After completing this book, I realized that some of the GTD criticisms I have heard in the past (like how to prioritize, etc) are all wrong. The problem is that you need to be much further up the horizons for prioritization to kick in.
One surprising chapter is Chapter 19 "Making It All Work - in the Real World". This chapter is short, but a Gem. Its like a 5 minute conversation with David Allen and him walking you through the reality of GTD living and emphasizing the truly key components of any good GTD system.
I will now read this book once a year. I don't see much need to read book #1 again from year to year, as #1 is the introductory level and book #2 moves you to mastery.
So, don't let the first few chapters turn you off to the book, keep through to the end and you will be happy you did.
As a side note, I read this via the kindle device, the kindle app on my iPhone and the Kindle app for the mac. It was a very good reading experience. The exception being that there are some useful appendixes that contain useful checklists. They don't format well on the kindle.
This book is meant to sustain those using the GTD system. The philosophy of GTD goes beyond mere filing. We're meant to always access to the things we have pending. We need to review these things and think about them deeply in order to make the higher level decisions. It's possible to go years not making the higher level decisions simply because we're reacting to events so much of the time. The reason we use GTD is to enable us to make the big decisions that align our values and what we really want with our daily lives.
For me, GTD the way Allen explains it in Making It All Work seems forever out of reach. The moment an area is well-organized, new information and complexity floods in. It's as if the reward for doing things right is to get more things to do right. This may seem heretical and is certainly not meant that way. I recommend this book for those at least somewhat practiced with GTD.
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.
Maybe it was due to familIarity, but I find some of the language a bit repetitive -- like he's more concerned about the brand than the concept. The annoying tendency to capitalize Trademarkable Terms (tm) like "Horizons of Focus" is a big driver of my response in this regard. Still, though, it was a worthwhile read for me.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book is stale and repetitive.Read more