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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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The long-awaited follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Getting Things Done.
David Allens Getting Things Done hit a nerve and ignited a movement with businesses, students, soccer moms, and techies all the way from Silicon Valley to Europe and Asia. Now, David Allen leads the world on a new path to achieve focus, control, and perspective. Throw out everything you know about productivity-- Making It All Work will make life and work a game you can win. For those who have already experienced the clarity of mind from reading Getting Things Done, Making It All Work will take the process to the next level.
David Allen shows us how to excel in dealing with our daily commitments, the unexpected, and the information overload that threatens to drown us. Making It All Work provides an instantly usable, success-building tool kit for staying ahead of the game.
Making It All Work addresses: how to figure out where you are in life and what you need; how to be your own consultant and a CEO of your life; moving from hope to trust in decision-making; when not to set goals; harnessing intuition, spontaneity, and serendipity; and why life is like business and business is like life.
This eagerly awaited follow-up to Getting Things Done is guaranteed to find an audience in todays competitive business environment and among David Allens many fans.
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It's important to be clear up front that this book is based on that first book, refers to it fairly often, and is covering much of the same material. He does attempt to structure the book so that newcomers can "catch up" along the way, but I'd suggest people read the first book first. As it turns out, since three years had passed between me reading that first book and this one, I appreciated the catch-up material. That being said, he spends the first 26 pages just yammering about why his system is so brilliant and beloved, and it's only after 26 pages that you even are told what his system is all about. That was frustrating. He should have begun with an overview and summary so the reader could relate to the things he was saying.
That being said, again the core of what he's explaining is extremely valuable. Anyone can learn these skills, and they make common sense. Your brain is great at being creative - so let other systems manage to-do lists and tracking things to remember so your brain isn't bogged down with those tasks. You don't try to memorize if your car needs gas or what its mileage is - you use gauges for that so your brain can be free to do the more important tasks of driving. So use calendars and lists to manage your life for you.
Free up your brain's time. Redundant thinking on the same to-do topics is a waste of time. Studies also show that the brain works best when it concentrates and focuses on one task. So help your brain do that.
The book uses the same type of important / urgent grid as other systems, here calling the grid perspective and control. The key is to try to work on things that are important and that you have control over. For each task on your list, figure out the next small step you can take so that you can easily scan and perform those tasks.
The focus aspect of this is key. Be mindful of what you're doing at any point in time. Journal your thoughts. Brainstorm and write down ALL ideas without judging them. The more you practice brainstorming and writing, the easier it gets.
Most of us have "stuff" all over the place waiting to be handled. By gathering things into one place, then sorting them, and setting up "homes" for them all, it helps make life much more manageable. You can even make a list for when you're "brain dead" - so that when you're exhausted you can simply choose an item and make some progress.
Be sure to scan the lists weekly to see if some items should be crossed off, and if new ones should be added on! That way you keep your lists under control and a part of your regular schedule.
Was it worth me getting this new book instead of just re-reading the initial one? I like to think that the more varied ways I read about something, the more it sinks in. I'm not sure if just re-reading a previous book would have made as much impact on me as hearing it in a different way. So while I do feel the intro was long winded and could be better written, I enjoyed the book immensely and it's revitalized my interest in mapping out my projects more thoroughly. So it did its job!
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.
Most recent customer reviews
The book is stale and repetitive.Read more