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Getting Things Done (2001) — 5 years ago


David Allen’s system really helps get things off your mind. Your brain doesn’t obsess over all the things you have to do because those things are captured in a trustworthy system. The whole goal, as Allen says, is to have a “mind like water” — a clear mind capable of having great ideas and doing great work.

This system is easy to personalize and to adapt for the organizational tools you like to use. To get it to work for you, I recommend that you make it your own, instead of trying to implement it exactly as Allen does.

A review of this — 6 years ago


I’d heard so much over the past year about GTD this and GTD that. I had no idea what folks were talking about until Richard Poole began blogging about his desire for personal organization and how using the “Getting Things Done” principles found in David Allen’s book had helped him.

During his process, he also began reviewing several pieces of software that applied the GTD concepts. They included Thinking Rock, iGTD, and Omnifocus.

Since I am a fluid thinker and tortuous multi-tasker, I filed the book away mentally as something I’d like to get done… It wasn’t too long before a particularly overwhelming week hit that provoked me to finally order the copy of the book that had been sitting in my Amazon Wishlist.

I’ve been plowing through it for several weeks, and I must admit that it almost immediately began transforming my workspaces and habits. One of the primary points of Allen’s material is that our brains are profoundly able to retain information…. That’s not necessarily a good thing for many of us.

Every little to-do, project, honey-do, and urgent item that has ever crossed your mind is still buried in there somewhere. Over the course of time, you began to feel stressed and overwhelmed because you’re juggling so much mentally. Even things that carry relatively no weight – things that you just occasionally want to get to “someday” – occupy your mind with equal frequency as the need to finalize that big project.

So the first thing you do with GTD is simply to begin the collection process. Allen recommends setting aside an entire day for this. It’s a literal, physical collection process. Everything that lying around your house, office, in files on your computer, bulging email inbox, and floating around in your brain becomes part of this process. The goal is to simply empty it all into appropriate “collection buckets.” Whether file folders, trash cans or folders on your computer, Allen’s book guides you through this process.

As I’ve done this, I must admit that it’s mentally freeing to see accumulated piles of stuff – some things in them dating back a few years! – disappearing and being acted on, filed, or trashed.

The next step is “processing.” After collecting everything into one spot, now begins the time-consuming step of going through it all. He advocates a 2-minute rule in this step. If you come across something that you realize you could get done within 2 minutes, then stop and do it then. You’ll be surprised – I was – of how true that is. It’s also VERY encouraging to see things dwindling and getting done.

The next step is “organizing.” It’s this step that I’m still working on, but I’ve purchased a little file stand for my new filing system. Allen recommends the following broad categories: a “tickler” file (Someday/Maybe), Errands, Waiting (things that you’ve passed off to someone else but need to remind yourself of), Projects, and Reference (things you don’t need to act on but want to keep).

Obviously, you’ll also begin to create a more indepth filing system, but those are essential. Allen’s book is definitely not “pie-in-the-sky;” rather, it’s extremely practical and immediately useful.

After processing comes “reviewing.” You must carve into your weekly calendar a set time to sit down and review what you’ve filed. If you don’t, you’re in danger of simply getting things out of your mind and forgetting what you got them out of your mind for. You do the mind-dump in order to become more proficient and focused on what you begin to “do.”

And that’s the final step – “doing.” Start asking yourself about each project, task and floating idea, “What’s the next action step I could take on this that would advance it forward?” As you take that step, (and more like it as you then identify the next step after it), you’ll see even the largest, most daunting duties reducing in size and complexity.

I’m passing this book off to wifey, in the hopes she’ll digest it as well. It’s going on my yearly read/review list because I sense it’s one of those areas that in which I’ll need to be challenged again.

Here’s the process:

Why I want to consume this — 6 years ago

I tried to read this book before and never finished it. I’m going to try it again, as I find that things I am doing right now keep reminding me of it.

Collect. Process. Organize. Review. Do — 6 years ago


Great book!

Philosophical concepts as well as practical tips to improve your professional/personal productivity.


· you can never be prepared for what is new

· open mind is open to everything

· think about the big things while doing

  the small ones

· if you’re not totally clear about the purpose

  of what you’re doing, you have no chance of winning

· imagination is more important than knowledge

· free your mind, your best ideas about work

  won’t happen while you’re at work

· the middle of every successful project looks

  like a disaster

· your tools are important (function follows form)


· stay relaxed (mind like water)

· clarify your commitments

· capture everything (into trusted system)

  and get it out ouf your mind

· describe successful outcome in a single sentence

· 5 stages of work:






· clean up/review weekly

· review:



    areas of interest

    2yr goals

    5yr visions


· celebrate any progess, don’t wait to get perfect

· brainstorm (the best way to get a great idea

  is to get lots of ideas)

· project phases





· date everything you handwrite

· create context lists (at computer, calls, …)

· focus on ONE thing

· learn to say NO

· trust your intuition

· plan from bottom and elevate the focus

· always ask “why am I doing this?”


· project manager

· task list

· calendar

· communicator (phone + email + im)

· inbox

· archive

· maybe list

· pencil + paper

A question I have about this — 6 years ago


There are only two nuggets of advice that I’ve been able to implement. (Well sometimes. It’s hard for me to change habits.) The first is the two minute rule. I have a lot of little 15 minute blocks. So I try to use these time cells for phone calls.

The second is to lower my expectations. It’s a bit challenging because I am quite obsessive about detail and I tend to work on something more than necessary so that it can be perfect.

What other time management books have others read and co-opted into their daily lives?

A story about this — 6 years ago


Also, I don’t think this book really serves its main target audience—busy multi-taskers who want to do it all and can’t say no. They probably have too much to do before they can complete the book in order to use and understand this system. It only works if the harried executive has a strong administrative assistant who can digest this book and then put limits on the boss for everyone’s sanity.

Maybe the author made this book more longer and wordier than it should be due to a hidden commercial agenda. I can see an executive barely squeezing the time to get through two chapters and then paging his secretary so they can make a personal appointment with the author.

A review of this — 6 years ago


Wny, why, why did I waste my time reading this? It was not intended for somebody with my lifestyle and temperament. I am not an executive. I am a slacker. I also have a bit of a packrat/Collier Brothers situation in my apartment. My home “office” area of my apartment is quite disorganized. The author states that one must begin by organizing your filing systems (virtual or physical) so that you can have easy to use inboxes. That’s an obvious first hurdle I must conquer in order for me to have an organizing system like this work.

A story about this — 6 years ago

My husband lost his copy so I haven’t finished it till now.

A story about this — 6 years ago


I’ve implemented GTD into my own personal life.

Great book! Great system. The best one I’ve come across yet!

I really love having all of my To Do’s organized by context (at computer, indoors@home, outdoors@home, errands etc.)

I can choose whatever I feel like at the time I’m in that context. I can also choose based on priority. David doesn’t and I still do but it’s made my life much simpler.

To Do lists will never go away or be empty but this really helps you get stuff out of your head and onto that list so you stop worrying or feeling guilty about it all of the time.

Why I recommend this — 7 years ago


Great book! Better than I was expecting.

It creates a framework within which you can capture all of your responsibilities and plans and organise them efficiently. I was a little dismayed at times because some aspects were glossed over pretty quickly but David Allen writes quite generally to allow you to incorporate your own ideas and methods into the overall framework.

The unexpected benefit of using this system is how great it makes you feel to have things all written down or stored in some fashion and easily accessible. It doesn’t give you the energy to do everything you have to do, but it shows you how to use the energy you do have to its best advantage.

Why it's taking me forever to finish consuming this — 7 years ago

I can’t quite seem to find the time to get around to reading this.

Why I want to consume this — 7 years ago

Programmers everywhere are talking about the Getting Things Done book.

When you are a computer programmer, you have to constantly produce, virtually always have deadlines, and often have more than one thing competing for your attention.

You have:

  1. your current project(s)
  2. occasional rush jobs
  3. constant need to find, study, learn, and practice with: new software/class libraries, new object-oriented frameworks, new programming languages, new file and document formats

I am just like other programmers and everyone else. I want to learn about Getting Things Done too!

Life Changing — 7 years ago


This was an excellent book. I just finished it and have begun to turn things around. It seems like a lot of work but I need to focus on my next actions and stay with it. It is a relief to get all the “stuff” out of my head.

A story about this — 8 years ago


GTD Works — 8 years ago

You have to work at getting things done but David Allen sets down some railroad tracks to help you along the process. At the end of the day, it’s a process that gets results.

A story about this — 8 years ago


I’ve consumed this in audiobook format, but I’m reconsuming it in dead tree format so I can get everything out of it.

Still Need to, y'know, actually implement it all — 8 years ago


I just finished reading the book and I think I’m ready to get the system up and running, I hesitated on going ahead and putting everything in order because I’m moving back to college next week, but I know how I’m going to get it all working once I get there.

Trying to get back on the bandwagon — 8 years ago

For a while I was really doing well with my GTD process. However, the last few weeks have found me slipping back into chaos.

I’ve pulled this book back off the shelf in an attempt to get it back going.

Makes Sense — 8 years ago


This book simply makes sense. Many people who read it probably already use some of the techniques/tricks it describes, but it nevertheless has much to offer in giving you a methodology and process to tackle all the stuff you have to do.

worked for me — 8 years ago


Self-help books usually turn me off but this one really improved helped me keep track of things.

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