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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity Paperback – Dec 31 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (Dec 31 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142000280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142000281
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

With first-chapter allusions to martial arts, "flow", "mind like water", and other concepts borrowed from the East (and usually mangled), you'd almost think this self-helper from David Allen should have been called Zen and the Art of Schedule Maintenance.

Not quite. Yes, Getting Things Done offers a complete system for downloading all those free-floating gotta-dos clogging your brain into a sophisticated framework of files and action lists--all purportedly to free your mind to focus on whatever you're working on. However, it still operates from the decidedly Western notion that if we could just get really, really organised, we could turn ourselves into 24/7 productivity machines. (To wit, Allen, whom the New Economy bible Fast Company has dubbed "the personal productivity guru", suggests that instead of meditating on crouching tigers and hidden dragons while you wait for a plane, you should unsheathe that high-tech sabre known as the mobile phone and attack that list of calls you need to return.)

As whole-life-organising systems go, Allen's is pretty good, even fun and therapeutic. It starts with the exhortation to take every unaccounted-for scrap of paper in your workstation that you can't junk. The next step is to write down every unaccounted-for gotta-do cramming your head onto its own scrap of paper. Finally, throw the whole stew into a giant "in-basket".

That's where the processing and prioritising begin; in Allen's system, it get a little convoluted at times, rife as it is with fancy terms, subterms, and sub-subterms for even the simplest concepts. Thank goodness the spine of his system is captured on a straightforward, one-page flowchart that you can pin over your desk and repeatedly consult without having to refer back to the book. That alone is worth the purchase price. Also of value is Allen's ingenious Two-Minute Rule: if there's anything you absolutely must do that you can do right now in two minutes or less, then do it now, thus freeing up your time and mind tenfold over the long term. It's common sense advice so obvious that most of us completely overlook it, much to our detriment. Allen excels at dispensing such wisdom in this useful, if somewhat belaboured, self-improver aimed at everyone from CEOs to football mums (who, we all know, are more organised than most CEOs to start with). --Timothy Murphy --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Allen, a management consultant and executive coach, provides insights into attaining maximum efficiency and at the same time relaxing whenever one needs or wants to. Readers learn that there is no single means for perfecting organizational efficiency or productivity; rather, the author offers tools to focus energies strategically and tactically without letting anything fall through the cracks. He provides tips, techniques, and tricks for implementation of his workflow management plan, which has two basic components: capture all the things that need to get done into a workable, dependable system; and discipline oneself to make front-end decisions with an action plan for all inputs into that system. In short, do it (quickly), delegate it (appropriately), or defer it. While an infomercial for the author's consulting practice, this road map for organizational efficiency may help many who have too much to do in too little time, both professionally and in their personal lives. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It's possible for a person to have an overwhelming number of things to do and still function productively with a clear head and a positive sense of relaxed control. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By D. Marchant on Feb. 27 2005
Format: Paperback
David Allen is considered to be one the top five Management consultants in North America according to a Forbes article. I now understand why.
The basic concepts in his book are simple enough and are represented by a flow chart, but there are so many other golden nuggets of "best practice" information within this book that you have to study it to get them all. I've read the book and listened to his second (audio) book "Ready for anything" four times in a row just to reinforce the great points within this book.
The result of implimenting his structure of workflow has suprisingly allowed me to act with more freedom and creativity in my job and a reduction in stress. I can even find stuff easily since setting up my folders and buying a label making machine (his recommendation).
He's really on to something big with his "next action" thinking approach (chapter 11) and his two-minute rule.
One of the best books I've read in the last three years.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By K. Sampanthar on Jan. 19 2004
Format: Paperback
The Summary
Bottom line, read this book! Act on this book, its not as daunting as it sounds. Spending 2 days setting up this system could prove the most valuable thing you do! Make a resolution to get things done! It really is worth following the advice, even the small things which seem irrelevant i.e. buying an automatic labeler; it really does help when you want to file something! If you are a procrastinator you NEED to read this book, it will explain to why you have had so much stress in your life. Also for all those people out there who consider themselves creative and hence feel that time management and organizational system aren't for them because they fear it will stifle their creativity, well read this book and try it!! I really feel more creative since I got all this unimportant stuff out of mind!!
The Why
OK All procrastinators out there, this book really works! Let me tell you a little about myself and then you might understand why this book has been so important to me. I am a world class procrastinator, or should I say was! I had every excuse in the book for why I felt time management systems, to do lists, organization methods just don't work. I am a creative guy and I always felt that getting organized would some how decrease my creative thoughts and ideas. Some of my best ideas came from the mess of papers and books around my study and I thought if I got organized that this would somehow stifle my creativity. The other aspect that always held me back was I didn't want to waste lots of time implementing a system and then just keep maintaining the system and not have time to do the "real" work. Even though I have all these excuses, I knew deep down they were just excuses. I could not work out why I had such a barrier to these systems.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gregory K. Miskin on May 25 2004
Format: Paperback
Being raised by an ADD father and a depressed mother left my siblings and I without a lot of social skills, not the least of which relate to productivity. Years ago one of my sisters asked me what I wanted out of life. My answer was simple: to be able to do something just because I decide to do it.
For decades I have studied everything I could get my hands on regarding self-improvement. Silva Mind Control, Insight, Maxwell Smaltz, NLP, countless books, tapes, seminars. Most of these left me thinking, "Well, if I could get myself to do those things, I wouldn't need your stupid book/tape/seminar."
I spoke frequently with my siblings about this, noting to them that successful people do things and think about things differently than unsuccessful people but I couldn't put my finger on exactly what that difference was.
NLP has been a big boost but nothing has matched the power of GTD to transform my life. This is the skill that sets people apart. It builds confidence, it clears the mind, it clears the backlog of projects that have piled up over the years.
For the first few weeks implementing this system I was actually on a emotional high. It was so exciting to have a simple, workable system that truly does what it claims to do. My wife and I have been working this system for a couple of months and have literally transformed ourselves using it.
My siblings are using it to great advantage also and I'm starting to share it at work. I am so grateful for this book and the opportunities it has opened up for a whole generation of under-achievers in my family. Words cannot adequately express my appreciation.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Test on June 29 2003
Format: Paperback
Strengths: How to manage the never-ending flow of taskings and redirected taskings for those who work in unorganized cultures. Fairly simple. Can be implemented without fancy tools.
Weaknesses: Still essentially prioritizing emergencies. You may believe that if your in-box is empty you were effective today.
To balance the weaknesses, read Steven Covey's "7-Habits of Highly Effective People", and the book on Habit 3, "First Things First". The older, pre-Franklin-Covey merger book is better than the current offering.
The weakness of the Allen book is that it does not force you to think about your roles and goals, leaving you in the trap of the urgent, being unconsciously unbalanced and never asking the question: How can I prevent these issues, how can I keep the main thing the main thing, and what about the long-term?
The Covey offerings are a little weak (only a little) in handling the myriad and changing tasks that disorganized managers and organizations throw at you. Covey assumes you have a fair about of autonomy in your work life, that you are responsible for results, not for performing tasks.
Bottom line: Read (in this order): "7-Habits", "First Things First", and then Allen. In a hurry? Read First Things First, then the others in the order indicated.
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