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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2005
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2004
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2004
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. I have looked at and half heartedly tried many different systems, Franklin Covey, Time Manager, I have many different organizers and PDA's that I just don't use. I didn't realize it until I read this book, but a lot of my fear stemmed from that I always felt that there was so much that these systems wouldn't catch and I would lose ideas. Most systems don't seem to cope well with unstructured ideas, thoughts, magazine articles etc... And they don't seem to mesh electronic information and paper based information. I wasn't interested in just another system that managed my schedule and to do lists, I needed something that would cope with the way that I worked and wouldn't stifle my creativity! Getting Things Done! Managed to develop a system that incorporated everything and I felt that things weren't getting lost! Wow! It feels good!
The How
I committed to read it and start taking action on January 1st (like all good procrastinators, New Years resolutions are plentiful and always ambitious. We all have good intentions!). Well this is a resolution that I kept. I first worked through my home office and piled up everything that needed to be looked at into the "In Basket" (or pile(s) as it turned out). It took half the floor space in my study. I had purchased the labeling system; I had files, file drawers, staplers, paper clips etc... I had it all together, and I started processing. I finally had all my work papers processed. I then started in on my work email; I had a backlog going back to Nov 2002. By the time I had finished I had my Inbox down to zero!! It took 14 hours! I had purchased the Outlook Add-on that helped me setup my Outlook Folders and it even gives you an easy toolbar to process all new email. My next task was processing all Non-work stuff, which included all creative projects. This took another 8 hours over 2 days, but I finally got it processed, filed away and task lists setup! I have only been back at work for a week, but I have kept processing all incoming messages and with a little work I have kept my email inbox empty and I have all the important tasks and projects setup. This is a major accomplishment! It really has freed my mind to concentrate on creative projects, be able to tackle my work better. My worst fear of being organized has not been realized, actually the direct opposite, I have had more creative ideas since I started than I had before! My mind is clear and free to roam! It feels amazing to know everything you are supposed to be doing (and also to know everything you don't need to be doing), and it's amazing to know that something is captured and even if I don't do this now, I have an action to do it; this means my mind doesn't feel shackled.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2003
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2007
I used to be all over the place. My desk was a mess, papers piling upon books piling upon stacks of scribbled notes. My desktop PC had icons covering the whole screen with documents and using the search feature in Windows to find a document was the only way I could find anything.

Then I discovered GTD. Within two weeks of applying the system, my life has completely transformed. Result? I was able to literally increase my productivity in my personal life and career by at least 5 fold.

I am not a naturally very organized person so this was a godsend. Before this I tried Franklin Covey, Brian Tracy and Anthonny Robbins Time Management stuff and none of it has worked for me.

This is the only system that has worked for me consistently, that fits the natural process of organizing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2006
Does David Allen's system really differ from other "time management" systems? I would say an unqualified yes based on my experience with the GTD process so far. In the one week since the book's been out I have made more progress with regard to collecting my stuff than previous attempts I have made in the past 6 years. I have actually started a filing system. More importantly, I am starting to deal with the "stuff" in my life faster and more efficiently. Just learning how to deal with "stuff" is a pretty big deal to me. My problem is that I have obsessive compulsive disorder, and it shows up in my life as compulsive hoarding. Couple the hoarding with attention deficit disorder and you have the ingredients for potentially disastrous living. In short, I have a damn difficult time staying on top of things and tend to struggle at times. David's method offers a practical yet elegant solution to staying on top of things. It starts with collecting the stuff, or as David calls it the "incomplete" and getting them out of your head into an external system that can be trusted. Then you process what's collected and then you organize it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2001
Too many books on getting organized tend to be, well, unorganized. Or worse, impractical. They take digressions through academic theories or offer advice which simply won't work in the real world.
Not so with David Allen's "Getting Things Done." He offers clear, concise insights on action-oriented steps anyone can implement to make their worklife more productive and stress free. (He recommends the same approach for dealing with your personal life, and while they may work in this context, I'm not sure how many folks really want to run my family like a business).
Yes, a lot of Allen's advice is simple common sense and he tends to offer lists which simply added pages instead of help. Nonetheless, he presents obvious insights in useful context by showing how they've worked with his clients and it's simple to skip the unnecessary lists. The key is (and this is why I awarded five stars instead of four) Allen's advice is aimed at folks who live in the real world. You can actually implement what he talks about and see results.
While the book may not change your life, it will certainly help you keep it organized and focused. "Getting Things Done" is an ideal gift for the colleague who is more of a "big picture"-type than a detail person.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2004
I'm early in the book, yet it's easy to see it will be at least 4 stars. I must warn readers, however, that this is a poor quality printing. The pages are thin and the print contrast is poor. I'm surprised Penguin's standards have slipped this low. The text deserves a better vehicle.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2015
I have read the original of this book a few times. I can tell you that the added material and re-writes in this edition absolutely do make it worthwhile y
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2015
A series of life adjustments to turn you into a getting things done machine. I really liked some of the small adjustments that were recommended like ensuring every item has a next action or the two minute rule. Some of the examples chosen rubbed me the wrong way, like checking your email while you are "watching" your children. It would be really interesting to see a version for developers.
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