Book Review: Getting Things Done

The Cover to the GTD Audio Book
The Cover to the GTD Audio Book

I’ve been a fan of business consultant and author David Allen for several years now.  In 2004, I purchased his world-wide best selling book “Getting Things Done” and read it over a few days.  In a few short weeks, I was busy getting my “mind like water” (a reference in the book for peace!) and putting my tasks into well organized lists/

Over the years, I’ve experimented with a number of ideas, tricks, and tips in an effort to tweak things but ultimately, Allen’s methods are the ones that work best for me because they begin with the end in mind.  Recently, I decided to re-read GTD via audio book (hence the audio book cover at right) and reviewed my old notes from five years ago and realized I needed to tighten up some areas of my overall planning.  The author recommends this because we tend to forget little things along the way.

The essence of Allen’s system (for those who’ve yet to read the book) consists of a workflow chart that forces you to take action on each and every item that is tugging for your attention.  To be brief, Allen insists you do the following.

  • Collect
  • Process
  • Organize
  • Execute

There’s obviously more to consider but for the most basic setup, this really is it.  You take the time to record items coming at you for action, process them into various lists depending on their context, and then organize your day around executing those tasks that need to be completed.  The result is a “mind like water” as you are proactive in your planning.  This takes away the stress of being reactive every time something comes your way.  Your system will allow you to move on tasks that otherwise might get lost if you only keep them in your head.

There’s so much to discuss here but it’s best for your to read it yourself.  Allen really breaks down not only the day-to-day stuff that needs done but also gives you the opportunity to spend some time on long range goals which sometimes get put on the back burner of our lives.  Planning long range is what brought me back to college for a graduate degree and also to look 3-5 years out for our church building that we now occupy.  The process DOES work.  But it only works if you put in the effort.  If you read the book and do nothing other than simple to-do lists, you will not benefit much.  That’s why when people ask me about the book, I recommend you read the book first either as an ebook or paperback but the text has many diagrams and charts in it designed to ease you into the process.  The audio book is valuable but for me, it made sense listening to it with a knowledge of the system as it reminded me of some areas I was lacking in.  If you simply cannot read the actual text of the book, then do allow yourself the audio book.  It’s an abridged version and runs about 2:48 long  (3 cd’s).

On Monday, I’ll share with you a Web 2.0 app I’ve been experimenting with over the past few weeks to manage my lists and various areas of focus.  Have a great weekend!

Book Review: Getting Things Done

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