Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting Things Done, David Allen

"A masterpiece for personal productivity in the modern working environment."

Getting Things Done has become a best seller and is today the most important reference in the "getting things done" topic. This is not by chance!
The book starts by saying that nowadays, we have more and more demands and insufficient resources to fulfill them. The goal is thus to capture anything you consider unfinished out of your mind in a trusted system. Then, the idea is to first define the problem, the success, and the next action toward success. Finally, you do and follow up.

The goal is not to manage your “stuff”, but to manage your actions needed to bring your “stuff” to success:
  1.  Collect – In the system out of the head; Few collection buckets; Empty buckets regularly.
  2.  Process – Actionable?
No, then set it  as trash, maybe later, or potentially useful;
Yes, then define action, do if < 2min, delegate, or defer & track.
  3.  Organize – Actions on calendar, next action by context (calls, computer, office, etc.), and waiting for.
  4.  Review – Weekly gather & process new “stuff”, review calendar, update action lists.
  5.  Do – Choose by context (where am I?), time available, energy available, priority.

Huge, really!
There are two key points in Allen's approach that are highly powerful:
  • Get “stuff” out of your head in a trusted system.
  • Think and act in term of actions toward success not in term of problems.
The book gives all the necessary material to do that, and it works. Once you have no stuff in your head, and you know that with your system you can correctly handle it, your life is much easier. Additionally, the concept of action thinking/acting is extremely powerfull to face problems in a positive and simple way.
This has played an important role in my working life when my company has moved from the "few friends" start-up phase to the "leader & team" structure. Before, I was still involved in some development, and I had quite long slots to perform relatively few different tasks. As leader of a small team, I had to perform more and more small tasks, and there David's model has been very helpful.

  • rating Amazon - 4.4/5.0 (641 reviews)
  • my rating - 4.5/5.0
  • fun factor - 4.0/5.0
  • simplicity - 4.0/5.0
  • impact - 5.0/5.0