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Book Review: Getting Things Done

Posted on April 24, 2007

Getting Things DoneSimply put, this book is great or at least the info in it is. As Rick put it the book could have probably been boiled down into ten or twenty pages from the 250 that it is but it did put forth a number of very useful tips on how to better manage workflow.

After reading the book and implementing some of the ideas in it I came away with three key takeaways that can change your life in five minutes:

1. Always ask “What is the Next Action?” when leaving a meeting or thinking about a project.

This is the next physical action you (or someone else) need to take to move something forward (i.e. “get tires for the car” does not work whereas “call the tire shop to make an appointment” does).

2. Write everything down either via a digital mechanism or on paper.

Either way you need to make sure the system you use to capture everything is trusted otherwise your mind will not let go of the item. The idea here is to clear your mind which will leave you with less anxiety and more creativity. (Since you may not have been doing this already the initial time it takes to get everything out of your head and “onto paper” could take more than five minutes - it could even take a whole day or two - but it is necessary to get the most benefit out of the system.)

3. Process items as they come at you (or in a batch at regular intervals).

If they will take less than two minutes do them right away (most of your tasks will fall into this category). If they will take more than two minutes you can then either figure out the next action, place them on a “someday/maybe” list or into a place for ideas that may warrant projects in the future (I call my ideas list the “incubator”), add them to your calendar to do on a certain date or delegate them to someone else (and notate that on a “waiting on” list).

I can attest to the fact that I have felt much more free and creative after implementing some of these workflow management practices. That said, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to hack their life a bit. There is something in it for everyone and I believe that even if you only use one of the things David Allen suggests it will change your life for the better. Just to get you started the next action that you should take after reading this post is: Buy/order Getting Things Done by David Allen.

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2 Comments so far
  1. […] Eric John Olson, Olson’s Observations (04/07) Review […]

  2. willie April 30, 2007 5:00 pm

    This book sounds awesome! Too bad it costs so much, but it sounds like it’s worth the price. I was looking for books to read and thanks to finding your blog i’ve found one :)