"Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity"
by David Allen
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 22nd February 2010I'd dipped into productivity guru David Allen's book a few times since I bought a couple of years ago but had been put off on those occasions by the various flow diagrams and by the sense that ultimately "Getting Things Done" was about implementing some complicated system that I'd probably give up on after a week. I suppose it just looked like a lot of work. Having read the book cover to cover I have to say I was still not entirely convinced - there certainly seemed to be a lot of organising to keep up with (such as having multiple to-do lists based on whether you're "at phone", "at computer", "at the shops" and so on).
But in a way those things could be considered "implementation details", and underneath there are some simple but potentially powerful core ideas. Basically Allen's key assertion is that your brain is very bad at remembering all the things that you want or need to do, and it's also very bad at reminding you about them at the appropriate time. The aim of "Getting Things Done" is to free you from "thinking of stuff" (the remembering part) so that you can be "thinking about stuff" (the doing part), and this is achieved by collecting together absolutely everything that you need to do - no matter how small or big - and then putting it into a system that you absolutely trust to remind you of those things at the appropriate time.
It's simple, but not necessary easy - so to help Allen introduces some other suporting ideas in addition to the "collection habit" (the most useful one for me so far is the "two minute rule": if something can be done in two minutes or less then just do it then and there). So I think that there are some valuable things in here that can be used without buying into the whole concept right away. And I'm interested enough to follow one of the book's final suggestions - I've put a reminder in my calendar (another one of Allen's useful habits) to come back to the book again in 3 months time.