Sunday, December 28, 2008

Getting Things Done The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen

Getting Things Done The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen.

This book is about how to be more organized. It describes how to use organization to become more productive towards reaching your goals. The methods are focused on a combination of workflows, peak productivity, and translating your goals into immediate actions.

I have very mixed reactions to this book. I rather like the idea of a to do list being a list of actions instead of goals. This makes sense for me. I believe in the principle of actions leading towards finishing goals. This is very similar to the idea of MBO (Management by Objectives).

One of the things I don't like is the work flow charts he uses to show how to accomplish goals. They seem much too complicated in my eyes. They look like something a consultant might cook up to get extra billable hours.

I also didn't like the idea of creating daily folders 1-31, and monthly folders, January-December. It seemed like this would work if you had an executive assistant to help you, but not if you were on your own. They system is called a tickler file system.

I also don't like the long process he uses before you decide to act: 1. Ask why you are doing this. 2. Look at the principles behind the goal. 3. Envision a clear outcome. 4. Brainstorm about the outcome. 5. Organize your brainstorming. 6. Perform the action. It is much too long in my opinion.

He claims that if you process all your stuff until you can do things one at a time, you will enter a zen like state of peak performance. This seems a little unreal to me. There is nothing about the meditative practices to do this. To do this you must go through absolutely everything you are doing and write it down.

Parts of his organizational ideas make sense. Keep the systems you need to organize your office simple and straightforward, use manila folders, staplers, a labeling machine, paperclips, a calendar, in box trays, pens, and a wastebasket. Have a few filing cabinets and a clear workspace. Do this for both your home and your business. It is imperative to be organized in both places.

Another idea that makes sense is to always keep a noteboook and pen with you so you can write down ideas that come to you when you least expect them. I have started carrying a small notebook and pen with me.

I also like the way he envisions things. What is immediately in front of you is on a horizontal plane, what is to be done in the future is on a vertical plane going higher and higher like an airplane. In the airplane idea, you start on the runway with immediate goals then rise into the air finally reaching life goals.

It reminds me that I have to focus a little more on future goals; learning microsoft office products, attending conferences, and longer career goals. I am going to pay my Westchester Library Association dues because the book reminded me about it. Because the airplane starts on the

He reminds us that we should keep a file for future ideas in our drawers, things which we cannot do immediately. Also a file for important documents that you might need to reference in the future.

This book is such a mix of good and bad ideas that I think you will probably learn a few things as well ask yourself why is he suggesting that? David Allen's suggestions can be a real puzzler sometimes. I think it could have been simplified and clarified more in a few parts.

The writing is typical of most business writing. I would call it simple and practical, but not that entertaining. The quotes in the margins are interesting-- "We must strive to reach that simplicity that lies beyond sophistication."-- John Gardner. There was an index in the back of the book, but no bibliography or notes.

Getting Things Done is a bestseller on the New York Times Bestseller business list.

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