Book: Getting Things Done by David Allen

If you’re struggling with task management – keeping an overview, choosing what to do next, and finishing enough stuff – then Getting Things Done by David Allen is probably the first book to go to.

book getting things done

The book Getting Things Done by David Allen is a classic, and I find it a must-read if you are looking for ways to improve your productivity. The strength of the book is that it offers a complete system to approach to task planning.

The ultimate credo of the book is that you have to get stuff you need to remember (i.e., your todo list) out of your head into a “trusted system”. What Allen means by this is that you need to follow your system so consistently that you are never afraid that it won’t work. This frees up your head to be 100% on the task you decide to do at any given time. And if you follow the book’s advice, you can set up such a system. Warning: it can feel very anal, especially at first. But: if you do follow it, it’s really great.

5 steps to peace of mind…

Allen breaks up task planning into 5 steps:

  • capture anything that comes to mind that needs to be done, be it small or huge
  • clarify what you want to do with every single item you captured and identifying the next concrete action you need to do to move towards getting this thing done
  • organize by putting stuff where it belongs (and he has a very specific set of lists and places)
  • reflect, that is, review your lists, on a regular basis so that you always know what’s going on in your life
  • engage by choosing, from your lists, what to do right now.

There’s a lot more to each step, and Allen also goes into levels of planning, from how to organize today to identifying what you want to be or do with your life.

There’s a 2015 updated version of the book. If you believe what people are posting on the net, then it doesn’t really matter which version you read.

If you’ve read Getting Things Done, I’m curious about your thoughts. Have you implemented the system? What works? What doesn’t?

Related resources

David Allen has made a company out of his system, and they’re selling coaching and all kinds of related stuff.

There are many apps that are either designed to use GTD, or can be set up for GTD.

One such app for real enthusiasts (or nerds?) is Omnifocus (Mac/iOS).

Another one I really like is 2Do (Mac/iOS/Android).

David Allen explains his ideas quite well in several podcasts, for example in two episodes of Beyond the Todo List (one: www/iTunes; two: www/iTunes), and in an episode of [EntreLeadership][itunes-entre] ([www][web-entre-episode]/iTunes).

In the Evernote series of my hands-on section, I’ve described how you can set up Evernote for a pretty nifty GTD implementation.


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