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Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity [Paperback]

David Allen
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 Jan 2002
Is your workload overwhelming? Does it just keep mounting up while your stress levels reach fever pitch? In Getting Things Done David Allen teaches you how to keep a clear head, relax and organise your thoughts while implementing the methods that he has introduced at organisations like Microsoft, Lockheed and the US Department of Justice: Learn the 'do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it' principle to empty your in-tray. Handle e-mail, paperwork and unexpected demands in a system of self-management. Plan and progress projects. Reasses goals and stay focused. Apply the two minute rule when deciding what to do now and what to defer. Overcome feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed. With clear and specific methods and advice, David Allen's tried and trusted formula for business efficiency could transform the way you operate and your experience of work.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Piatkus (24 Jan 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749922648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749922641
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

With first-chapter allusions to martial arts, "flow", "mind like water", and other concepts borrowed from the East (and usually mangled), you'd almost think this self-helper from David Allen should have been called Zen and the Art of Schedule Maintenance.

Not quite. Yes, Getting Things Done offers a complete system for downloading all those free-floating gotta-dos clogging your brain into a sophisticated framework of files and action lists--all purportedly to free your mind to focus on whatever you're working on. However, it still operates from the decidedly Western notion that if we could just get really, really organised, we could turn ourselves into 24/7 productivity machines. (To wit, Allen, whom the New Economy bible Fast Company has dubbed "the personal productivity guru", suggests that instead of meditating on crouching tigers and hidden dragons while you wait for a plane, you should unsheathe that high-tech sabre known as the mobile phone and attack that list of calls you need to return.)

As whole-life-organising systems go, Allen's is pretty good, even fun and therapeutic. It starts with the exhortation to take every unaccounted-for scrap of paper in your workstation that you can't junk. The next step is to write down every unaccounted-for gotta-do cramming your head onto its own scrap of paper. Finally, throw the whole stew into a giant "in-basket".

That's where the processing and prioritising begin; in Allen's system, it get a little convoluted at times, rife as it is with fancy terms, subterms, and sub-subterms for even the simplest concepts. Thank goodness the spine of his system is captured on a straightforward, one-page flowchart that you can pin over your desk and repeatedly consult without having to refer back to the book. That alone is worth the purchase price. Also of value is Allen's ingenious Two-Minute Rule: if there's anything you absolutely must do that you can do right now in two minutes or less, then do it now, thus freeing up your time and mind tenfold over the long term. It's common sense advice so obvious that most of us completely overlook it, much to our detriment. Allen excels at dispensing such wisdom in this useful, if somewhat belaboured, self-improver aimed at everyone from CEOs to football mums (who, we all know, are more organised than most CEOs to start with). --Timothy Murphy --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Productivity guru David Allen shows how to organise a busy life, overcome bad habits and still be able to function calmly and effectively (WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY)

With first-chapter allusions to martial arts, "flow", "mind like water", and other concepts borrowed from the East (and usually mangled), you'd almost think this self-helper from David Allen should have been called Zen and the Art of Schedule Maintenance (As whole-life-organising systems go, Allen's is pretty good, even fun and therapeutic. It starts with the exhortation to take every unaccounted-for scrap of paper in your workstation that you can't junk. The next step is to write down every unaccounted-fo)

That's where the processing and prioritising begin; in Allen's system, it get a little convoluted at times, rife as it is with fancy terms, subterms, and sub-subterms for even the simplest concepts. Thank goodness the spine of his system is captured on a straightforward, one-page flowchart that you can pin over your desk and repeatedly consult without having to refer back to the book. That alone is worth the purchase price. Also of value is Allen's ingenious Two-Minute Rule: if there's anything you absolutely must do that you can do right now in two minutes or less, then do it now, thus freeing up your time and mind tenfold over the long term. It's common sense advice so obvious that most of us completely overlook it, much to our detriment. Allen excels at dispensing such wisdom in this useful, if somewhat belaboured, self-improver aimed at everyone from CEOs to football mums (who, we all know, are more organised than most CEOs to start with). (Timothy Murphy , AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas, shame about the delivery 17 April 2012
Format:Paperback
The shame about this book is that there is probably a workable system in there, if only you could wade through the far too many pages to find it.
He spends hours of your precious reading time "setting up the sell", telling you how wonderful you will feel once you have read it, all of which is pretty unnecessary since you have already bought the book (I still went ahead and bought it after reading a Kindle sample, hoping that he would soon get to the point...)
He does eventually get to the point (I think I skipped to 38% of the way in from what I remember before I found some practical tips) but he doesn't summarise what he has told you at the end of each chapter nor at the end of the book, so you are left with a hazy feeling that you might improve your life if you create lots of lists but you can't quite remember what all the lists are for and why it is important to separate them.
Net result: I feel I have to read the so**ing thing again just to implement his system. Better put that on my, err, in list? action list? tickler list? read/review list? Please give us a list of our lists!
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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Do you ever feel stressed because you have so many different things you need/want to do? Do you forget appointments or waste time looking in piles of paper for that one important note that you made? If you like me are disorganized and never seem on top of things this is the book for you. I love reading self improvement books. In fact I get a lot of stick from my husband about my reading habits along the lines of 'Why don't you stop reading books about improving your life and start living.' 'Getting Things Done' is the first such book to get me into action mode and start working on all those projects I've put off for so long. No longer do I feel my life is out of control; no longer do I feel overwhelmed by all the 'stuff' I've taken on board.

If you want to get organized but don't know where to start Dave Allen's book will give you the tools to 'Get Things Done.' The book recommends a set of principles, habits and a filing system which encompasses everything that you want to do from the mundane 'I must get new tyres for the car' to the important major project at work. If you have a hectic lifestyle this system will remind you that your library books need renewing or that the car is due for its MOT as well as that you need to write the first draft of a report for work or you want to email a friend to ask if they would like to go to a concert. You can concentrate on making that phone call or writing that report without worrying about all those other things that you need/want to get done. His system even finds room for long term 'dreams' which are not possible at the moment such as learning a second language, writing a book or travelling to China.
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201 of 212 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable 14 May 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a life-changing book. I was drowning in paper, felt constantly anxious about things I wasn't getting done, was missing deadlines, finding it hard to keep on top of my various commitments and projects. I thought I was just a disorganized person; this book has changed everything for me. I now have a clear idea of my commitments, an easy-access and reliable filing system, a simple way of capturing all my necessary actions, an empty inbox, and freer weekends. I should add that I have always been very cynical about these kinds of books and in fact I still am: I have looked at several other books on 'personal organization' and find them (a) ludicrous, pumped-up, pop-psychology books full of jargon and power phrases but signifying nothing, or (b) obsessed with making you a more productive little unit at work. This book is about making you a happier person - and makes it clear that the result of his simple techniques might be that you actually do less, by realising how your schedule works and refusing to take too much on. I can't recommend it enough.
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96 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flow from Angst to Action . . . and Relax! 14 May 2004
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This book is for all those who are overwhelmed with too many things to do, too little time to do them, and a general sense of unease that something important is being missed.
Everyone has experienced times when everything seemed effortless, and progress limitless. David Allen has captured ways for you to achieve that wonderful state of mind and consciousness more often.
His key concept is that every task, promise, or assignment has a place and a time. With everything in its proper place and time, you feel in control and replace the time spent on vague worrying with effective, timely action. As a result, the accomplishments grow while the pressure to accomplish decreases. As a result, the book contains many insights into "how to have more energy, be more relaxed, and get a lot more accomplished with much less effort."
The key psychological insight of this book is that rapid progress occurs when you take large, unformed tasks, and break them down and organize them into smaller, sequential steps for exactly what to do and when. The book provides lots of guidance and examples for how to do this.
The book is organized into three sections. The first gives you an overview of the whole process for how to get more done in a relaxed way. The second spells out the details of how to implement that process, in a way that a personal coach might use. The third provides subtle insights that help you appreciate the benefits that follow from using the process. Like all good coaches, Mr. Allen understands that appreciating a subject from several perspectives and getting lots of practice with it are critical steps in learning.
The process advocated by this book is described with lots of systems flow charts that will appeal to all of the engineers and left-brained people.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars would recomend
A must read book! it does changes your life!
Published 12 days ago by Aa
5.0 out of 5 stars present
Bought for a present. Was specifically asked to buy it as a present so guessing it was known already as being good
Published 1 month ago by Ms. Pauline Bell
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid this book and get things done with the time saved.
I read this and Smart Thinking by Art Markman within a few days of each other and both left me with the exact same conclusion - they both provide nothing more that what is already... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lain
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Brilliant system. Highly effective. Could be a bit less vague on implementation, but gives the fundamental approach clearly. What's next?!
Published 2 months ago by Badgerwithagun
3.0 out of 5 stars A great book so far.
A great idea for a book, I haven't finished it yet...but I am sure it will help me if I ever do.
Published 2 months ago by Stephen Swain
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth a read
I do really like this book but I get a bit lost sometimes. I prefer an easy reading book like the one I have recently read, "Just A Girl Who Got It All" by Tanya Bardo. Read more
Published 2 months ago by AA0409
4.0 out of 5 stars great help, well written - a must read if you are overwhelmed by stuff
This was a really useful guide for getting organised when faced with myriad inputs which todo lists don't adequately manage. Read more
Published 3 months ago by ColinHudson10
3.0 out of 5 stars Read the 3 star reviews.
There are many positive reviews of this book but I'm struggling to understand why. I'd recommend any one thinking of purchasing this book to read the 3 star reviews as they seem to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Stanley Kutter
4.0 out of 5 stars Really useful suggestions
This book is not a quick fix. The methods suggested can be tailored to your own needs, but it takes some commitment, as it is a plan for organising every aspect of your life on a... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ooshka
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible
Truly awful. I cannot believe I have paid money for this book. Boring repetitive rambling about lists, full of grating & insignificant quotations, a complete waste of time. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Isaac William Gibson
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