Inner Space

Getting Things Done

Stress-free productivity

Getting Things Done is a thoroughly practical method of handling the little things that over time comprise the big things in life. I’ve been chronically disorganized as long as I can remember. Within a month of following Allen’s advice – actually, within a few weeks – I was making better use of my day, getting far more done, and feeling happier and less anxious.

Allen’s not-so-hidden agenda in getting people organized is not simply to turn us into highly efficient bureaucrats. With a clearer mind, we can focus on our meaningful, long-term goals in a more creative way. I’m not sure if I’ve achieved Allen’s favorite state of “mind like water,” but I’m feeling a lot more fluid nowadays. This book is full of tricks to help you get things done, but it also offers an underlying challenge: Just what is it that you want to do?

— Marcel Levy

This is the third recommendation I’ve received for this book. It’s pretty good. On the blogs there is a lot of chatter about Allen’s system and its effectiveness for nerdlike people. I would have posted a review of the book earlier if I had actually practiced what it preached.

— KK

Here’s the gist of GTD in a single image. I have kept a printed copy of this for years and find it useful.

— MF

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
David Allen
2001, 267 pages

Sample excerpts:

Why Things Are On Your Mind
Most often, the reason something is “on your mind” is that you want it to be different than it currently is, and yet:

* you haven’t clarified exactly what the intended outcome is;
* you haven’t decided what the very next physical action step is; and/or
* you haven’t put reminders of the outcome and the action required in a system you trust


Things rarely get stuck because of lack of time. They get stuck because the doing of them has not been defined.


Give yourself permission to capture and express any idea, and then later on figure out how it fits in and what to do with it. If nothing else (and there is plenty of “else”), this practice adds to your efficiency – when you have the idea, you grab it, which means you won’t have to go “have the idea” again.


In mind-mapping, the core idea is presented in the center, with associated ideas growing out in a somewhat free-form fashion around it.


The big problem is that your mind keeps reminding you of things when you can’t do anything about them. It has no sense of past or future.


Most people don’t have a really complete system, and they get no real payoff from reviewing things for just that reason; their overview isn’t total. They still have a vague sense that something may be missing. That’s why the rewards to be gained from implementing this whole process are at least geometric: the more complete the system is, the more you’ll trust it. And the more you trust it, the more complete you’ll be motivated to keep it. The Weekly Review is a master key to maintaining that standard.


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