I have discussed Getting Things Done, or “GTD” here for a long time, but I have never actually read the famous book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. I recently decided to read it (or actually listen to it), and I’m glad I did.
While I have embraced principles from GTD before, like having an empty inbox, but reading the book really makes everything come together and make sense. Even though many online resources talk about the GTD framework and process, they mostly touch on specific areas, and not the whole perspective. This book ties everything together to bring some sense into the hundreds of GTD tips floating around, for which even I am to blame.
The most important lesson in the book for me was to ask myself one single question on every action item added into the system:
What is the next action?
Such a simple question can have a tremendous impact on productivity and actually finishing tasks and projects. How many times have your not come out of a long meeting discussing action plans and strategies, just to realize that you haven’t really discussed how to proceed further in the project? By asking the simple question, the direction in a meeting can change and lead to you actually knowing what to do after a meeting!
There are of course lots of other lessons to be learned in the book, but I will leave those for you to find out by yourself! The ultimate goal of the book however, is to provide you with the principles and a framework for managing your entire life, not just your work. This will in most cases lead to a stree-free life, both personally and professionally.
The book is well thought out, both contents and structure wise. David Allen speaks with authority, while still maintaining the casual dialogue style (I listened to the audio book), which makes the content even more credible. If that isn’t enough, David has over 25 years of experience from managing tasks and coaching CEOs of large companies.
The only downside for me personally is that David speaks a lot of the analog world for managing tasks, like file cabinets for instance. Even though many people probably still use these kind of things for physical media, many people particularly in my line of work keep everything on the computer. Even though it was tempting to skip these parts, they all made sense in a way, and it of course makes the book available and relevant to even more people.
This is a perfect read for everyone, so grab it in your preferred media and enjoy!