Title: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Author: David Allen
Published: March 17th 2015 by Penguin Books
Since it was first published almost fifteen years ago, David Allen’s Getting Things Done has become one of the most influential business books of its era, and the ultimate book on personal organization. “GTD” is now shorthand for an entire way of approaching professional and personal tasks, and has spawned an entire culture of websites, organizational tools, seminars, and offshoots.
Allen has rewritten the book from start to finish, tweaking his classic text with important perspectives on the new workplace, and adding material that will make the book fresh and relevant for years to come. This new edition of Getting Things Done will be welcomed not only by its hundreds of thousands of existing fans but also by a whole new generation eager to adopt its proven principles.
It’s no secret that I love all things productivity and organization, I even wrote a couple of blog posts here about that, sharing my tips and tools to maintain a tidy and smooth online experience. I’ve been this way like my whole life, my parents give me documents and important papers to keep all the time, they even did it when I was only a child! Because they were (and still are) extremely unorganized and I was like the little secretary of the house.
So, when I read Kara’s post about Getting Things Done by David Allen I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. I gave myself about twenty days to savor every single word of this book and after finishing it I was so satisfied and happy that I couldn’t wait to put things on paper and create lists. Like many people who read this book and reviewed it, I already knew most of the principles, but I wasn’t kind of aware of them. Reading that my Weekly Reviews were part of a five steps workflow (Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect, Engage) made me realize that what I really needed were directions and Allen’s reassuring voice to tell me “you’re doing it right!”. Another thing I was already doing were brain dumps, but I didn’t know that you should do them just once in a while and the rest of the time you should be able to categorize all the stuff that comes up during the day without any problem.
The biggest discovery for me has been Contexts. I used to create endless lists on my bullet journal and sometimes color coding my study tasks, but the truth is that when the day was over, I left many of them incomplete or I ended up being confused about what I could do if I only had like 10/20 minutes of times (so I did nothing, I just procrastinated). While Allen recommends to immediately write day/time-specific actions in your calendar, so you won’t forget about them, he also recommends to create different lists about contexts. The most common ones are: Agendas, Anywhere, Calls, Computer, Errands, Home, Office. If you have to do many calls for work, well, it would be useful to have a list with all the phone calls you have to do, or all the groceries you have to buy, things you can do only at home, and so on. I modified the system a little bit, because I’m a student and I don’t have a job, I also live in the country and when there are thunder storms or a big amount of snow we usually lose electricity, so it was logic for me to create an Offline list for all the actions I can take when I don’t have electricity, like keep up with my daily journaling, clean my desk, read that pdf I downloaded weeks ago, and so on.
Finally, another core concept of Getting Things Done is realizing that many of the tasks you wrote in your to-do lists are actually projects and need a proper section. David Allen’s definition of project: Any outcome that requires more than one next action step to complete and can be completed within one year. Any commitment within that time frame needs to be reviewed at least weekly.
That said, “organize the closet” was originally a task in my general list of things I wanted to do, but it’s actually a project, because it requires several different actions to get it done, so I moved to the Projects section of my organizer.
I won’t spend tons of words talking about this book, because I think you should totally read it, if it’s a topic that might interest you. Speaking of action steps, for my One Little Word this month I want to try to get this system running and actually trust it, like Allen recommends, I’ll try to improve it and create new habits to be able to have LESS in my mind and more on paper.