Getting things done – book review of David Allen’s GTD-book

I have bought and read David Allen’s book Getting things done translated to Swedish and called Få det gjort!. This is my review and thoughts about the book! Let me know if you’ve read it and what you think of it!?

Getting things done

As I mentioned in my book talk yesterday I bought this book out of curiosity and intended to read it as a reference only, not thinking I could use it. I didn’t discover my need until I started reading and I kind of gobbled each chapter down. There is a lot of great stuff inside this book and I totally understand why it has become so popular and loved! I think it has to do with the fact that it does not only present a functional and complete system for “everything” in your life but it has great psychological insight and explains why things will or won’t work, and helps you get started. Well, I think it will be difficult not to get started at least making a couple of lists after reading this book! I have made several lists and just writing them helps clear the view!

Personally I love cataloging things, writing lists, systematizing and organizing things! And that’s what this book is all about. Gathering your piles of stuff; your unsorted papers, to do’s, to fix, to buy, to talk about, to plan, to develope, to sketch out and to write down – and putting them in lists and systems that you check weekly and update regularly!

Some of the points Allen makes is especially interesting to me. He addresses a lot issues that only apply to the big boss or someone with a information job, but there are many many thoughts that are important to everyone who is creative! Like;

  • If you like me enjoy writing a list every now and then this book gives you material for list-making in abundance! And each list will help you get clear of what you have, what you want and what you should do next! Love that!
  • Allen prescribes a long term look at your life so that you focus on the right things in the now. This is something we all need to do, with our blogging, our creating, our actions today. Does it take you forward to your goals? Do you know your goals?
  • He calls everything we do “work” and that really resonates with me. Not only your payed job is work, but all the things you have in your head that you need or want to do creates invisible task you need to check off weather you write it down or not! Allen names everything we do “work” weather it’s a hobby, the maintenance of a home, family, vacation, your own business or other projects in your life! That’s my take on “work” too, because I can’t separate life from work (projects).
  • When you write it all down you empty your head and become stress-free! The way he describes this is “becoming like water”, a kind of list writing-meditation that I totally get!
  • I listed my private creative projects in one huge list and then made the distinction between “ongoing” and what Allen calls a list of Maybe/Sometimes! The Maybe/sometimes thought is fantastic as it enables you to write your future projects down without getting stressed about them in the now. They are not for now and not even promises to yourself – they are on the maybe-list! Love that!

Our regular to do-list is now named The Next Action and it is separate from your 1-5 year achievement list, your Maybe/Sometimes-list and your Projects going on right now-list! This is maybe the most important lesson in the book, to define and understand “next action”. Yes you need to understand the difference between your Next Action and the things you want to achieve in your life! For example, if you want to make a book don’t put up “Write book” because that is too much and too big. It will never be done. Write it in steps! What a revelation that was to me to see this! I look at my own to do-list and understand now why some lines stay for so long! hehe. Don’t put “Have a clean house” or “Create interesting blog”, instead write “Put away the clothes” or “Write one post with a nice review”! ;-)

Some things in this book is defiantly not for me and some seams to be overkill for most people, like listing “things to discuss with your family”!? But one can apply the techniques that feels interesting and not do the others! That tells me these are good organizing techniques.

From my blog bookFor me this book has opened my eyes to the fact that I had over 3000 e-mails in my inbox (dating back to 2005)! I have noticed how unproductive I am and that I need to change that. I have made a list of books that I have visible by my bed table waiting to be read; there are 22 book there right now! The list makes me want to start ticking them off right now!

As many of you know I’ve got lots of creative projects going on at once and I, like many of you, get overwhelmed with ideas, inspiration and want-to-do-right-now-thoughts. It can be paralyzing to have this many ideas all the time, so organizing is crucial! This book is applicable to all those projects

I just needed to start reading it to get inspired! You know how some books just sparkle and makes you want to take action right away? This book makes you want to jump up and go, go, go! Organize!

So far I’ve written some lists, moved all the e-mails from my inbox, got myself a green notebook to write sketch out blog posts (on the bus or train station when I can’t surf or type), removed the link to “check comments” and replaced it with a direct link to my “write blog post” admin! hehe, so far it’s working nicely. I ‘ll get back to this subject in later posts too!

Now, go check out that book!

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14 Responses to Getting things done – book review of David Allen’s GTD-book

  1. Veronica TM says:

    sounds like a really good book! i also like books that inspire me to take action in that way.
    i will have to check it out {but only after i read the ones in the list before it!}

  2. This sounds like exactly what I need right now, thank you for taking the time to share :o)

  3. Nichola says:

    Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve reserved it from my local library.

  4. Hagit says:

    Hi Hanna, I’ve not read the book, but I read a lot about it and various sites that are promoting the David Allen way, and it seems to me like the book itself may create more mess, because it’s more lists, more stuff to do and change…I’m not sure. In any case, could you explain why having lots of emails in the inbox is problematic? I have 9000 (really…), some dating back to 2000… but since they’re so old and I keep them as reference and for sentimental value, how does that affect my productivity? Many thanks in advance!:)

  5. Hannah says:

    Wow. Haven?t heared of that book so far but sounds pretty interessting! I?ve got to order it via amazon and probably a copy for my mum as well, she?s in strong need of a helping hand when it comes to organizing things ;)
    Thanks for sharing this book review with us

  6. RhettaRic says:

    I have always been a list maker. That sounds so organized. But if you were to look at my notebook – it’s A MESS. Lists are in the front of book, back of book, back pages of other lists, scraps of paper here and there. No sense to the lists. Things I want to do now mixed with things I KNOW I’m not going to do for ages. It’s crazy. I NEED the book… Thanks

  7. Chris says:

    Thanks for this! I am always so busy multi-tasking I have a really hard time getting things done. Thanks for sharing!

  8. iHanna says:

    Fun fact: if you write about GTD a bunch of guys come around and market their GTD-site though I didn’t let them market their stuff here since they are not interested in what I wrote, what this blog is about or anything else but themselves! I did the delete-thing… ;-)

    Anyway, Hagit,
    having a lot of e-mails stored is not problematic for me either, the problem is probably that I check them and don’t answer them and then the important ones keep going deeper and deeper into the pile and disipears! I get so much e-mail notices and stuff that I need to be more organized to know what’s important and what’s not! I don’t know yet how to manage it but I’ll figure it out while I go along! Any mess is not disturbing perhaps if you are always sure of what is important to do next. I’m not. I get sidetracked ALL the time! How about you?

    I think you’re going to looove this book! :-)

    Thanks for your comments girls!

  9. Miriam says:

    My husband loves this book and introduced me to it, and I often implement parts of it to try to keep myself productive. I’ve found it helps a lot with fighting my tendencies to get overwhelmed by all my ideas and projects and interests.

  10. caryn says:

    Hey hanna, my hubby is reading the exact same book at the moment ;-) he says that i provides great tips for multi-tasking.

  11. Laura says:

    Hey Hanna-

    Thanks. I have a few people in mind (myself included) who may benefit from reading this book!

  12. Rafa says:

    I read this book 2 years ago and am still struggling with it :D
    The website has been talking about GTD since 2003 or so. Specially interesting are the articles on managing email.

    I would also recommend “Time Management for System Administrators”; although it is targeted at SysAdmins, it has many practical advises, and it takes advise from many other books, including GTD. GTD is a lot for the “big boss” (who here has an assistant?). TM4SA, otherwise, is more for the person having to do everyday work in many projects.

    PS: “I get overwhelmed with ideas, inspiration and want-to-do-right-now-thoughts.”—I could have written this!

    PPS: Quick correction: “invisible task you need to check off WEATHER you write it down or not!”. “Weather” should read “whether”. The weather today is rainy ;-)

  13. Jason says:

    I love this book!! I totally identify with Allen’s notion that everything is work. It seems like when I leave the office, or “work” for the day, my time at home can be just as stressful. I am still stuck in my old ways, but GTD is helping me overcome them. Thanks for mentioning this Hana, and I would def recommend this book to anyone!

  14. Beth H says:

    great review – this sounds like something i could really use! i just ordered the book. : )

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