This is an article providing a summary “book club” reading of Mr. David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”. I’m reading from the 2001 Penguin Books edition.
This is also the second book in my 2008 business books reading list.
This is a very famous book, the method described here by David Allen created a small sensation and got rapidly many thousands of fans. Therefore it’s quite difficult to say something new about the book or the method, you can find it everywhere in internet. I will just limit the post to a small summary and will describe in a later post how I applied the method to my own work.
The scope of the book is to permit people to function productively even with an overwhelming number of things to do (due to what Peter Drucker termed “the knowledge work”), thanks to a method based on two key objectives:
- capturing all the things that need to get done into a proper system
- disciplining yourself to make front-end decisions about all those inputs
"the workings of an automatic transmission are more complicated than a manual transmission, [t]o simplify a complex event, you need a complex system". [Allen in Wired, 2007]
The method basic requirements are :
- you cannot fully trust your memory; anything you consider unfinished must be captured in a trusted system outside your mind that you know you will come back to regularly and sort through.
- you must clarify exactly what your commitment is and decide what you have to do to make progress toward fulfilling it.
- Once you have decided on all the actions you need to take, you must keep reminders of them organized in a system you review regularly.
The workflow process consists of five distinct phases (every phase described in a separate post):