Summary of Getting Things Done

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The metaphor of the stress-free mind as a still pond encapsulates the message of David Allen’s best-selling book. When a stone is thrown into a pond, the size of the ripples correspond to the size of the stone. Allen points out that the essence of stress-free living is getting the ripples of your mind to correspond with the size of the tasks on your to-do list. But you don’t reach Allen’s placid pond via a quiet, Zen-like path. Instead, you calm the waters of your mind by building and maintaining a rigid organizational system that’s so efficient that you never have to worry about any task once it’s been fed into the machine. The popularity of this book probably owes as much to the stress level of the book-buying public as it does to the level of innovation to be found in Allen’s method of organization. Often, the actual time-management techniques that Allen offers can get lost in fancy jargon and fall short of his general observations about stress, productivity and the mind. But getAbstract recommends this manual for a productive life to anyone looking for help in dealing with stress and an overheating to-do list you’re sure to end up with a fresh approach or two in your in-box.

About the Author

David Allen is president of David Allen & Company, and has had more than 20 years experience as a management consultant, executive coach and educator. He is especially known for his work on productivity, and has been a keynote speaker and facilitator for many organizations, including Oracle, L.L. Bean, QVC and the World Bank. He writes a biweekly e-mail newsletter, “Productivity Principles,” and his work has featured in many magazines and newspapers, including Fast Company, Fortune and the Los Angeles Times.



Beyond the Calendar

Many people today take on more projects than they can handle properly, thereby increasing their levels of stress. The projects themselves are problematic. Many of them are hampered by continual change and by fuzzy edges, so it is not always clear whether the job is finished or not. This lack of borders creates added work in organizations and spurs unnecessary, frequent memos and discussions about work in progress.

To accomplish your projects effectively and efficiently, you need to achieve the following two goals:

  1. Capture everything you need to get done now, later or some time in the future in a logical, organized, trustworthy system that records everything outside of your own memory, so you don’t have to think about these issues until you are ready.
  2. Discipline yourself to make advance decisions about how much information and instruction you allow into your life so you remain able to plan what you are doing and to change your plans as necessary.

You probably already have a complete calendar, but that isn’t a sufficient organizing tool, since it shows only a small portion of what you have to...

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Comment on this summary

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    F. M. 1 month ago
    Great summary and book!
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    M. V. 2 years ago
    really helpfull, works great in combination with Onenote
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    M. B. 2 years ago
    Good summary but its missing the whole part of the book dedicated to things you'd like to do if you had the time
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    R. S. 3 years ago
    This book has some simple and greatest ideas. I've already applied a few ideas, and that works ;)
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    I. G. 6 years ago
    Excellent ideas about systematically moving through work. I will be applying some form of these actions to my own systems.