Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen boggles the mind with the breadth and depth of his system that frees the mind to do what it should do.
I’ve talked about some parts of this book regarding the aspect of getting things out of your head and onto paper and thus freeing up your mind to do the higher work.
The method explained in the book is all-inclusive and daunting. I recommend a complete read of the book before you attempt to implement the GTD method as it’s called by users of the system.
Getting things done is now my project to get done.
I thought the best way to give you a taste of this book is to share some of the apt quotes from the book.
I’ll start with the quote that sums up the theme of the book:
Getting Things Done Quote One.
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”
Getting things out of your mind and onto paper clears space for having ideas.
See my video on this topic: A Simple and Quick Way to Improve Your Productivity Here Remember to like subscribe and share.
Getting Things Done Quote Two
“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”
Again, this is a mirror of the previous quote but is one of the most important tenets of the book. When we hold things in our mind without even knowing that we are doing it’s a distraction. Mix this in with other distraction and we get pulled away from the important work.
The foundational idea of GTD is to use a capture system to move those things sitting in our mind onto paper. The simplest take on this I’ve seen is the use of sticky notes. One note for each idea.
Getting Things Done Quote Three
“We need to transform all the “stuff” we’ve attracted and accumulated into a clear inventory of meaningful actions, projects, and usable information.”
Probably from where you are sitting reading this, you see part of the collection of all the stuff you have scattered around you. All be it in nice orderly pills and lovingly displayed. But do you know where you filed that article about traffic generations you wanted to read? Where did you download that e-book you really do intend to read.
Part of the process of Getting Things Done is to organize this accumulation into systems. That gives you far greater control and a more stress-free existence.
This is where the idea of projects derive as a method of getting things into that usable form.
Getting Things Done Quote Four
“Being organized means simply that where something is matches what it means to you.”
Something to think about. Does what something means to you match where it is?
Getting Things Done Quote Five
There is always more to do than you can do, and you can do only one thing at a time. The key is to feel as good about what you’re not doing as about what you are doing at that moment.
Ever get that upwelling of frustration? Do you keep thinking about something else you want to get done while you are working on something else?
Having a system in place that helps you organized the most important work prevents that stress from trying to do everything at once.
Getting Things Done Quote Six
If you’re waiting to have a good idea before you have any ideas, you won’t have many.
This is very like putting the cart before the horse. There is a whole strategy outlined in the book before you even start to think about ideas.
Then you need to generate ideas first, decide the good and the bad later.
Getting Things Done Quote Seven
Things you name, you own. Collected but unnamed stuff owns you.
Ever tried to find that unnamed file in your computer? Remember the frustration? It owns you until you found it. If you gave up it still owns you.
Getting Things Done Quote Eight.
Airtight organization is required for your focus to remain on the broader horizon and eliminate the constant pressure to remember or be reminded.
Our everyday world is distraction enough. It is so easy to get pulled off purpose and end up fiddling around on Facebook, or watching YouTube Videos. While you chase these distractions your project languishes as an incomplete cycle. Having a system that does all that kind of thinking for you, frees you to work on what matters most to you.
When I’m typing and in the flow, my finger knows, without me thinking about it where the letter “z” is. But the moment I start thinking about the “Z” I’m going to need to hit in the next few letters, my finger loses the memory.
That’s what happens when you have not captured all those tasks you need to remember.
Right now, without reading the book, it may sound like there is no way to eliminate all that. This system if fully implemented will.
Getting Things Done Quote Nine.
When your in-tray overflows, actions aren’t getting done. If your to-do list sits ignored on your desk, nothing is getting done.
If you organize your day around a series of actions, stuff gets done.
It’s a simple principle that runs through every aspect of the GTD system.
Simple yes. Easy no.
Getting Things Done Quote Ten
I wanted to end with the simplest quote but the one that has the biggest impact on your personal productivity.
For anything you do, anything your touch, any idea you have, you have only one question to ask.
What is the next action?
If you use this question every day, every time you switch tasks or complete a task, you will 10x your productivity.
This is the crux of the book.
Of course, you don’t get to simplicity without first removing all the complexity you’ve created in your environment, whether in your professional life or your personal. Getting things done is filled with examples from Allen’s own time spent with high-powered clients.
He also quotes from a wide range of people which makes reading the book a series of little mind explosions from sudden insights.
Have I fully implemented all the recommendations in this book?
Not yet. The second read is to implement each and every recommendation.
However, even if you only adopt a few of Allen’s ideas you will find yourself way ahead of the crowd and willing to learn more.
And if like me, you are a solo entrepreneur then you need this book.
What is your biggest challenge in getting and staying organized?
© Nick Grimshawe