David Allen

Getting Things Done

The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Getting Things Done Summary

15 minute read    Audio Available

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Getting Things Done is a time management method, described in the book of the same title by productivity consultant David Allen. The method is often referred to as GTD.

Who is this book for?

  • Readers who are interested in persuasive and leadership oriented books.
  • People who need to use persuasion to generate sales or inspire change.
  • Anyone interested to learn how to use why to get desired results.

Meet the author

David Allen (born December 28, 1945) is a productivity consultant who is best known as the creator of the time management method known as “Getting Things Done”.

Getting Things Done Summary

Make sure that you understand your reality. Once you understand how the world is, you can ensure that you stay productive in that world.

Have you ever felt like that world is leaving you behind? Many people do. The modern world is constantly changing and evolving, and it can be a chore to keep up. With that in mind, it can be helpful to think about the processes we use to make our lives more manageable on a daily basis.

How do we get things done? The first and most crucial step is realizing that the world is changing around us and understanding the new reality. What is required of us, and how can we ensure we are ready to act in this new reality?

The most important thing here is not to let things stagnate. We need to be able to deal with each problem or situation as it arises, rather than putting it out of our minds and trying to leave it for later.

To stay on top of all our responsibilities, we must ensure that we remain productive, regardless of the situations we find ourselves in at any given time. In a world that is continuously changing, it can be effortless, and this causes them to sit in the back of our minds. The more things we forget, the more things are stuck there, not being done. Similar to the RAM on a computer, this can make us progressively less able to deal with new problems that arise in our daily lives.

To ensure this does not happen, proper workflow management is required, and in his book Getting Things Done, David Allen puts forth some ideas for how we might achieve this.

You cannot solve all of your problems at the same time. Therefore, effectively managing your time means accepting that you can only do one thing simultaneously.

The first thing you need to be aware of to manage your life successfully is that it is a process rather than a single solution.

The first step in this process is identifying everything you still need to do. In other words, you must collect all your outstanding tasks into easy-to-manage groups. In this step, you must group similar tasks to make them into a manageable group, what Allen calls “collection buckets.”

This grouping of tasks allows you to handle them naturally and productively without getting sidetracked by other tasks.

The next step you will need to take is to empty these collection buckets. That is where you process all the tasks that need to be accomplished and decide when and in which order you will achieve them. If a job is quick and straightforward, you should deal with it immediately and get it out of the way. If it is more complicated, you need to plan when and where you are going to complete it instead.

At this point, it becomes critical to organize the tasks into manageable groups and decide the order in which they will be completed. You need to determine which tasks must be completed in which order and place them in the proper hierarchy. You can help yourself by writing down a list of the functions you wish to finish each day.

The last step before actually doing the tasks themselves is to review your planned list and ensure that your listings are correct.

Once you have done this review, you are ready to start doing the tasks themselves, and just like that, you’re on your way!

Don’t start a project before you know precisely what you want to achieve. The easiest way to get lost in the details is to not have a big picture in mind.

Have you ever faced a big task or project and got stuck with no idea where to start? Don’t worry. It happens to most of us. Luckily, there is a solution.

Your brain goes through a natural decision-making process before making any decision, which is useful. The great thing is that because we understand this process, we can “steal” it and use it consciously in all our decisions.

The first thing your brain does before making any decision is to decide what it wants to achieve. Effectively it asks: What do I want the result of this decision to be? That is how the brain defines the success or failure of any given situation, and you can use that same question to help you decide what you want to achieve in any given case.

The next step that is required is to imagine the outcome you want. You effectively think about your goal and guess what the situation would look like if you achieved it. If you can visualize that result, you can work toward making it a reality.

Making that goal a reality takes a few more steps, the first of which is to identify all the ways you can make that goal real. If you are unaware of all the possible options for reaching your plan, you cannot decide which one will give you the best result.

Once you have identified those possible solutions, you organize them from best to worst. But, first, you need to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each option and arrange them in a way that gives you the best chance of choosing the best solution.

Once all of this is finished, the only thing you still need to do is to identify what action you have to take next. What do you have to do to apply the solution you have identified?

Once you’ve answered that question, you’re on your way.

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“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.” 

David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

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