Last week or the week before one of the guys in my class sent an email around discussing the book, Getting Things Done. His email was more concerned with finding tools for the Mac rather than actually discussing the book. For some reason, I stopped what I was doing and started doing some research on the book which ended in about 20 minutes with me ordering it from Amazon.
The book summary is pretty simple. The author, David Allen, walks the reader through an approach to managing information, projects and next actions for anything that is outstanding. Wiki has a pretty good summary here.
The book arrived late last week and just reading the first chapter really struck a cord with me. Allen discusses how most of us are really comfortable with our calendars because as a system it is complete. We put meetings in there, events and moments in which our presence is needed. Except for rare occurrences, like putting the wrong time in my calendar for a Class Gift meeting the process is pretty straight forward.
However, every other system for tracking our daily tasks, projects and actions isn’t complete. He asks how many emails are in your inbox right now that need some type of action? For me the number was around 120 with about 20 having something to do with current school projects and the other 100 mostly personal emails waiting, and waiting, and waiting to be replied to by yours truly.
I’m only part way through the system but a few additions to Outlook and GMail (GTDInbox plugin for Firefox) but find it is really helping me come to grips with all the things happening in my life including 3 big classes at school, preparing to move countries, organising my social time and business time and getting my emails under control. Chatter on the web says people who read this book become evangelists pretty quickly. I understand why.
I think this concept (getting things done) weighs heavily on the minds of many people. This isn’t rocket science, but I base most of my thoughts around people’s reaction to reading it. For instance, riding on the tube a few days ago a person actually struck up a conversation about asking about the book. Oddly, the only other book that had this reaction was one called Understanding Body Language in which I had a girl on an Indian train, second class accommodations, actually come up and ask to read it. She borrowed the book for 20 minutes, read it intently, wrote the name down and gave it back.
I still haven’t finished the book (what if I don’t, irony huh?) but as of now I recommend it to anyone who feels overwhelmed by their current work load.
Al, thanks for writing about the book: it was on my “to read” list for ages, but I always postponed it as “just another book about time-management”. I’ve started reading thanks to your post and it seems really useful! :)