Friday Book in a Page: Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done by David Allen

If you are a believer in systems as the key to maximizing your time and energy then, Getting Things Done is the book for you.  Allen discusses strategies for stopping the continuous circles of thoughts in your head that lead to overwhelm and discusses why unfinished tasks are robbing you of productive energy.  Best yet, he outlines the system to maximize personal productivity and energy.

Key Messages of the Book:

  • Your system involves a few essential lists and files.
  • Projects and Next Actions (Tasks):  Everything you need to do is either a Project or a Task and each Project is broken down into manageable sized tasks. 
    • Project:  Anything that requires more than one action step.  Keep all your active projects on one list to be reviewed weekly.
    • Next Action (Task): Each next action on every project.  A key concept is keeping every task small enough that you can take care of it in a short period of time.
  • Collection Bucket:  Get everything out of your head and down on paper (literally or figuratively).  This frees your brain up for thinking and not for storage.  Even when your conscious brain moves onto other things your subconscious is filling up trying to hold onto all that information.  Make a habit of emptying your collection buckets once a week
  • Contextual Lists.  Keep your tasks lists sorted by the parameters of doing them.  Rather than having everything for every project on one giant to-do list, keep them grouped by context.  i.e. Errands, At computer, At computer no wi-fi, Waiting on [someone], Calls etc.
  • Calendar:  Only keep appointments and date sensitive tasks in your calendar.  Do not use your calendar for any task lists.
  • Tickler File:  A system of 43 folders.  31 numbered and 12 with the month names.  When you have items that are occurring in the future, file them in the month they occur and then each month transfer the notes or files from the month into the 31 days.
  • Someday/Maybe List:  Everything that doesn’t go on a project or next action list or in the tickler file still needs to get out of your head.  So put it on the someday/maybe list.

The key to the system is using it every day.

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