Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Penguin, New York, 2001)

For now, I can't do any better than to refer you to Janet's review of Getting Things Done.  I found it a difficult book to read, even unpleasant, because it's not well written, and makes my mind feel like a hamster on a wheel:  running a lot but not getting anywhere.

But if Allen's book is disappointing, his ideas still inspire me—even if I did have to come at the ideas the wrong way around, from what other people have said about them.  Most inspirational was seeing Janet's version of the system in action, though I know I would have gotten more out of her explanations—and maybe out of the book—if I'd attempted to implement some of the ideas myself, first.

The book wasn't nearly as much fun to read as Don Aslett's books on controlling clutter, but I think they have a lot in common.  Getting Things Done is a lot about controlling the clutter in our minds.

"What's the next action?"  The answer to Allen's favorite question is, "Implementation."  But that's not really an answer, since "implementation" isn't a discrete action, but a mammoth project.  I hope to accomplish some baby steps this week, and—eventually—report back on the results.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, August 2, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Edit
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Just from reading Janet's review, I implemented "what's the next action?" to my overflowing physical inbox. (Prompted by Jonathan's, "mom, your inbox is overflowing!")

It worked great! There had been stuff in there for months, sitting around because I didn't know what to do with it. One thing was a paper item, reminding me of a potential Christmas present for Jon. So then all I had to do was write down the info on my "present" list in my planner, and the paper went away! Why didn't I think of that before? Well, when the option wasn't "put the paper back in my inbox and think about it later" I could actually think of the correct action.

Posted by joyful on Tuesday, August 03, 2010 at 8:26 am

Congratulations! (And thanks for the inspiration; I need all I can get as I face things here....)

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, August 03, 2010 at 9:09 am

I'm finally to the beginning stage of implementation! The "inbox" is a vital tool in the GTD system, and I came screeching up against the frustration that my desk was so crowded there simply wasn't room for an inbox. Nor to do any work not directly involving the computer. Psychologically, I had to deal with that before I could think about anything else.

Now, finally, after much heavy thinking and heavy lifting—pulling a muscle in my arm—I have a space I can work with. It's not perfect, but that's okay; success in GTD, as in many things, is an iterative process. But I couldn't go anywhere feeling so claustrophobic.

I still don't have an inbox, though. I'm temporarily using a banker's file box, as in the initial stage you need something much bigger than you will need later.


Posted by SursumCorda on Wednesday, August 04, 2010 at 6:36 pm

I'm beginning to get excited about this. Gradually, the years of accumulation of projects and everyday tasks and chaos are coalescing into something that might, just might, get on the right track for getting done. I still think the book is poorly written, but the ideas are beginning to make sense as I attempt to implement them—thanks to Janet having done much of the leg-, er, brain-work already, and holding my hand through the process.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I'll admit it: I'm tied to the computer. If I'm going to be away from home for any length of time, it comes with me. I would guess that 90% of the work I do involves the computer one way or another. I like computers, and naturally any organizational system I implement will be computer-based.

Or not. Actually, except for an online calendar, which I use so others can collaborate—and e-mail, of course—I've been doing my GTD work offline. Paper. Physical inbox, file folders, and sticky notes. It may be crazy, but I felt the need for a physical system exactly because I do so much else on the computer.

I also disregarded, in part, the author's advice to make everything convenient to hand. I see the importance of having things easily available and visible, but much as I'm tempted to put everything within reach, I've put some things a little further away—though still visible—just to get myself up out of the chair more frequently.

Posted by SursumCorda on Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 9:51 am
Our Spontaneous (Almost) Trip to Miami
Excerpt: New Year’s Resolution #8 was “Enjoy Spontaneity.”  This is far from my natural inclination; I like plenty of warning, and generally agree with the old Holiday Inn commercial that “the best surprise is no surprise.”...
Weblog: Lift Up Your Hearts!
Date: October 22, 2010, 6:35 am
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