Book Review: Getting Things Done By David Allen

Zy Marquiez
January 10, 2018

“We get such a kick out of looking forward to pleasures and rushing ahead to meet them that we can’t slow down enough to enjoy when they came.”
– Alan Watts

In an advancing age of speed, where the smallest circumstance can cost time and money, a way to warp through the morass would benefit any individual.  Getting Things Done is a book that not only helps individuals cut through the cluttering weeds of daily life,  but also helps narrow down with specificity the proper actions to be taken and how to sequence those in order to attain your goals.  Therein lies the simplicity of the book.

The book’s main tenet lies behind the ultimate value of “Next-Action Decision-Making Process.”  This next-action process is achieved by merely asking ourselves “What’s the next action?” or simply “What’s next?”  The task of asking ourselves what needs to be done not only increases our speed because we remain focused on completing tasks, but also increases productivity while also forcing accountability.  However, for all this to take place one needs to be precise.  For instance, saying one needs to go buy groceries is vague; on the other hand, saying one needs to purchase eggs, milk, bread, is not.  Such simple actions help dissolve much of the confusion that can take place in countless settings.  To be even more specific, one could also write down what store one would need to buy which specific items (if shopping at multiple places was part of the schedule.)

In any case, Allen also encourages individuals to write down their daily, weekly, and monthly goals in order to set their mind concretely on the right target, therefore employing the right steps.  Specificity here is also crucial, since the use of writing down specific action-steps through goals breaks down seemingly monolithic projects into much more manageable bite-sized chunks.  Such tangible actions are at the core of “getting things done”.

One of the critical suggestions Allen gives is in how one organizes tasks and thereafter sifts through these critical tasks.  This was my main reason for my purchasing the book, and the insights were highly valuable.  Along these lines is Allen’s two-minute rule, which is the one rule that has helped me the most given my nature and its practicality.  This rule boils down to whether or not a task can be done in two minutes; if it can, the task should get done on the spot – no waiting whatsoever.  If not, one gets to follow the proper “What’s the next action?” sequence and go from there.

With everything said, it is crucial to note that there are different editions of this book.  After reading reviews I chose to purchase the first edition rather than the latter one based on suggestions by a few people.   I noticed the latest edition, which is the third, is about 100 pages longer, although the content might be garrulous and didn’t seem to add any additional value in the eyes of the reviewers.  This is mentioned for consideration to others since there are multiple editions out there, some of which are more useful than others, depending on the circumstances.  The latter editions have been quite different, so please bear that in mind.

In any case, another significant component which added additional value to the book was the quotes on the margins.  Although the book could have been written without out them, the fact that the author chose to include these illuminating aphorisms help cement the points he was trying to make, and was very much appreciated.

Plain and simple, if navigating through life you run into ceaseless constellations of clutter, or merely want to organize part of your life, work, hobby, are a homeschooler or self-directed learner, even if just a bit, get this book.  Not only will this book help you streamline a lot of goals and save you time, but probably also save you money while also giving you immense peace of mind.  Complement this book with Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy, and you will surely have a template for success.

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