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Book Review: Getting Things Done

June 30, 2020

Getting Things Done
the art of stress-free productivity
by David Allen

I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like it a lot. Because, it’s a really good book. The reviews are all true. The information in the Getting Things Done (GTD) method are amazing. And they, no doubt could lead to amazing levels of productivity.

Have you ever wanted to learn to play the violin? I don’t know anything about playing the violin, but my sister plays wonderfully. But, imagine that you want to learn to play the violin. So, you find a really good violin teacher. And that really good violin teacher writes a book on how to play the violin.

That’s what GTD was. The information was wonderful. And I could see in reading it that if you put it into use, it would be amazing. But, when I got done, I really wasn’t much better at playing the violin, or the art of stress-free productivity.

I’d picked up some pieces I’d learned some vocabulary. Mastering your workflow, the five phases of project planning and capturing habit. It’s good info. But, hard to put into practice.

David Allen even acknowledges this when he says is describing “The Path of GTD Mastery,”

GTD is actually a lifelon practice with multiple levels of mastery. It is very similar to playing an instrument like the violin. . .”

There is a corresponding training course that goes along with the Getting Things Done book. And I’m sure that if I had a chance to attend a training, I would be much better at playing the violin when I got done.

What I Liked

The material really is written well. The examples are relevant and useful. You don’t have to adopt the entire GTD system to find value in parts of it. And if you were to go through the material in detail, working on it page by page, I would imagine that you could eventually master the violin. Well, probably not master, but at least learn to play Farmer In The Dell.

What I Didn’t

There was a lot here. I’m a fast reader. This book took me six months to read. And I only finished it because. . .well, it’s hard to write a book review if you don’t actually finish reading the book. The material doesn’t seem to translate well to the written page.

Rather than trying to present the entire GTD system, it might have been more useful to focus on smaller, more useful exercises to practice the topics. I also would have liked to see scenarios. Show how someone started with a manual system and then in ten pages or so show us how they used the GTD method to organize their life.

I’m not even sure that would solve it.

What It Means To You

If you have the training, this book is a great refresher. Or, if you are a learner who does well with the written word, you could find value. And there are certainly nuggets of value, but it took a lot of time and effort to find them. And by the time I did, I didn’t care.

My Rating

2 out of 4 stars. I really wanted to like this more

Stay Safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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