Review of “Getting Things Done” By David Allen

This time around we are going to review Getting Things Done. A methodology developed by David Allen. This methodology appeals to the geek culture on the internet, and especially to the programers, due it’s structural and logarithmical approach. It allows you to assemble tight plans and enhance your productivity, if you have clear tasks. Numerous people will claim this book to be productivity bible and will appear to behave in cult like manner in their propagation of the GTD legacy. While it defined a frame work for numerous people to start their productivity journey, we at Alpha Efficiency aren’t convinced in it’s efficiency. We moved away from it’s teachings and decided to “Quit GTD“, as it didn’t prove any factual based evidence to support it’s claims. Some of the teachings in the books have merit, but following it blindly has shown to hurt productivity to numerous people, as system is robust and highly inefficient in order to maintain.

Overview of the book

The book consists of three parts:

The Art Of Getting Things Done“. This part of the book explains the mental processes from David Allen’s point of view. In my opinion this part of the book is it’s weakest links, as it doesn’t explain how to implement new inner game, but rather how things function, and from there he gives justification for the system, and why it completely needs to replace your thinking process. The reason why I don’t like this part, is the fact that David didn’t remind you to “Do your own thinking“. No matter how good of a system you get from him, if you didn’t earn it, by doing your own thinking, it’s never gonna be good enough. On the other hand, he clarifies the importance of the bottom up approach, because numerous daily tasks prevent us from seeing the bigger picture. Most people focus too much on this part of the book, instead of getting in the zone with it.

It was initially made for pen and paper, but as the GTD culture emerged throughout the internet, numerous apps came to life to support this system. Some of these apps are really good task managers, and I use some of them, even though I’ve quit GTD. Some of the popular applications are: Omnifocus, Evernote, Zendone, Things…

Getting Things Done is one of those books that offers a lot of tips and techniques, but when it comes to implementation of that methodology in digital world, it falls behind, and seems like it was written for 20th century, and doesn’t seem to offer solution for modern day problems, like social media and numerous newly found distractions found in Tablets and Smartphones.

Numerous GTD folks follow this methodology religiously, but if you pay attention to the forums, you will see a lot of cries and whines, on how hard it is to actually implement this kind of robust system.

Brain Cutlery and I had a long discussion on what are pro’s and con’s of GTD. And perhaps you will find yourself in some of these articles:

  1. Quit GTD
  2. Why I disagree with Bojan on Quitting GTD
  3. Fallacy of Systems Thinking and Reversing The Productivity Game
  4. Why I don’t agree that Systems Thinking is a Fallacy
  5. Further Down “The Fallacy of Systems Thinking” discussion

If you go through this long debate, you will see the pro’s and con’s of following a tightly regulated system. You will also see my directions for new productivity enthusiasts, and what would be the proper starting point.

So is it worth the money invested?

I do recommend getting this book, never the less, but keep your critical mind turned on while reading it, because I am convinced that implementing this kind of system takes more time to get implemented than benefits reaped from it. And it’s an overkill for numerous people. But some basic principles are cornerstone of modern time management.

Steep learning curve might make you fall behind on your productivity for a while, before it starts going up again. If you want something that will take you off right away and is simplified for the newbie, I recommend that you check my article on the Very First Step To Becoming Alpha Efficient.

Getting Things Done can be found on Amazon and on iBooks Store. It’s a timeless classic, that needs a revised edition.

Finally is it worth your money?  It all depends on where you are in your productivity game. I don’t believe that this book is good for someone just starting out. Person that is suffering from things such as procrastination and lack of motivation and energy to complete their tasks, can safely turn their head into another direction, as there are far better solutions out there.

Comments

  1. László Kecskés says

    Great post! I’m trying to implement my GTD system since 2011. The most advantage is the system force you to think on your daily tasks and get a clear picture of your capacity.