Book Summary: Getting Things Done

The title of this book is somewhat a misnomer. This book is more about keeping things moving than it is about getting things done. The point of veiw of the author are to keep your appointments and deadlines carved in stone but the rest of your actions and tehir timelines flexible. The reward, the author promises is a Zen-like flow state, which he claims a person can turn on or off at will.

The book is based on the following theories:

  • Work is not well defined

  • The nature of work is dynamic.

  • The old tools of time and work management are inadequate.

  • One has to separate the woods from the trees.

  • Things will stay on your mind unless you clarify them and justify a plan of action and place enough placeholders to remind yourself of them.

  • This one is a kicker: One does not manage time, information or priorities

  • One only manages actions.

  • One does not do a project, but can take actions to move it forward.

  • Horizontal Management is the act of bringing coherence across concurrent activities

  • Vertical management is the act to thinking of a project from start to finish. It is the act of project planning.

The five stages of managing action are:

  1. Collect:

  2. Process

  3. Organize

  4. Review

  5. Do

1. Collecting is the art of gathering one's thoughts It could be simple like an in basket or 'sophisticated' as email. The focus is to get it all out of your head, and emptying your collections

2. Process: Analyze your collections: Are they actionable,, part of a project, do-able, delegatable or deferable.

3. Organize:

  • Non-actionable actions are of three types; trash, incubation(someday/maybe) tools and reference.

  • Projects are outcomes that require more than a single action.

  • Actions that can be completed must be done forthwith and do not have to be tracked.

  • Calendar items are either time or day specific actions or day specific information.

  • Daily To Do Lists are stressful and can be done away with.

  • Calendars only need to track fixed appointments and deadlines.

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