Tag Archives: personal productivity

Getting Things Done – David Allen

“The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”

Okay, its okay to point and laugh and call me a nerd. I get it. I am not only reading semi-self-help books, I am reading books about personal productivity.

If you haven’t heard of Getting Things Done then you are either A) not a total geek or B) don’t work in an office or any type of corporate environment. But, I was finally convinced to read it – and you know what? I liked it! That’s right, I said it. I liked it! And I will probably read more.

That said, this book took me forever to read. Not that it was difficult, but it was one of those that you can’t just read on the subway. In fact, I am SOOOO dorky, that not only could I not read it on the subway, I came up with a highly complex method (okay, it was just two different colored stickies) of organizing my thoughts while I read the book.

What? You don’t believe me?

Photographic Evidence of My Shame

Photographic Evidence of My Shame

And I made lists! And messed with my IGoogle! And became more productive in a week than I had in a year. I did dry cleaning, gave clothing to charity, set up payment plans for my bills, cleaned out my junk drawer, updated my regular files, researched and utilized financial software, made appointments with doctors and got some work stuff done that I had been procrastinating about – including organizing my office. And my co-workers want my help on getting their inboxes sorted. And my boss thinks I may have gone off the deep-end, but he is beaming with Nerd Pride.

GTD (Yeah, that’s what us nerds in the know call it) has kind of a simple theory – Get stuff out of your head and into managable lists of projects. Then you  break down projects by the next physical action you can take on them. There is of course more to it, and Allen obviously hates trees. You should see how he wants you to organize yourself with folders and pieces of paper and … Greenpeace would not be pleased.

I kind of started on my GTD journey already, although I skipped some steps that Allen would be disappointed by. And I think I want to read a few more books before I figure out what works best for me, but for now I will put my color-coding to good use and bullet out some of the thoughts, concepts and quotes that stood out for me. There’s also these few paragraphs on page 241 in my copy that talk about why it’s usually intelligent people that procrastinate. This of course made total sense to me, in a very self-congratulatory “ha! I am disorganized because I am smart!” way. I am insufferable.

  • In karate there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water.” Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact.
  • Most people have dozens of things that they need to do to make progress on many fronts, but they don’t yet know what they are. And the common complaint that “I don’t have time to ____ (fill in blank)”  is understandable because you can’t do a project at all! You can only do an action related to it. Many actions require only a minute or two, in the appropriate context to move forward.
  • The verb “process” does not mean “spend time on.”
  • “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein

I will probably end up re-reading this, but I will save you the loser-ish details. Something else I learned? You don’t need to be some high-powered CEO or basket-case for these books to have a practical application.

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