Review: Getting Things Done

Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book.

Getting Things DoneFrom my perspective, David Allen’s Getting Things Done is the book on modern personal productivity. It really has changed my life significantly, as I’ve written about in the past and alluded to a few times, but I’ve never really reviewed the book itself in detail.

To alleviate that, I pulled out my well-worn and repeatedly hand-annotated copy of Getting Things Done and read through it again, trying to see it again through the eyes of someone who is unfamiliar with the philosophy. What follows are my notes on this walkthrough, which hopefully will provide more than enough detail to get the general ideas in the book and also make up your mind whether or not it’s something that’s right for you.

What’s The Basic Premise?

In a nutshell, Getting Things Done really centers around one key idea: you will be more productive if you take the set of things you need to do out of your head and put them down on paper (or some other written form). After that’s done, you can then focus on the tasks at hand and not worry about forgetting stuff, enabling you to focus better, get individual tasks done faster, and then move right on to another task without skipping a beat. It seems incredibly simple, but I can attest to the fact that this core idea works like a charm.

A Stroll Through Getting Things Done

As I leaf through the book, the first thing that I notice is that the outer margin of the book is loaded with quotations from various people and bullet points straight from the text. I think this speaks to the fact that this book is highly browsable – it’s designed to be easily leafed through and browsed during spare moments as well as read in meatier sessions, which is fitting because of how modular the underlying philosophy is.

Chapter 1 – A New Practice for a New Reality
The first chapter outlines in great detail how the information age has really changed how our lives work. We’re now consistently interrupted by deluges of email, cell phone calls, and so on, and quite often because of these technologies the line between our personal and professional lives begins to blur. Even more, we’re changing jobs and careers quite often, which means that the productivity tricks that might apply specifically to one job will likely not apply nearly as well to other jobs. What’s the end result of this? You wind up with a lot on your mind all the time, and quite often these things are half-formed ideas that you haven’t been able to flesh out yet because of the deluge of things to do. The key to success is to get all of those half-formed ideas out of your head – all of them – and then start going through them and focusing only on that task, confident in the fact that you don’t need to be thinking about the other ones at the moment, because you’ll get to them soon enough.

Allen suggests a “test the water” exercise that’s worth repeating here. Take two minutes to actually try it and see if it results in at least some sort of positive outcome for you. In a very simple way, this exercise is the whole Getting Things Done philosophy in a nutshell.

I suggest that you write down the project or situation that is most on your mind at this moment. What most “bugs” you, distracts you, or interests you, or in some other way consumes a large part of your conscious attention? … Now describe in a single written sentence your intended successful outcome for this project or situation. In other words, what would need to happen for you to write this project off as “done”? … Now write down the very next physical action required to move the situation forward. If you had nothing else to do in your life but get closure on this, where would you go right now and what visible action would you take?

Chapter 2 – Getting Control of Your Life: The Five Stages of Mastering Workflow
From that exercise, Allen moves on to defining the five basic stages of the philosophy:

Collect Start writing down everything you need to do and put it in an “inbox.” This inbox can be physical – literally make a note of every task you must accomplish or piece of information you must study or review and put it in a physical inbox – or electronic. Every single idea in your head, every email that needs a specific action, every piece of mail that needs a response – collect all of them and toss them in your inbox. You can have several inboxes if you’d like, just make sure that every plan, task, or idea in your head gets recorded and put into an inbox.

Process When you’re ready to start accomplishing, process your inbox. Decide if the things in there can be done immediately (in less than two minutes) and do the immediate things. Otherwise, do something with it: either put it in a pile of specific, clear tasks that you need to get done, give the item to someone else to deal with, or put it aside to deal with later. This is the first thing you should do when you have time set aside to get work done.

Organize Now, deal with the stuff that you’ve put aside. If it’s not something that requires action from you, throw it away, put it in an ideas folder (a “tickler” folder, as Allen describes it), or file it away for reference. Otherwise, it’s either something you need to do in the future (put it in your calendar) or something highly complicated (a project). For each project, spend a moment determining the next specific action item that needs to be done and add that item to your pile of specific tasks to do, then put the project away in a place where you can regularly review it. Speaking of which…

Review Basically, this means that you should go through your projects and your idea folder and determine what specific items you need to do, then toss them onto your pile of specific tasks. You can do this once a week or so. I actually put a “review items” into my inbox about once a week and process it as a specific task to do.

Do Amazingly, those other steps don’t take very long at all – I can charge through a quite-full inbox in about five minutes and then I’ve got a pile of specific tasks to do. Then I just start going through them one at a time and I’m confident that everything I need to get done is in that pile. You might need to order the pile a bit, but often I don’t order it at all unless something is crucial and needs to be done now – I just focus on getting stuff done. It works like a charm, I tell you.

Chapter 3 – Getting Projects Creatively Underway: The Five Phases of Project Planning
Here, Allen focuses on the challenge of transforming a large project into specific actionable tasks. It basically breaks down to five pieces: figuring out the purpose of the project, determining what you want the outcome of the project to be, brainstorming how to get there, organizing the material from the brainstorming into some sort of plan, then pulling out specific action items from that plan.

Let me give you an example. My wife and I want to buy a house because we need more room for our growing family (purpose). We decided the kind of house we wanted (outcome) and then started tossing out all of the stuff we needed to do to make it happen (brainstorming). After that, we took our ideas and folded them together into a general plan (planning) and since then we’ve been pulling action items out of it and getting them done, knowing we have an overall plan in place.

Chapter 4 – Getting Started: Setting Up the Time, Space, and Tools
This chapter focuses on setting up a physical implementation of GTD, which basically at its core requires a couple paper trays, some folders, some paper, some Post-Its, and some writing utensils. Given the philosophy, it’s not too hard to see how this comes together, though this chapter is loaded with specific tips on the topic.

For me, I basically keep my GTD in my backpack (basically an inbox in motion, along with a notebook for an action items list) and an even simpler form of it in my pocket in the form of a Hipster PDA. This is really all I need to keep mine going.

Chapter 5 – Collection: Corraling Your “Stuff”
If you’re going to give the system a shot, be warned that this first step of collection is going to be a major task. Basically, what you need to do is go through every aspect of your life where you have things that need accomplishing and put them all in a gigantic pile in your inbox. I often find that if I don’t have a physical item associated with a thing to do, I just take a piece of paper and write the item really big on the top – this works well for appointments and other tasks.

The first time is the trickiest – set aside an afternoon, seriously. What you’ll wind up with is a gigantic pile of stuff of all kinds that needs to be dealt with. When I first did this, my pile was about fifteen inches high – and there were no books in it, either, all paperwork and single sheets. Once this initial collection is done, ongoing collection becomes easy: when something comes up, toss it in your inbox, then start off every period of time you have to focus on getting stuff done with a processing of your inbox.

Chapter 6 – Processing: Getting “In” to Empty
Basically, processing your inbox means looking at every item in your inbox and doing one of five things with it: trashing it, completing it (if it’s less than two minutes), delegating it, putting it into your own organization system (dealt with in the next chapter), or identifying it as a project that needs to be specially dealt with. Processing an individual item shouldn’t take more than a few seconds unless it’s one of those items that you can do in two minutes or less, so going through even a mountain of stuff shouldn’t take too long.

Here’s an example of my own inbox processing I did just now. There were three items in my inbox: a cellular phone bill, an issue of The New Yorker, and a sheet of paper that had a list of small household chores. Paying the cell phone bill would take a bit, so I put it aside into my “actionable items” pile; I then quickly processed my New Yorker issue by pulling out the drop cards and marking with a Post-It note the three articles that looked interesting, then I put that in my “readings” pile (I maintain a pile of stuff to be read). Since most of the items on the list of household chores take two minutes or less, I just went through that list immediately. Now, I start going through my actionable items…

Chapter 7 – Organizing: Setting Up the Right Buckets
This chapter focuses on the most self-defined part of the process: how will you organize all of your stuff? The chapter gives a ton of food for thought on various criteria for deciding what sorts of groupings to have and reading through it a time or two will really help clarify what groupings are really important to you.

As for me, aside from my calendar I have five “piles” that I put the stuff that I process into:
- Actionable items are straightforward tasks that I can just simply do and not worry about too much.
- Readings are items that I want to read. This is usually a pile of magazines and printed-out articles.
- Storage are items that I need to somehow store, either electronically or somewhere else.
- Projects are simply folders that describe large, ongoing projects. I keep all of the paper for these projects right inside and I go through them once a week to make sure there isn’t anything I specifically need to be doing.
- Ideas are things to think about or to research. These are usually ideas for writing or things that might be far in the future.

These five piles pretty much take care of what I need to do in my life. Most of my time is spent going through the “actionable items” pile – I’m usually really happy when that pile is empty, because that means some pure free time.

Chapter 8 – Reviewing: Keeping Your System Functional
Naturally, like any system, if you don’t do some occasional review, it starts to fall apart. The premise here is that at least once a week you should be reviewing all of your organization piles and figuring out what to do with everything in them, something I wholeheartedly agree with and which often defines my Sunday afternoons while my son is napping.

My normal review process, as I alluded to above, is to go through my “actionable items” pile whenever I have free time. When that’s done, then I usually move through the others as desired. Once a week, though, I spend an hour or so going through the other piles to make sure nothing has slipped through the cracks, especially the projects folders, which usually ends up with a bunch more “actionable items.”

Chapter 9 – Doing: Making the Best Action Choices
This is another area where you can “plug in” your own philosophy: how do you decide which of your “action items” to do first? Allen introduces three different philosophies for organizing these actions, but what it really comes down to here is what works best for you in terms of deciding which of the specific actions really need to come first and which ones can wait.

For me, it’s pretty easy: I put the “must do” ones on top, then I just deal with the rest as they fall. I might occasionally skip ahead if something seems pretty unimportant, but this is actually pretty rare for me.

Chapter 10 – Getting Projects Under Control
This brief chapter just reiterates the importance of being diligent on ongoing projects, particularly in terms of figuring out what comes next. If you’re stuck, just spend some time and go back through the brainstorming process and see what happens – the point is to never let a project start to collect cobwebs unless it truly is a low priority for you; instead, focus solely on the project and try to break the logjam.

Chapter 11 – The Power of the Collection Habit
The final three chapters, of which this is the first, are mostly just full of examples of how the process helps your overall life, often in subtle ways that you don’t expect. For example, the collection habit ensures that things stop falling through the cracks and often results in people trusting you more implicitly than before. Even better, it washes away a lot of negative feelings – almost everyone has felt terrible because they’ve forgotten something important. The idea of collection ensures that such forgetfulness need not happen.

Chapter 12 – The Power of the Next-Action Decision
Similar to the previous chapter, this chapter reveals some of the hidden benefits of determining what the next specific action is for a project – and doing it over and over again. For starters, you begin to truly appear like a leader to others because you seem to have a grasp on the project. You also inherently become more productive because you’re continually moving forward on a project rather than letting it sit there and stew.

Chapter 13 – The Power of Outcome Focusing
The final chapter looks at a part of project review that I briefly mentioned above: outcome focusing. In the past, I derided The Secret for selling outcome focusing as a magical solution, but the truth is that it has a role within a larger structure of accomplishing things: it’s the carrot that can lead you to accomplish tasks and really see where these tasks lead. For me, outcome focusing is key when I consider things like spending time with my son. I like to imagine that my son will turn out to be a wonderful, level-headed child; by visualizing that, it’s quite easy for me to comprehend why I want to do things with him that will develop his mind and body and soul, like reading a book with him or taking him to the park or holding him close to me as he drifts off to sleep.

Buy or Don’t Buy?

This may be a first in the history of The Simple Dollar, but I have to say that Getting Things Done gets a buy recommendation for everyone. It is simply the best personal productivity book I’ve ever read, and there’s material in this book that can apply to anyone‘s life, whether you’re a manager or a writer or a professional or a stay-at-home parent. You can get it for less than nine bucks – for me, it was perhaps the best nine dollars I’ve ever spent. At first, it seems like a whirlwind, but most of the stuff describes above takes seconds to do and then you can get down to doing stuff with a very clear mind and you’ll suddenly find yourself getting an incredible amount of stuff done.

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23 thoughts on “Review: Getting Things Done

  1. Simon says:

    Excellent! Just one beef. You call these “reviews.” That’s not the proper terminology for what you are writing. You are writing “summaries.” There is a *big* difference. Your SUMMARY of GTD was great!

  2. clkl says:

    Hello Trent,

    I just wanted to thank you for thoughtful, complete, and concise book reviews.

    I have been a subscriber for a while, appreciating the high signal:noise of your blog. I have read a number of the books you’ve reviewed. From these, I have confidence to trust the ones you review that I haven’t yet read.

    This is a tremendous resource and time savings. Thank you.

    All the best,
    CLKL

  3. toolman says:

    I have been using a cool To-Do online list which is free:

    http://www.rememberthemilk.com

    very nice interface and makes it easy to have an online to-do list. I use it for work and home, with different lists for each major area of stuff-to-do in my life :)

  4. Gal Josefsberg says:

    I have a similar approach, but since I like online tools, I ended up using Google home page for this. There are a number of useful widgets like a to do list, Google Notes and others that can really help you organize your life.

  5. Ken Girard says:

    Take a look at MonkeyGTD (http://monkeygtd.tiddlyspot.com/).

    It is a free, open source bit of software for tracking all of your projects and actions. It runs in your webbrowser.

    Simon keeps a blog for it at: http://monkeygtd.blogspot.com/

  6. Rance says:

    The problem with the whole GTD system is that there are people who are good at making and maintaining lists and people who aren’t. If you’ve ever done a Meyers-Briggs profile, you know that one of the major divisions is between these two types of people.

    If you fall in to the no-list group, you are doomed to failure when you attempt to use GTD system.

    I’ve read GTD twice. I’ve managed to use a few minor things from it, but for me, it just doesn’t work.

  7. Mitch says:

    Haven’t read GTD myself but have seen the coverage of it. I tend to make lists more for the stopping the swirling in my head–e.g. after taking a walk–I don’t usually refer to them unless it’s a really complex project. Rance, I’m not sure if you’re referring to intuitives, feelers, or perceivers, but I usually come up INFP (very N but just barely F). I would love to hear organization ideas from other smart yet “in the clouds” types of people.

    One thing that helps me is to keep a list of *categories* (rather than tasks or projects) on my main computer.

    I also have a timer program on my computer that I can set for 25 minutes or whatever. Then when I settle down, I can decide what’s most important in a vaguely Seven Habits way but not fussing around with it too much.

    Categories include each class, my grant project, lab management, food (e.g. plans to make pizza–need to set the dough an hour or two ahead), finances/giving/shopping, writing, and significant other (bowling? and just to remember to set aside quality time).

    I tend to keep a few notes on each category, but not everything I need to do. Lists get overwhelming quickly (this is why they’re called exhaustive, I’m convinced), so I use them more when I’m already overwhelmed, e.g. big new project (can’t get any worse).

  8. clkl says:

    @Simon: I think a reasoned buy/don’t buy recommendation at the end of a summary qualifes a post as a review.

  9. paula says:

    Hi, Rance and Mitch, and any other INFPs and right-brainers reading along,

    Trent’s blog has been of tremendous help to me in finding several organizing resources. I am gleaning information for reorganizing my whole life from the three following books:

    –”Organizing for the Creative Person,” by Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter Lamping, Crown Publishers 1993. I am always paralyzed by the number of choices in my life, and the clutter is tremendous. I never know where to start to attack it all. This book helped me realize that EVERYTHING in my life = “stuff” that needs to be organized somehow, and then offered ways to get started. This book dovetails into:

    –Trent’s favorite, “Your Money or Your Life,” Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, Penguin, 1992, 1999. Besides helping me rethink where my life is going (something INFPs do anyway, so that’s nothing new), this book approaches financial records in a holistic manner that Quicken and other tools don’t quite “get.” I have just taken the Quicken categories and sorted them into broader categories offered (not demanded or even “suggested”) in this book, which keeps stressing the need for you to find your own categories.

    These two books work with the subject of this thread:

    –”Getting Things Done.” I’m having a harder time reading this book if for no other reason than the margins are cluttered, the language is cluttered, and my brain goes into overload in a hurry. I won’t explain what else this book has, because Trent does a good job of summarizing.

    Incidentally, I have been making more lists for myself as a way of getting ideas out of my brain, but until I could control the other clutter through use of the first book I mentioned, my modus operandi tended to be as follows:

    1. Make list night before.

    2. Do one or two items on list.

    3. Get sidetracked by new project.

    4. Lose list.

    I’ve been throwing out loads of paper and things I don’t need, my email files are now reordered into mail that needs action and mail that needs to be kept for reference, and my email inbox is under 100 for the first time since 2004 (when I got home email). At its peak it had more than 2,000, because I neither had time nor had an idea where to put actionable mail without losing it forever.(This organizing tool came from “Getting Things Done” and was worth reading past all the quotations in the margin to find it.)

  10. Mitch says:

    I’ll have to look up Lehmkuhl and Lamping, and I’m sad to hear that about GTD The Book but will get around to it some year anyway. That’s the very reason why my girly indulgence is Real Simple rather than, say, Family Circle: it doesn’t put me on edge. Also have taken little sips of the Flylady philosophy (mod family, mod religion). Slow, small changes, way less “stuff” than five years ago or even one, but still too much. I tend to perfectionistically swerve between “way too anal” and “not nearly enough anal.”

    I think I should emphasize that it really helps to have the “big picture” (including visualizing my short- to medium-term future) in front of me to suck me away from my library book and keep me from pacing around for hours. Things like, “Get this assignment knocked out–> future profession, leave computer at 6 pm to go ‘home’–> relationship time,” etc.

    I wonder if keeping a “journal” of things done rather than a “to-do” list might not also be helpful to some people.

    I don’t think I’ve had only 200 emails for about ten years. Gargh. Paper is more urgent at the moment.

  11. Helen South says:

    I’m a creative person and usually have similar issues with lists. The review was informative, but I like books so I went out and bought it on the strength of the review – already I’m picking up useful concepts. Simply identifying things as ACTIONS to be taken (ie, I need to do five drawings of x for a lesson, rather than ‘I need to do a new lesson’) is a big step forward.

    So many of the opening comments reasonated with me – the gazillions of tasks that I juggle daily – so I’ll be interested to see how the rest of the book works out.

    I just wish I’d ordered the hardback from Amazon – the paperback I got has small type and the binding is stiff.

  12. paula says:

    Mitch,

    I didn’t mean to say “don’t read Getting Things Done.” I merely meant that it isn’t as easy to read as others say, if you are the easily distracted and overwhelmed sort. Don’t wait until “some year” to read it. I’m plugging away very slowly, but the flow charts that helped me reorganize my email files are extremely useful, and I have a lot more to read. I got it at my local library.

    Incidentally, another book I ordered from the library (which hasn’t come in yet) is “30 Days to a Simpler Life,” by Connie Cox. I have no idea whether this book will be useful. But the other three books I mentioned have made a huge difference.

  13. Mitch says:

    Paula, I only mean that I only read about 80 books a year, so I always have a big pile! But I will check RIGHT NOW to find out if the local libe has it.

  14. Sumey says:

    I actually did read this book, and implemented it full-force into a moleskine-based system since that seems to be all the rage in the GTD fan blogosphere (aside from Mann’s “hipster PDA”). This was last summer when I was juggling a fulltime and a half research job and procrastinating studying for the MCAT. I did somehow dump all of my thoughts into projects and actionable items. The more I thought, the longer the lists became. I liked the system because I never missed a thing, and all of my important papers were neatly organized into file folders.

    The intricacies of the system however slowly began to fade away… It became a burden to keep it up more than anything. The weekly reviews, the “capturing” on the go. It sort of turns you into a robot, and if you miss capturing one thing, it hangs over your head until you do get it down on paper (or your palm pilot, or whatever). Like, if you loan $5 to someone, you have to write it down so you can put it in the “Waiting” list.

    It’s a great system, and the book is written so well that you just want to go to office depot and buy a label-maker immediately! It does however take a lot of patience, dedication to the system, and a lot of attempts until you get it just right. It’s also overwhelming when you have such a long list of tasks to complete, once your own head has been emptied of these worries. Yes, they are down on paper, but now you actually have to DO them…

    Anyway, I have mixed feelings. I only wish I had the dedication to get back on the horse. After reading this review though, I kind of want to start back up with GTD. Fiddlesticks! This is what I get for wanting a free copy of Brazen Careerist?

    By the way, a “tickler” folder isn’t an ideas folder—it’s a folder for upcoming things that you want to look at on a certain date.

  15. ryost says:

    Hi –
    This is a really good summary of GTD.

    I have recently incorporated many of the tips from GTD at the office as I recently received a promotion that involves a lot more planning, responsibility for projects, and team work with other project leads.

    Without these tips, I floundered for a while under the crush of new responsibilities – a simple “to do list” was not getting it done. Finding a system that details how to take care of the different types of things that pop up has made a world of difference.

    I’m trying to apply these practices to my personal life as well, but that has been a little more difficult. I guess I need the threat of letting down a co-worker to get me completely in gear!

    To Sumey – I know what you mean about making the step from a list to actually doing something about them. But, for me, having the list made is half the battle, and gives me the chance to rest my mind since I know I won’t forget anything!

    Rich

  16. Cv says:

    I am a creative ENFP and have evolved my lists from purging all of the “I gotta do’s” that were rattling around in my brain onto a page in my daytimer. Highlighting the things I completed. Re-adding the things that I realized that I didn’t quite complete. Once the page was filled I’d either toss it or file it in the to be tossed later pile. The highlighting fulfilled my need for a visual “Atta Girl”. And, it allowed me the delight in seeing the whole page finally get to that lovely shade of eye popping bright yellow or orange; which meant that I could now rip it triumphantly from the book and move on to the next page and the other things that were awaiting my attention. Then someone gave me a palm pilot type thingy and my list were then shot into the electronic age; still in categories. Things to Buy, To Read, To do, Must Do, Wanna Do, etc. The deleting wasn’t as much fun as the highlighting was, but I guess it was nice to see the item disappear with a tap tap of that magic wand/pen thingy. When my Palm finally gave up it’s last breath after being dropped for the umpteenth time, and my needs and finances had changed….My list making went retro and took a turn back to simpler times so to speak. I have now evolved (?)into using a dry erase board on my fridge. I now get to purge completed tasks into oblivion with a triumphant swipe of the dry eraser and/or finger of choice, depending on the PITA factor of the task. Seeing my list with a bunch of white spaces in-between the black words of the Gotta Do’s is once again, giving me the beloved visual “Atta Girl”. When I see too much white space, I pat myself on the back and then I swipe and rewrite those pesky things that are wont to float along on my list; waiting to be finally sent into oblivion.

  17. walleyegirl says:

    I’ve developed a pretty streamlined approach that allows me to remain productive and on top of everything, but I don’t have to devote myself to an elaborate system. I just use a Word doc and about five minutes a day (fifteen on a heavy day).

    On the computer that I use all day, I have a “project list” – a word document that contains a short, bulleted list of upcoming priorities. These aren’t errands, but three to twelve month projects that I have to constantly remind myself of unless I get derailed. If this list is more than a few items long (define your own “few”), I reevealuate, because I’m probably going about something wrong, or I’ve taken over the work of the truly responsible party, LOL.

    Right below my project list is my to do list. These are the items that I need to get done fairly soon. It is fueled by my appointment book, emails, kids’ schedules, etc.. Once I have a list of things to do, I put the immediate needs to the top of the list. These are what will be done for the week, and I organize those by day and time, grouping them for effiency (and fun!). After a short time, I was able to correctly identify how much time I truly need to get things done. I have found incredible time savings (and procrastination busting!) in doing this. I end up wasting less time in transit, because I group my errands better, forecast when i need a sitter, know when I need to enlist help, pool resources, whatever. It’s great – TRY it! The other great thing about this is that there is no rule that says you MUST get everything done today (there is always tomorrow). but if you BOLD the items that really do HAVE to get done today, you’ll know to skip to them when time gets crucial. I’m a procrastinator, but when I go by this system, I really clean up on it. I think that being able to wipe the slate clean by the end of the hour or day energizes me so much that I don’t even want to procrastinate. Odd but awesome.

    Now, after the week’s scheduled list, a list of items will still remain. Keep those at the bottom of your page(s), so you don’t have to remember them later, when you’re ready to refresh your list. A bonus to doing this is that you will be surprised to find you have a LOT of extra time with this method (I can’t believe I thought of it, LOL), and you have a great chance to attack some of these and get even further ahead. I have completed entire projects with the time I’ve saved from using this silly piece of paper for just a month. LOL, my kids like me better, too!

    The bottom of the sheet is is also a handy place to keep record of upcoming events. I can usually cut my workload down here also, because it has flagged me to ask people I run into about things I need to plan furter in advance. I wouldn’t necessarily have that on my radar otherwise.

    I’ve tried versions of to do lists – you have to read and try a lot – keep what works and sort away what doesn’t. After awhile, you’ll know what works for you. My list work for me because I can easily skim my list, identify what can be done on my breaks, delete what I’ve completed and print off a fresh copy just as I leave work (and thus start working, actively, on my list). Don’t hold onto anyone’s method like it’s the grail, and pass on what you find to others. The world can always use a bit of a hand, and yours might be the one it needs.

    The only other thing that sticks in my mind is that I try to touch each paper I deal with only once, if it requires less than ten minutes (or so) of my time. If I have to go back to it, I pencil it in on my list, or that paper will be forgotten forever, LOL.

  18. Dan says:

    For implementing GTD you might try out this web-based application:

    http://www.Gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    A mobile version and iCal are available too.

    Hope you like it.

  19. Isabelle says:

    I have just retired and have loads of ideas in my head for projects. Trouble is I never get myself started or organised. So, I’ve ordered the book and I shall be using the ideas to make sure I get as much crammed into my retirement as possible.

    I have the idea that if I start off doing lots of different things as I get older I will still do lots as I will be ‘in the groove’ as it were!

  20. Harry says:

    You may also want to try a web-based goal tracker, http://www.goalsontrack.com

  21. heather says:

    I just found a copy of this book, left by an errant owner and thought it looked good, but wasn’t sure. I thought to myself, “I wonder if Trent has reviewed this?” and sure enought after popping the author’s name into the search box, I found this great review. I am starting it in my first free time tomorrow!
    Thanks Trent

  22. Barb says:

    RE: Safe Deposit Boxes.
    Should the bank close, the contents of safe deposit boxes are not insured and anything of value may be kept by the bank.

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