The National Bestseller Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen was an absolutely awesome read, and I’d like to tell you about it. Firstly, let’s hook you up with the good stuff:
Purchase on Amazon here (you can snag it for less than 4 bucks!)
Visit the official David Allen Getting Things Done website here.
I want to say that Getting Things Done (GTD for short) is a time-management method, but it’s more than that. Getting Things Done is a mentality, a lens that alters your entire day, from top to bottom. From the mundane–receiving an email or hearing an idea–to the transcendent–accomplishing all of those outlandish, bucket-list goals on which you never imagined you would begin working, your mind is in the right place and on the right ideas. That’s one of the most powerful messages from GTD:
Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.
Everything you’ve told yourself you ought to do, your mind thinks you should do right now. Frankly, as soon add you have two things to do stored in your RAM, you’ve generated personal failure, because you can’t do two things at the same time. This produces an all-pervasive stress factor whose source can’t be pin-pointed.
The idea of RAM was something that really struck me, upon reading this book. David Allen likens our mind to a computer–a common and accurate analogy–and speaks on the idea of Random Access Memory (RAM). Every incomplete thought, every undecided action, every open-ended project occupies space in your conscious mind–when there’s an idea you haven’t completed, it lingers in your mind, and it cannot be resolved until you either complete the idea or deposit the ‘open loop’ in a trusted system.
Allen goes as far as to say that your mind, stuck on every unresolved concept, will gravitate back to that concept and worry about that lack of resolution at every time, in every place, especially when you can’t act on that concept. As soon as you submit an idea into the RAM of your brain, your brain thinks it should be doing that idea right now, all the time. The second you have two ideas stored in RAM, you’ve failed, because you can’t do two things at the same time.
This is such a powerful concept because it demands deliberate, focused thought–and the only way to achieve that deliberate, focused thinking is to synthesize a system that collects every ‘open loop’, every unfinished business, processes them to give context and meaning and organizes them, which gives us the power to review them and consequentially decide what to do about them.
That is the skeleton: David Allen moves forward to describe the many pieces of his full system, and the book is so valuable (YET YOU CAN GET IT FOR ONLY $4) for that reason. I’d recommend this book for many reasons–that is the primary. Top to bottom, life-changing redefinition of the every input, every idea, every stimulus.
One aspect of the system that is so crucial–and has been my greatest struggle in the implementation of my system–is trustworthiness. I’m an avid triple-checker. If I have an appointment or a meeting, I put it in my Google Calendar–I add the date, the time, the location, and reminders. Google Calendar even knows that I bike around the city, and will send me a notification with ample preparation time to let me know by when I have to leave to avoid tardiness, WHICH IS AWESOME.
But nonetheless, the second I get that notification, I open the original e-mail or letter that produced that meeting, and I check to make sure the date, time, and location are correct. Once I arrive, I pull out my phone, for the third time, and make sure–just in case I got it wrong the first two times–I have the time, date, and location correct.
I don’t trust my system, and without trust in the system, the loops remain open. Instead of not thinking about my meetings and obligations, I do think of them: if not their actual existence, then their context: the how, the what, the why.
All in all, this book rocked my world. I must again stress the fullness of the teachings. Unlike many productivity tips/tactics/teachings, it examines and affects the entirety of decision-making, information processing, and project management. At its conclusion, Mr. Allen recommends you return and reread within 3-6 months–you’ll probably hear more from me about it then. Until that time, please give it a solid look: it’s a real game-changer.