Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

ISBN 0670899240 There are lots of books about how to get ahead in business when you're a leader in your organization. But what if you're not a CEO or a manager? This book provides practical advice on how to make changes in your organization and in your own work life, even if you're at the bottom of the org chart.

Part of CategoryBooks, a TimeManagement book.

Here's a summary of the methodology from his followup book, ReadyForAnything?:

Get everything out of your head. Make decisions about actions required on stuff when it shows up — not when it blows up. Organize reminders of your projects and the next actions on them in appropriate categories. Keep your system current, complete, and reviewed sufficiently to trust your intuitive choices about what you're doing (and not doing) at any time. (p.16)

It should be noted that this book basically turns you into a living MicroKernel. ;)

You keep a collection of lists close at hand, for dealing with various things. It's really an amazing and interesting system. I used it at a workplace, and have a totally clean desk, the whole time.

See also

The FortyThreeFolders website discusses this method extensively from a perspective more akin to developers'. Among other things, it discusses the use of index cards for list management. My question is: does this method mesh well with ExtremeProgramming?

I've been using a wiki to keep that collection of lists, printing them out occasionally as the day dictates. In a group wiki, it's really handy to have other people see over your shoulder what your plans and action items are, so they don't need to bug you to remember stuff. -- EdwardVielmettti?

One of the problems I find trying to use a personal wiki for todo lists is that prioritizing them does not sort them automatically. You have to manually cut and paste which wastes more time than keeping them on a computer saves. Combine that with the fact that I would like to keep the "master" list on my palm. There are some palm/desktop wiki combos I have read about, but still currently the best way I have found so far is to use excel, since you can sort and even draw arrows between related tasks, but again this is difficult on a palm, and excel is still too freeform. Most built-in task managers have no more than 5 levels of priority, so you end up with 5 "chunks" of unsorted todos. After so many generations of handhelds and scheduling software, why is it still not possible yet to have software in your pocket that truly automates these time management systems? I need to read the book above but if they are suggesting using a paper notebook that won't work as carrying around a palm, cellphone, bluetooth earpiece etc leaves no more space in one's pockets (and flies in the face of OnceAndOnlyOnce).

Interesting comments. Integration is certainly important. To that effect, I'm interested in mixing the concepts of wiki and post-it notes (Tomboy already does this), with mind mapping (there's Freemind that can work with some wiki, but alas, it's Java!). In terms of mind mapping, it should be added to Tomboy, and Tomboy should interface properly with any gadget imaginable. :) -- AndreasVc

I subscribe to a number of lists where GettingThingsDone is mentioned peripherally. From the remarks of those who recommend it, use of Palm gadgets is encouraged. You may find this worthwhile (via

See also: GettingThingsDoneSystems


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