Getting Things Done Book Summary: Effective Time Management

by Accessory To Success December 23, 2020

Getting Things Done Book Summary: Effective Time Management

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Effective Task Management

Getting Things Done by David Allen calls attention to breakthrough techniques for stress-free performance that will transform the way you work. It suggests that our productivity has a direct correlation to our ability to relax. Through providing tips on how to organize your thoughts and clear your mind, it guides you to unleash your creative potential and achieve effective productivity.


Learn To Use Time Effectively

  • Effective time management by sorting out tasks into manageable bits.
  • How to stay focused in changing situations.
  • Conquer feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, indecision, and being overwhelmed.
  • How to plan projects.
  • Feel fine about your list of priorities
Getting Things Done

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Getting Things Done Book Summary

Defining what "done" means and what "doing" looks like is the underlying principles of getting things done. Knowing the "what" and "how-to" ensures you get things done in a much better way than just leaving things to chance. It aims to create a sense of clear and concise direction to take when going about your tasks and the ability to recognize when you're lagging. Another book on productivity is Essentialism.

Mastering your workflow involves identifying and clarifying what has your attention, placing it in its rightful docket, and then reviewing and engaging with it frequently. Doing this so much so that it becomes natural, thereby keeping you grounded and helping you maintain perspective. If you’re not sure how to figure out what to focus on, read the book The ONE Thing.

Dealing with anxiety and guilt. Ensuring you keep agreements with yourself and avoiding procrastination is integral in keeping off anxiety and guilt. Allen suggests that anxiety and guilt do not stem from having an excess of things to do, rather than not doing things at the moment you've defined them. The other book I can strongly recommend on this is How To Stop Stressing And Start Living.

Getting Things Done Book Summary The Art of Stress-Free Productivity Quote 1

Releasing ideas from your mind. By listing down ideas that would otherwise be randomly boggling your mind, you create space for your mind to complete other tasks. It is meant for creating ideas and not hanging onto them.

Mastering workflow involves getting an overview of everything, capturing what needs to be done, and the energy it requires both physically and mentally. You can have notes where you write down items that have to be handled in a certain way. Identifying everything that needs to be done before executing any tasks you may have at hand, ensures effortlessly performing those tasks in the most productive way. The Checklist Manifesto is a great book on this too.


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Processing means emptying your "to-do list" and defining the next achievable action for all the items you have on your list. The next achievable action is a practical action that you can perform to complete a chore. Without defining it, it would be difficult to act on a specific task.

Getting Things Done Book Summary The Art of Stress-Free Productivity Quote 2

When the processing for all actions is done, organizing is done according to Allen's principle of 4D's. Do it, delegate it, delete, or defer. He advises that when a task takes less than 2 minutes to complete, do it immediately. Delegating should be done if you feel someone could do a job faster or better than you, while deferring is for tasks that you can put off to a later date. The book How To Blog For Profit talks a lot about prioritizing your tasks in this way as well.

To constantly liberate your mind and ensure that your productivity is unobstructed, you need a regular confirmation that your system is still working. Daily scrutinizing your tasks ensures that you have defined the right tasks, and you have included everything that needs to be done.

Getting Things Done Book Summary The Art of Stress-Free Productivity Quote 3

The final step includes the criteria with which you decide what task to perform at any given time of day. The context of priority, available time, and energy level can enable you to choose when to do what.

Identifying daily work requires doing work beforehand. When you're doing work beforehand, you're completing work that you have previously established needs to be done. This manages your workflow.

Here is a list of the 25 best planners available, including David Allen's Getting Things Done planners.

New challenges show up daily, and you might need to spend some time and energy tackling these challenges. This will, however, require you to decide whether these challenges are more important than the tasks you had initially designated for these particular times.

Defining your work entails breaking down your tasks into workable portions.

Reviewing Your Work With Horizons of Focus

  • Ground Horizon: This basically is a list of all the actions that should be taken cumulatively.
  • First Horizon: This is a list of things you want to achieve in the short term.
  • Second Horizon: These are projects that you are responsible for or in charge of that you're eventually going to be held accountable for at the end of a specific time period. Either by yourself or someone else. They are also vital areas in your life where you want to achieve and maintain high results and standards.
  • Third Horizon: These are one to two-year objectives about your personal and career growth. Having a clear picture of what you want to have accomplished by then gives you the perspective of what you could change to make them achievable.
  • Fourth Horizon: This is a three-to-five-year goal about the direction your life will have taken from now. Thinking at this level helps you redefine certain projects and take new steps towards moving forward.
  • Fifth Horizon: This involves reviewing whether your current job and lifestyle are in line with your self-identified purpose and if you're operating within your real values.

For more on the stress-free productivity read the book How To Stop Stressing And Start Living.

About The Author David Allen

David Allen is an American productivity consultant and writer who was born on December 28, 1945. His career path has included occupations such as a karate teacher, gas station manager, landscaper, travel agent, restaurant cook, and magician.

Despite being briefly institutionalized due to heroin, he has managed to write books that have guided many to realizing their full potential. He has also written Ready for Anything and Making It All Work.

He is the founder of the David Allen Company, an executive coaching firmandone of the founders of Auctioneer, a company specializing in productivity tools.



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