David Allen's "Getting Things Done" - anyone using this system?

by jonb
10 replies
OK, I've decided to get myself organized -- no easy task as I'm straight up right-brained and am big on "piling" rather than filing.

So, after many recommendations, I bought David Allen's "Getting Things Done" and, quite frankly, felt like punching somebody about halfway through. (I didn't though ) I'm sure there's a great system somewhere in this book, but I found it convoluted and hard to pin down.

He provides a nice flowchart for how to categorize things, tells you to pull all your loose info together in a big "in box" and... Well, that's where I got utterly lost. All I wanted was something like Have X number of filing cabinet drawers, one marked "(name)", the other marked "(name)" etc. In the first filing drawer, put (whatever)....

But, as far as I can tell, he never does that. Rather, he continually goes off on tangents about project reviews, workflows and a bunch of other stuff that made my eyes glaze over.

So, can anyone out there share the physical layout of their filing system based on this book? I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.....
#allen #david #getting things done #system
  • Profile picture of the author USGTMauthor
    I m in the time management space. I used the GTD system and found it too cumbersome and actually cost me more time than it saved. I wrote two ebooks on TM which you can get for free no opt-in on my blog. The Simple Guide to TM is like a GTD lite. The Ultra Simple Guide to TM is also a simple system. I also have a article on Ehow on how to use a steno notebook to go even simpler, but it is currently unavailable as I edited it. Please aak any questions on the topic.

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  • Profile picture of the author Phillips Pierce
    I use a stripped down variation of it combined with techniques from Eben Pagans Wake up Productive. You have to keep in mind that Allen works with fortune 500 executives and Get Things done is primarily aimed at that group, not you or me. Nevertheless some of the filing suggestions etc are very practical.

    Not really a course on organization in the strictest sense of the word but I find that WUP has been the most effective and flexible course on productivity and time management I've ever gone though. I would recommend it to any IM as it has really boosted my results significantly.
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  • Profile picture of the author careybaird
    The GTD system is a good idea, but essentially it is built for office workers who push paper, have lots of interruptions, emails etc. and not made for internet workers like ourselves.

    That being said it is well worth a read. Anything you don't agree with, don't bother (for me contexts is a waste of time because most of everything I do is here at my desk or on my laptop).

    Some of the best points from GTD for me:

    Inbox - If you have an idea, someone asks you something etc. just write it on a sticky note and put it in an "inbox". Don't stop what your currently doing. Check this inbox once a day and either do it (if it takes only a few minutes) or add it to your todo lists.
    Weekly Review - Sitting down once a week and going through your current projects, goals, todo lists etc. is unbelievably productive. Do it on a Monday and it gives you a great start to the week and keeps you focused.
    Minimise Distractions - Check your emails twice a day. Don't have your email auto checking. Shut down messenger if you dont need it. Turn off your phone and let calls go to voicemail.
    Someday/Maybe - The idea of putting potential projects to one side and doing them someday or maybe is a good idea to keep us focused. We all have so many ideas that it is often our problem to concentrate on one thing. Put project ideas, stalled projects etc. on a "Someday/Maybe" list and review it once every couple of weeks so that you can work on what your doing at the moment.

    Hope that helps!

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  • Profile picture of the author jazbo
    Sounds hideously complicated. The bottom line is unless you have your mind the right focus then no system for time management etc will work.
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  • Profile picture of the author AwesomePossum
    I'm going to completely agree with Phillips here.

    Wake-Up Productive is incredibly good....it'll take you to the next level...with that said I'm only on week 7 : p...half way through it.

    Also, I think an organization system should be set up like this:

    Categories: Copywriting, Outsourcing, Marketing Strategy, Business Psychology, PPC, etc
    -Notes on specific products you've gone through.
    -Methodologies & Blueprints--This is the live application of your strategies...
    -Ideas--Pretty simple. Just new ideas that you get in the spurt of the moment on a topic...I dedicate a day every other week on how to implement new ideas into my methodologies and blueprints.

    In my personal opinion the #1 key in organization is to understand how everything fits together...in your life and in your business....if you're not using it then why the heck is it there? It's a waste of space and a waste of time....then you just work on piecing everything together until it becomes one whole...

    That's the only way to get organized...

    This is all my personal view though...I'm pretty sure I haven't found an expert that says the same...I just through out how I do it all...it really keeps my mind calm and flowing. It doesn't jump everywhere.

    Hope you found something in here that you could use to help you,

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  • Profile picture of the author chattervine
    you'll get satisfy to have such a lot thing to learn..
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  • Profile picture of the author darthdeus
    GTD is pretty complicated, but it can be boiled down to one simple thing. Write down the next step. If you know what the next step for your project is (eg. call someone, send an email), you're going to do it. But what after you finish it? Write down the next step again! rinse & repeat
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  • Profile picture of the author Danny_C
    I just recently started using a slightly modified (for my purposes) version of GTD, and so far it's changed things quite a bit for the better. It's not convoluted... it just takes a little more initial setup than other systems. Once you have your system setup, it's extremely simple.

    In fact, I started using Remember the Milk to implement the system after reading this article:

    Guest Post: Advanced GTD with Remember The Milk - Remember The Milk Blog

    Now I have RTM on my Android phone and can view my tasks by context even when I'm out.
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  • Profile picture of the author USGTMauthor
    The problem with many time management systems is that they are one size fits all. I think people should try to figure out their deficiencies and then see if a system fixes them. If you are forgetful, you need to write things down. If you need to be more focused you may need to plan your day in writing before you start work. To undertake GTD which the author admits takes two years to master if you don't need a complicated system is a waste of time. Look for the simplest system that solves your problem. My blog has a few simple systems which solve project management, time management and organization problems. All of the TM stuff is free. I put a new system up this evening. Good luck
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