Good Reads: Getting Things Done by David Allen

Getting Things Done was on my booklist to read in 2011, and, considering the name, I figured I actually better finish reading it this year. :)

I was expecting to be overwhelmed with guilt by the book–feeling like I had to set up all these new processes and procedures in order to get my life in order. However, I was really encouraged to realize that I’ve unintentionally set up processes and procedures for many areas of my life that are working quite well.

Everything in my office has a place and everything in it serves a specific purpose. I have a process for mail, a process for email, and a process for dealing with paper clutter and stuff clutter.

So I was excited to realize that there’s no need to overhaul something that’s already working well most of the time. Instead, I just need to work on tweaking and refining these processes so that they serve me even better.

That said, reading this book helped me to realize very clearly that my paper planner system is no longer working well for me and that’s likely one of the reasons my head has been spinning so much recently. My home management binder has been great for a daily to-do list and overview, but, with the increased business responsibilities on my plate in the last few months, I need to be able to have a running to-do list of business projects and I also need to be able to schedule out projects, to-do’s, and reminders days, weeks, and months ahead of time.

Since my husband manages a busy law firm and has to schedule out and keep on top of all sorts of client stuff and court appearances, he’s been helping me think through what would work best for me. I think I’m going to try a paperless system using a combination of Google Calendars and the Reminders app and To-Do app.

I’ve resisted the paperless approach for so long, as I’m such a visual, write-it-down-on-paper gal, but I think perhaps the time has come to break out of my rut and go paperless. I’m at least going to try and will let you know how it ends up going!

Two Key Points I Picked Up From the Book:

Write Everything Down

I think one of the biggest reasons I’ve felt like my brain is overloaded recently is because I’ve not been dumping enough information out of it. I’ll think of something I need to remember and, instead of writing it down on my to-do list, I’ll tell myself, “Don’t forget that.”

Getting Things Done strongly encourages you to get stuff out of your brain and onto paper or your computer or handheld device. If you capture and store the information in a trusted system, it not only guarantees that you won’t forget it, but it also frees up brain space! Plus, instead of having to remind yourself ten times about something you need to remember, you can just write it down once and forget about it until you need to deal with it.

Follow the 2-Minute Rule

As I’ve confessed before, I tend to be a procrastinator. Getting Things Done encourages you to immediately do any project that can be done in less than two minutes.

Instead of thinking repeatedly about how you need to make that appointment, just pick up the phone and make the appointment. Rather than leaving an email in your inbox and looking at it multiple times, just answer it as soon as it comes in.

I know that following this rule would help me keep on top of all those little jobs much more efficiently and effectively. Instead of continuously putting off little jobs or writing them down onto my to-do list, I should just do the job and get it done.

I thought some parts of Getting Things Done felt overly complicated and some parts I felt like the pace of the book was dragging along too slowly. In addition, since my copy was the 2001 version, the technology referred to was outdated (anyone remember Palm Pilots?), but overall I felt this book is well worth reading if you are struggling with feeling overwhelmed with life–especially if you are a professional or own your own business.

Also read this week: Benjamin Rush by David Barton and Personal Investing: The Missing Manual.

And I’m excited because I ended up finishing my entire 2011 booklist and reading a total of 60 books in 2011, plus reading through the Chronological Bible Plan. Now onto my 2012 booklist!

Have you read any good books recently?

(Note: The Amazon.com links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

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