David Allen & “Getting Things Done”

Review: Getting Things Done by David Allen:

Getting Things Done on Doug's Audible
Getting Things Done on Doug’s Audible – Narrated by Dr. David Allen

The Getting Things Done system is pretty great.

Dr. Allen narrates his own book, which is almost always a plus.  Personal author narration done right can add a great deal of depth and appropriate emphasis to the important parts of a book on Audible.

Excellence and Immediate Results:

The excellent results appear almost immediately.  The difficulty is that a few times I started to overwhelm myself with the lists.  I need to carefully strike a balance between working my lists while not becoming bogged down and balancing the recording against the execution of those tasks.

Doug’s Key Takeaway:

The key takeaway for me was that while I LOVE the Getting Things Done system of removing stray thoughts from my head by accounting for them on a list.  I hate how easy it is to get lost in the list-making, thereby breaking the Army execute violently and doing something rule.

Doug's Getting Things Done List
A Quarter of Doug’s Weekly Getting Things Done List

Using this Getting Things Done system you can either unlock your creative potential or plunge down the mental masturbation road!  Dr. Allen even warns about getting lost in the minutia and never executing your listed tasks

The Getting Things Done Professional Summary:

“Getting Things Done” is a productivity and time management book written by David Allen. The book provides a comprehensive system for organizing tasks and information to increase productivity and reduce stress. Here’s a summary of the key concepts from the book:

  • Capture:

    • Allen stressed the importance of capturing all your tasks, ideas, and commitments in an external system. This means getting everything out of your head and written down on a to-do list.
  • Clarify:

    • After you have captured everything, you clarify what each item represents and your next action.  You quickly decide if this task will take a few minutes, or with a more complex project that needs smaller steps.
  • Organize:

    • Organize your clarified tasks and projects into categories or lists.  Allen suggests using a system of lists, such as Next Actions (tasks you can immediately act on), Projects (larger undertakings with multiple tasks), Waiting For (items you’re waiting for from others), and Someday/Maybe (things you might want to do in the future).  This is the part of the system that I find overwhelming and an interference with execution because it is easy for me to become bogged down in the writing and minutia.

      Warren Buffets Ten Rules
      See Rule #3 About Thumbsucking – Warren Buffet’s Ten Rules
  • Reflect:

    • Regularly review your lists and commitments to ensure that you’re staying on top of your priorities. Allen recommends weekly reviews to update and refine your task lists.
  • Engage:

    • Engage with your tasks and projects with a clear mind by using your organized system to determine what to work on next based on context, time, and energy levels.  The idea is to make decisions from the list quickly and spend little mental energy between finishing tasks.
  • Contexts:

    • Allen also introduces the concept of “contexts,” which involve categorizing tasks based on where and when you can complete them most effectively.  This helps you choose tasks that match your current environment or available resources, though I am really bad at doing this part of the plan!
  • Two-Minute Rule:

    • If a task can be completed in two minutes or less, do it immediately.  This prevents thumbsucking and being overwhelmed by small tasks that literally take longer to write down than to complete.

“Getting Things Done” is great for anyone looking to improve their time management and productivity.  The Getting Things Done system offers a structured approach to task management.  It can help you regain control over your work and personal life by reducing stress and increasing productivity.

Getting Things Done on Audible For Me

I finished Getting Things Done on Audible four or five times now.

Every time my brain gets cluttered, I cue it up.  I get back into the techniques, clean up my brain, and unleash my creativity again.  It is just fantastic.  I just need to keep the discipline of doing it all the time.

Getting Things Done Applied To Stories:

Getting Things Done, by David Allen is not only one of my favorite self-improvement/self-help books of all time, but it is my excuse for these ‘new stories’ (see above writing meme 😉 ) taking up such a chunk of the overall catalog.

Stories In The Head:

As David Allen describes, the story ideas rattling around in your head while writing are ‘Open Loops’.

The R.G. Taark & A.U. Link stories are not bad by themselves.  Neither are my more seriously-minded Doug Franklin projects.  The problem happens when large parts of those stories start to build up and take up thinking space inside my head.  Dr. Allen at one point in his book describes this as ‘too many windows open slowing down your mental computer.’

I often have five thousand words of dialogue representing a chapter crammed into my head.  Plus your day’s list of stuff to do.  And then the things wifey is asking you to finish.  And then get all that straight and receive a phone call that knocks that mental organization over like a Jenga block tower in front of a drunk!

Spaghetti For Brains:

Another way to visualize your brain is as a bowl of spaghetti noodles.  The pasta is all those stray thoughts: ‘book idea’, ‘I need to pee’, ‘Oh, wait, call ma!’, ‘buy kid #3’s birthday present’ ‘pay bills’ ‘let’s go out to dinner tonight need to call…’.  All those thoughts float around twisty and in the way of your creativity.  Somewhere at the bottom of your bowl is that all-important meatball that you REALLY want, that ‘book idea’.

Using the ‘Getting Things Done‘ techniques you quickly remove those stray thoughts.  Make lists of the larger projects, that will allow your brain to account for those and get them out of your thought scroll.  The quick things like ‘need to pee’ that will take less than five minutes just do them and stop thinking about those distractions for good.  Because it will take you longer to write it down than to just do it.

Conclusion: Getting Things Done

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants productivity and effective time management.  The results I see using my lightweight version of this system are nothing short of amazing.  The minor investment of your time will pay massive dividends elsewhere in your life.

Have a great day!


  • Doug

Doug F

Dad. Little green Army guy. Over-thinker. All I want out of life is an honest week's pay for an honest day's work!

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