Thoughts on "Getting Things Done"

2017-02-09 Tags: books

I finally finished reading "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. This has been on my reading list for years so I am glad that I finally got a chance to scratch it off of that list. Overall, it was a good read and I learned how to approach an overwhelming number of tasks with Allen's proven methodology. My biggest takeaways from the book were:

  1. Get things out of your head and somewhere where you will look at them later. Big or small, short or tall, write it down.
  2. Identify what success, or "done" actually looks like right away.
  3. Identify the next step instead of worrying about the scope of a large project.

I've been using Kanboard to manage my day to day work for both professional and personal projects. Before that, when I was using OS X I used a program called OmniFocus which does an amazing job at allowing you to capture items from any context. Using a simple shortcut (Super + Space) it let you get things out of your brain quickly.

No other tool that I know of does this, and its a real shame because the biggest barrier to feeling relaxed about the pile of things you have to do is being able to trust that a specific item is going to be looked at again from any context. When adding a task to an app feels like work (i.e you have to go to a webpage, open an app, etc) then you may not do it.

I attempted to reproduce the magic of OmniFocus with a simple desktop app that I wrote called TaskAdder. When mapped to a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + Space for me) it lets you add a task to your Kanboard from any context. Using this app for the last few weeks while reading GTD has changed my life.

Overall, the book was great. My only gripe is that it was a bit verbose. Many chapters repeated the same ideas, and the same examples. In addition, although these methods could apply to any human being a lot of the examples and anecdotes that Allen offers come from big wig executives who have secretaries, offices, and enough money to afford his one on one consulting work. My eyes began to roll after the third time that I was reminded to talk to my secretary (which I have never had) about helping me with my workflow.

If you don't like reading verbose books, I still think that looking into the GTD methodology is worth doing. The main website is full of great examples, diagrams, and resources.