Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Category: Skills
Author: David Allen, James Fallows
This Month Reddit 3


by quaunaut   2022-11-17
I'm a software engineer, but these have been instrumental in my success in a way no coding book can compare to(though John Ousterhout's "A Philosophy of Software Design" would have, if it came out earlier in my life).

Personal time/task management- The classic, Getting Things Done( The power this has on people cannot be understated. Turns out that most of how life is conducted is rife with forgetfulness, decision paralysis, prioritization mistakes, and massive motivation issues. This book gives you specific workflows to cut through these in a magical way.

Personal Knowledge Management- The equally classic, How to Take Smart Notes( Where GTD(above) does this for well-defined tasks/work, this book does it for open-ended work, giving you an amazing workflow for introducing "Thinking by Writing", which is frankly a superpower. This lets you see things your friends/colleagues simply won't, lets you deconstruct your feelings better, learn new/deeper subjects faster, and connect thoughts in a way to produce real insight.

For Product/Business Management, Gojko Adzic's "Impact Mapping"( feels like it could make nearly every software team/business 10x better by just reading this book. I've personally watched as enormous portions of my life were spent on things that barely moved the needle for companies, or merely didn't keep the metric from rising. So many projects taken on faith that if you work on X, X will improve, without ever measuring, or asking if you could have accomplished that with less. The world looks insane afterward.

by brentajones   2019-07-21

The newest edition of Getting Things Done is from 2015. There was a “Getting Things Done For Teens” that came out in 2018. There’s also a “Getting Things Done Workbook” with a release date later in 2019.

If you’re looking for the main book, the 2015 edition is the one to get.

by zekthedeadcow   2019-07-21

I will recommend a couple general business books that helped me


As a an intro to setting up and administering an office I would suggest

Get Things Done by David Allen


For the business of business I would suggest an old one

The Entrepreneurs Manuel... I have the 1977 edition and it is pretty brutally honest with some concepts that don't get talked about because they are ethically shady... or can generate so many ideas that a company can get overloaded. This is actually originally a Chilton Manual... and is now reprinted by a different company... and is apparently a poor reprint quality so try to get a copy off ebay



there's many others as I pick things up at thrift stores and random books will have a good idea or two...such as

I rate my clients

'A' : make referrals

'B' : pay on time and are normal clients

'C' : Have 'warning signs' but are otherwise 'B' clients. ie. Asks for discounts. Slow payer. etc

'D' : Drop. Demands discounts or asks for ethically shady work.

by kaidomac   2019-07-21

That's pretty much the whole premise of the GTD book:

  1. Get everything off your head & into a trusted external system
  2. Clarify all tasks into next-action items to work against

Because otherwise, you have to mentally juggle an endless assortment of undefined tasks, which results in stress, anxiety, and procrastination. It's also hard to manage things you can't see...when they're in your head, they're invisible, but when you stick next-action items on lists & calendars, you can easily prioritize them by context, time required, energy required, and importance because they're "real", because they're written down & in front of your eyes.

Living & working off a list of next-actions is a huge gamechanger, because you don't have to sit there & figure out what to do are constantly working off a list of actionable tasks, which reflects how we operate as humans, which is: we can only do specific things. As the author of GTD puts it, you can't actually do a project, you can only do actions related to a project, and when enough of those actions are completed, then you call the project "done", which is a pretty weird way to look at managing & completing projects, but is actually the most effective way to tackle them, because then you're constantly plowing away on next-action items & are actually making progress towards the completion of the project.

Anyway, the concept of "next-action items" is fairly obviously once you understand them, but are not really intuitive until you realize what you're missing & adopt them into your workflow. That, combined with capturing 100% of your commitments into an external system means that (1) you never forget ANYTHING, and (2) that you ALWAYS know EXACTLY what to do next. GTD has really cracked that foundational-level code for getting & staying 100% on top of everything in your life!

by kaidomac   2019-07-21

>how to maintain focus

Adopt GTD. Read this:

In summary:

  1. In order to focus, you need to know what to do
  2. In order to know what to do, you need to define what the next action step required is
  3. In order to select a next-action, you need a list of next-actions to select from, and a way to to choose which one to do in the moment
  4. In order to create that list, you need to convert stuff you have to do into next-action items
  5. In order to have stuff to convert, you need to write down the stuff you're on the hook for
  6. In order to have a complete set of options, you need to capture everything you're on the hook for

Kind of hard to focus if you don't have something to focus on. In order to focus, you need to single-task, not multi-task, because then you're not doing a good job & giving that task your full attention. In order to do that, you have to pick something to work on, while ignoring everything else, because otherwise you will get distracted. There's a whole chain of stuff that has to be done in order to be able to truly focus properly; fortunately, someone has already figured that out & published it in a book:

>better absorb and retain information

Read this:

by alekpir   2019-07-21

Your problem is being unorganized. First you need to educate yourself, read the following book (text, audio avail.). David Allen has been writing it for decades and he is definitely the expert on the subject. Made my life easier for sure.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Learn more:

by kaidomac   2019-07-21

There are two things you cannot manage:

  1. Time, because it keeps on coming
  2. Responsibilities, because you have them already

What you can manage, however is:

  • Action

This is an important distinction. You can marshal your internal resources (thinking, speaking, and using your body) to create change in the world, i.e. you can manage your actions. Responsibility-wise & time-wise, you have to go to school & each hour ticks by regardless of anything else, but the way you use your internal resources to take action on your commitments over time is the name of the game.

So what you really need is an effective action-management system. Check out GTD:

GTD is a bulletproof way to manage internal commitments, i.e. the stuff you're on the hook for. It does this in two ways:

  1. You create an external, off-your-brain, outside-of-your-head database for capturing your to-do items & managing them. Basically, this means recognizing that your brain is not very good at being a hard drive to store things or a calendar to remember things; our brain is great for coming up with ideas & for getting into the flow of working on things, so you should let your brain do what it's designed to do, instead of using it as a storage device & a reminder machine.
  2. You convert those to-do items into "next-action" items & put them in the appropriate "buckets" (i.e. a grocery store list for what you need to buy at the store, a list of things to do at school, a list of things to do at home, and so on). This way, you have now created options for things that you can immediately take action on & actually do right away, instead of procrastinating on.

A lot of procrastination comes from simply not knowing what to do next in any given situation. GTD resolves that by:

  1. Giving you a list of next-actions you can physically execute in any given situation.
  2. Giving you a four-step process on how to choose what action to take in the moment.
  3. Saving reminders of those next-actions into the right list (ex. home, work, school, grocery store, calendar, etc.) so that you know what your options are in any given situation (aka "context" - your work context, your school context, etc.).
  4. Having a checklist to convert stuff you capture into next-action items
  5. Having a capture device to jot down all of the stuff you're on the hook for (ex. taking notes at school so that you know what your homework assignments are when you get home).
  6. Making sure that you are 100% captured, that you have EVERYTHING written down that you are on the hook for, so that you don't have any stress at all about forgetting stuff or wondering if you're missing anything.
  7. This creates a "trusted system" that is off your mind & outside of your head, so your brain can give up the job of tracking everything. When you try to track everything mentally, or perhaps use incomplete tools like post-it notes or various apps, it's easy to blow a fuse & go engage in some avoidance behavior because you're on mental information overload. With GTD, you'll be working off a complete (100% captured) list of next-actions by context, i.e. if you're at home, what are you supposed to be doing? Homework, chores, etc. - you'll have a list of things you can actually DO!

Effective time management really just means doing your work first and playing later, and to do your work using an effective action-management system. GTD is the most effective action-management system I'm aware of; it has a bulletproof, complete, A to Z system available for you to use. It's not easy to learn, but if you bother to put in the time & really adopt it as a lifestyle, then you'll have an extremely strong productivity foundation in place for the rest of your life, not just high school!

by b_b   2019-01-15
I would recommend for you to read and implement the organization/productivity system from Getting Things Done by David Allen [0]. It discusses essentially your main problems of dividing up your life into projects and timing yourself. The system also includes sections for putting some of your ideas in an 'Incubate', basically putting it off for another day once you get through what you have. Having a running list of all your commitments and projects like the system does I think will help you to analyze your time usage and realistic expectations for your productivity and stuff you want to engage in.

[0] =

by Amator   2018-11-10

I've been chasing this dragon for a couple of decades now. My results have gotten better over time, but never perfect. My conscientiousness rating is low, but grown a lot of the years, which is normal for human development.

A lot of people are suggesting various techniques like Pomodoro, KonMari, 7Habits, etc. They're all good, but they tend to appeal differently to various people. Personally, I think of organization like weight loss - there are a lot of various methods that can get you to end goal, but some work better for others, even though they all operate on the principle of operating under a caloric deficit.

Before cracking open any recommended books/blogs, I think you should be able to answer these questions about yourself:
1. Do I prefer to keep track of things using analog systems (pen and paper, notebooks, wall calendars), digital apps, or a combination of both?
2. Do I need to also work on organizing with my SO/children/roommate/etc? If so, I should know what system works best for them.
3. Am I the type of person who needs to start with one small improvement at a time and continue to add in new habits, or do I need to jump off the dock and learn to sink or swim by going all-in with a new organizational philosophy?
4. Am I happy with how I spend my days, the times I get up/go to bed, my ratio of work to desired activity to mindless internet/video. Is this something I need to think about changing?
5. What are the three biggest areas of focus that I need to work on first? Dayjob/side-hustle/writing/fitness/spirituality/etc

I think you should answer those five questions and then go visit a library or bookstore and browse through the books that have already been recommended and see what clicks with you. I would add these to the list:
* Getting Things Done - this is a classic book on the subject. It can be a little dated, as it was written for business executives in the late 90s when people had to push around more paper than they do now, but the philosophy behind the examples is still extremely relevant. So much of the later works in the genre are derivative of this one that it's worth time to at least scan this one.
Tools for Titans this is am omnibus of all the tips/tricks that dozens of guests on Tim's podcast have given over the years, including Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Jamie Foxx, Alexis Ohanian, and tons of others. Great to flip through.

Good luck. You'll probably have a big burst of output as you buy a book, read it, and establish a system, but soon the newness will wear from the idea and you might abandon it or try to go back to the well and pick another and start all over. Give yourself permission to fail because every time you improve and then fail, you're failing back to a better place than where you were before. Just keep plugging along, and you'll get more organized, but perhaps never as much as those who have personality types more focused on conscientiousness.

by lehtal   2018-11-10

Didn’t Grey adapt a fair of methods outlined in Getting Things Done ? Someday I’ll finish reading it...