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Issue 6.1


Book: Getting Things Done

Issue: 6.1 (November/December 2007)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,080
Starting Page Number: 9
Article Number: 6104
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In the days of manual labor, it was easy to see what work needed to be done or tell when it was finished. But for today's "knowledge worker," especially computer programmers working in a virtual world, handling complex projects while keeping on track with email, meetings, and day-to-day life is challenging. Fortunately, author David Allen is here with philosophies that will help you "get things done."

The fundamental principle in GTD is that keeping track of "To Dos" in your head is a terrible idea: while your conscious mind might not be thinking of all the "incompletes" in your life, your subconscious mind is constantly worrying about them. This is why you may feel overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, and unable to enjoy free time because you feel guilty of all the "stuff" you should be doing.

Allen's solution is to offload task tracking to a paper- or electronic-based management system. This frees your subconscious from worry and allows your brain to concentrate on creative ideas.

GTD is not a canned solution or cheap gimmick: it is philosophies and proven techniques that will make you more productive. You are free to adopt the ideas into your life in whatever manner works for you. The system is flexible, which means it can work for anyone. For instance, a key concept is the "weekly review" where you have a set time each week to go over the system to make sure you're keeping up with it. This allows you see if aspects aren't working for you so you can fix them, instead of abandoning the attempt at organization (what usually happens).

Another critical technique is reducing complex tasks to "the next physical action" -- this greatly simplifies what often feels like an overwhelming project and you make progress instead of getting nothing done. Too often our tasks are vague ("Fix bugs in new version!") instead of specific ("Fix footer alignment problem on odd number pages in printing routine"), which makes it hard to get motivated.

Allen doesn't forget the big picture either: his system includes periodic checks of long-term dreams and goals as well as day-to-day aspects of life.

If you've struggled with getting organized or are overwhelmed by too much email and other chaos in your life, you need to read this book. The techniques are simple but powerful; the book inspired me to do a two-week all-out cleanup of my entire house, including processing through decades worth of junk in my garage. With that load off my mind, I've no doubt my productivity will increase dramatically.

End of article.