Getting Things Done


One of the things that I’m constantly attracted to (besides things that remind me of things I’ve done before) is productivity porn. All those nifty gadgets that are supposed to help you get stuff done but never really work.

I think my first official, tangible purchase of productivity porn was a little plastic ‘desk organizer’ that held pens, had slots for envelopes, and square tray for origami paper. It sat abandoned on my desk in Hong Kong surrounded by pencils that never made it into the pen holder, stuffed animals, and filled with unused pastel-colored origami paper. After the move from HK (and subsequent moves), it had an unofficial place directly above my desk and collected surprisingly little dust. I suspect that every night, it reached out for the nearest stuffed animal to use as a duster to maintain its smoky plastic resin translucence. I haven’t unpacked it yet and have no idea where it is at the moment.

Several years later, the latest item is a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen. I’ve been in something of a haze about it all week; since winter break began I’ve been reading the site, wiki, etc. on a daily basis, as well as the book, which was a Christmas gift this year (thanks, Dad!). There are a lot of things to like about the book and system:

  • there is no official system, only principles
  • clear writing style, no fuzziness about what and why he suggests certain things
  • acknowledgment that it’s not perfect, but that it can help
  • very easy to immediately see implications in day-to-day life
  • an encouraging sign about the system is the enormous internet fanbase. 43folders is pretty much the tip of the iceberg and acts as a focal point for Mac-based GTD systems and communities.

Basically, he’s a huge advocate of writing everything down. And then sorting it a particular way. And to sort things, you need projects. And your projects need to be results-oriented. And because you need to see results at different stages, there are varying levels of short and long term goals. And that people forget things (so remind yourself about it by writing everything down. And then sort…)


Funny coincidence -- I just got Getting Things Done for my dad and was thinking of getting myself a copy to read, too... so you recommend it, then?

Yeah, I'd recommend it. Reading through it, a lot of things 'clicked' about why some projects I've worked on in the past didn't work out, and why some of them were reasonable successes. And if nothing else, it's a start on how to organize heaps and heaps of information that's currently just sitting in the universal sorting bin known as the floor.

I didn't write this post! My brother did!

Whoa. Guest posters are confusing. That said: Paul (and everyone else): One word: Tracks. :)

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