I just finished reading the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. As the title indicates this is a book about re-gaining control of one’s life through high-performance workflow management. There are two key objectives upon which this is based: “(1) capture all the things that need to get done – now, later, someday, big, little, or in between – into a logical and trusted system outside of your head and off your mind; and (2) disciplining yourself to make front-end decisions about all of the “inputs” you let into your life that you will always have a plan for “next actions” that you can implement or renegotiate at any moment.”
The author then goes one to describe the five stages of mastering workflow:
(1) “collect things that command our attention”
(2) “processs what they mean and what to do about them”
(3)”organize the results, which we”
(4)”review as options for what we choose to”
The above seems rather straightforward and we all perform the above steps in some way shape or form. The key here is to perform all these steps consistently and with the same standard. After all the workflow is only as efficient as the weakest of the steps. David then goes on to describe each stage in detail to help the reader better understand it, and help her to implement techniques and tools to make her more efficient within it. Besides discussing individual tasks, the author spends significant time discussing projects – which require multiple tasks to be completed in order to bring them to close. He goes on to describe how these can be managed using the same framework. This enables handling tasks, regardless of size, scope and/or complexity in a standard manner. One thing that sets this book apart is it’s focus just as equally on the “not to do” than on the “to do” – which are fundamentally two sides of the same coin.
Below are some excerpts that I personally found to be very enlightening:
a) “You need no new skills to increase your productivity – just a new set of behaviors about when and where to apply them.”
b) “the sense of anxiety and guilt doesn’t come from having too much to do; it’s the automatic result of breaking agreements with yourself.”
c) “Organizations must create a culture in which it is acceptable that everyone has more to do than he or she can do, and in which it is sage to renegotiate agreements about what everyone is not doing.”
d) “Real “togetherness” of a group is reflected by the responsibility that all take for defining the real things to do and the specific people assigned to do them, so everyone is freed of the angst of still-undecided actions.”
e) “Getting things going of your own accord, before you’re forced to by external pressure and internal stress, builds a firm foundation of self-worth that will spread into every aspect of your life. You are the captain of your own ship; the more you act from that perspective, the better thing will go for you.”
A very highly recommended read in the area of personal productivity. The advice given in the book is very practical and pragmatic. I have personally adopted the workflow described and have already noticed significant improvement in my personal productivity.