I'm not sure if you know this, but Albert & I are both business majors. Our passions are business and technology and helping making your business better through the use of technology. Since our customers are all businesses, I thought it might be helpful to share some of our favorite business or technology-related books. Every other month or so, you will see a book review from Al or I on a topic of interest to business owners. I'm VERY excited to share our first book review on what I consider a classic -- Getting Things Done.
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I have been a Getting Things Done enthusiast since I first read the book close to a decade ago. I was working in a corporate environment and successfully used this system for my work. Then I stayed home to have kids and I just didn't have enough brain power left to figure out how GTD could work at home; babies are by nature unpredictable! I did eventually find someone who broke it down for moms and I changed everything. Now that I'm working from home for ACS, I find that Getting Things Done is finally fully working for me.
Getting Things Done is essentially a productivity book. I've read dozens of productivity books over the years and none of them are like this one. The biggest difference is that it doesn't JUST tell you how to prioritize, or how to manage your email. Instead David Allen sets up a decision-making framework for dealing with EVERYTHING that rolls around in your brain.
There is a little bit of organizational detail in dealing with your email and paper, but he describes a whole different way of thinking about your life. In the first section, he speaks to people just like you and I -- people whose responsibilities are numerous and flow over the boundaries of "work" and "home" since both can happen at anytime. He shares an overview of both his system for all the items that we have to process in a day and his system for working on projects that require more than one step. The second part is the gem of the book.
Once he's explained an overview of the system, then he gets down to the nuts and bolts of how it works. First, he shares how to set up your time, space and tools. It does require some work, I won't lie. But it is SOOOOOOOO worth the effort. And once you set it up and get used to how it works, if you fall off the wagon it's not as big a deal. It doesn't require quite so much time to set back up because it totally changes how you think about things--even if you are not fully utilizing it, I bet some of your processes will stay set up that way. Ask me how I know. Ahem.
Then he shares how to corral all your stuff (collection), processing it all, and organizing it efficiently. These are the sections that tell you how to deal with your mail, email, phone calls, etc. He goes on to talk about reviewing your system, which is a huge component that lets you keep all those balls you juggle in the air. No other book I've ever read has talked about the importance of this. He also talks about making the best choices (Doing) and a little more about projects.
In the last section, he discusses the importance of the collection, next-action and outcome focusing habit. It's kind of a high-level overview of how and perhaps more importantly, WHY, you are doing all the processes he outlines in section two. Long story short, I highly recommend this book. If you frequently find yourself forgetting things or not getting to things you want to do or even are having trouble balancing "work" and "home," this book could change your life.
It's not just an organization, "here's how to set up your filing system" kind of a book. It's more of a here's how to live life and do as much of the good stuff (Quadrant 1 for the FC fans) as possible kind of a book. Really, really fabulous and essential for business owners who are trying to run a business, manage employees, raise kids, work on committees and just do as much as possible in a day. Getting Things Done is the book for you!
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If I've piqued your interest, but you still aren't sure, you can check out these resources for more information.
Amazon -- has Getting Things Done on Kindle, CD/Audiobook, Paperback and Hardcover (I've bought it 3 times -- it's that good!).
A great article on GTD's FAQ's from Leo over at ZenHabits --Summarizes what it realistically takes to start for us mere mortals.
A Google search will reveal thousands of people sharing what they use to make GTD work for them.
What works for you?
Jen Steed writes about technology, travel and more. You can find her writing for various online and print publications. To talk to Jen or see all of her articles as they are published, you can follow Jen on Google+.