Getting “Getting Things Done” Done

Sometime, back in  2005, I realized my office was a total mess. I was trying to collect  all of my files for my accountant and it was a major pain in the butt. Stuff was everywhere. I had files and papers stuffed in every space I could find.

I couldn’t take it. I hopped in the car, drove 40 minutes to the closest book store and purchased a copy of David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD). Can you guess what happened next? Being a diligent procrastinator, I gave the  book a quick glance and then it hit my bookshelf only to gather a smooth layer of dust for the next 4 or so years!

Here we are in 2010 and I’m reading 100 of the best business books of all time. The other day I finally got “Getting Things Donedone. 95 Books to go!

Getting Things Done rightfully deserves its spot on the list of 100 best business books of all time. David Allen delivers a solid, concrete, fool-proof system that would allow anyone to make major changes to the way they organize and handle incoming and stress-inducing information.

This is a solid system. David lays it out, step-by-step, while appropriately pointing out the times you may need to make changes in your own system to make it work for you.

This isn’t so much a review because I highly recommend you read the book. There are thousands of summaries to be found online. I’m about eight years late getting on the GTD bandwagon.

Reading this book now makes me think about how beneficial implementing this system could be to children in our education system.

Imagine during the final year of High School that, instead of looking at who said this and who said that back in the 16th century, we taught our students the GTD system. The system is so easy to  understand that we’d be sending our kids into the world as little bad-ass productivity gurus.

Life skills.

The GTD Workflow

If I could implement even  half of what David is saying, it would totally change my life. And I will.

It could change your life as well. Here’s what I realized as the big takeaway from GTD. Sure it would help me clean my office, feel less stress looking at my task list, and keep my inbox tidy, but it would force me to do something far more important.

David explains the amazing relief you’ll experience when you’ve got a system in place that clears your mind of ALL  “to-do related stress.” It can be remarkable. It can be life changing.

Near the end of the book, David really pushes the question, “What’s the next action?” He explains how even just implementing this single question can have a remarkable effect on your life. I remember attending meetings at my 9-5 job in Windsor, Ontario, where we sat for two hours and left without a single defined action step. I’ve talked to others who attend meetings on a daily basis, never to define a “next action step.”

Defining a next action step is a critical component to your success.

Of course, with such a great system, there’s always a catch-22.

The catch  of stress-free productivity is that once you implement the GTD system and you’ve got nothing left on your plate, you’re going to have to ask the question (What’s the next action?) to the hardest person of all…

Yourself.

And if you don’t ask the question, guess where you are? You’re in The Waiting Place.