Review of Getting Things Done by David Allen

Short Summary of Getting Things Done

What do I like most? The book helps a person to understand and apply the improvisation plan in getting things done. 

The book in a nutshell

A person needs to manage the open loops in one’s life to control attention. One must remain clear about the intended outcome of an action. One needs to transform all accumulated knowledge into an actual inventory of meaningful activities, projects, and usable information.

The Stress caused among people comes from an appropriately managed commitment one accepts or makes. So unless the things belong to where they should be is an open-loop which may pull one’s attention. The mind must delete the unnecessary stuff from the mind. Often the reason is not clarified about the intended outcome of an action. 

The human brain and thoughts work wonderfully when the clarified thoughts and decisions are made. One can access the data stored in one’s mind only when stored systematically. The optimal use of energy, time is necessary that some progress is achieved. Hence, all the thoughts and knowledge accumulated must have an inventory. The two essential components for getting things done are; (a) Outcome (b) Action.

There is a need to control commitments, projects, and actions in two ways:

a) Horizontally- bringing coherence in all the activities in which one is involved.

b) Vertically – management of thoughts, development, and coordination of individual topics and projects. Thus the essential role of horizontal and vertical goals is to get things done.

How to master workflow?

Capture; collect what has one’s attention. 

Clarify: what the process means

Organize: to put the things where they belong,

Reflect: frequent review

Engage: doing what is the necessary

The capturing phase: the open-loop must be in the capture system and out of one’s head. There must capture buckets and empty the capturing buckets at regular intervals.

The seven steps to manage the organization and operational goals are:

(a) A projects list

(b) Project support material 

(c) Calendar actions and information.

(d) Next actions lists 

(e) Awaiting for the list 

(f) Reference material 

(g) Maybe list

Organizing is essential for the reduction of cognitive load. 

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Dave Peterson
Dave Peterson
Be a little better today than yesterday.


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