Friday, August 8, 2008

Getting Things Done - David Allen


I have been procrastinating in writing blog lately. Especially it's been a while since my last post. I sincerely apologized about this. Considering the number of events unfolding in my life at this moment, I hope you all can forgive me and wait a little bit longer for me in releasing those review.

I would say this book is THE book for the art of time management. Perhaps you may heard about Stephen Covey's book titled "First Things First" and many other time management title. The book highlights the importance of urgent and important. As we all know, things is not as black and white in most case. It can be gray at times and therefore I think the way David Allen handled it is much better.

Here are some of the important contents

Managing Commitment
1. It's in your mind. Anything you can't finished must be captured in a system outside your mind. You need to regularly search and sort through
2. Clarify your commitment and decide what to do. Make progress towards fulfilling it
3. Once you've decided on all the actions you need to take, you must keep reminders of them organized in a system you review regularly

Key to managing stuff is managing your actions

Getting it out of your head - Whenever possible, do not use your mind as the place to store your things to do/list/commitment. Instead commit to a system that you can rely 100% upon . That way, you can freed up your mind to do more creative/productive thing.

5 stages of mastering workflow
1. Collect
2. Process
3. Organize
4. Review - Do that once a week preferably before start of the week
5. Do
Important thing is to make sure everything are collected, processed, action and reviewed regularly.

Next Action

Any longer than 2 minute, nondelegatable action you have identified and to be tracked . To tracked that, you put it in the "Next Action" (NA). If you have a lots of NA, it's best to list that in categories like @Call, @Shopping etc.

6 level model for reviewing your own work
In order to know your priorities are, you have 6 different perspective what define that.
50 000+ feet : Life - Big picture view. The primary purpose for anything provides the core definition of what it's work really is. All the goals, visions, objectives, projects and actions derive from this.
40 000 feet : 3 - 5 year vision - Think about bigger categories i.e. long term career, family and financial goals. Decisions at this altitude could easily change what your work might look like on many levels
30 000 feet : 1 - 2 year goals - Stage where meeting the goals and objective of your job require a shift in emphasis of your job focus, with new areas of responsibility emerging
20 000 feet : Areas of responsibility - These are the key areas within which you want to achieve results and maintain standards
10 000 feet : Current projects - relatively short term outcomes you want to achieve
Runway: Current actions - list of all your action you take

Common categories of Action Reminders

In defining on next action categories, there's few that we are usually
1. @Calls
2. @Computer
3. @Errand
4. @Office - reminder for office action i.e. photostating, claims
5. @Home
6. @Agenda - People meet up or meeting action item
7. @Review - document read up or research

Organizing via E-mail systems
1. Have folder that starts with - or @ for action, waiting for, pending etc
2. Have e-mail you've sent out to be copied to certain folder for follow up
3. Getting your Inbox empty

Tickler File

The tickler file is a file folder consists of 43 sub folder (1-31 and Jan-Dec). It's a 3D version of a calendar. By having this, you can automatically remind yourself by putting the item to specific future month or the day within the month and able to track your stuff. Say for example you have a bill to be paid at 15th this month and the current day is 8th, then when 15th arrived, you can look at that 15th folder and know that you have bill to be paid.

Weekly Review
1. It's an activity to empty your head every week
2. You make a few hours of block time to review all those next actions, waiting for, someday/maybe, projects etc.

Mind like water
In time management, once you mastered this, you can react to anything that throw at you and respond accordingly, you've mastered the art of time management. Just like the water respond to a pebble thrown to it.

In essence, David is a big proponent of 2 minute rule. If you can finish a task within that limit, by all means complete that. If not, delegate, defer or drop it.

For those who know about Getting Things Done, it was called as GTD. There's a lot of fan out there supporting the GTD movement namely Yahoo groups. Even David himself have a portal on the GTD information where he regularly releases audio, short notes etc on personal productivity.

All in all, I would give 8.5 out of 10 for this book. The book gives a good overview on time management. It's a concept that's workable and useful to all executive out there. I recommend this to everyone who think that time is not enough and you seems to be busy all the time.

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