Saturday, 14 June 2008

Getting Things Done: review

Coping with chaos without losing your way
Martin Locock

Title: Getting Things Done
How to achieve stress-free productivity
Author: David Allen
Publisher: Piatkus
Price: £10.99
ISBN: 978-0-7499-2264-1

Most management gurus sound a little detached from the reality of the modern workplace, at best providing some evangelical zeal to revive the fire of inspiration in their readers. David Allen isn't like that: he connects with managers' actual concerns: too many tasks and too little time, piles of papers awaiting action, and lists of thing to do that never get ticked off because of interruptions. He argues that your effectiveness as a decision-maker is undermined by the worry and guilt arising from these 'open loops' (incomplete commitments), and his solution is to transfer this load onto paper, where you can see it and manage it. It's a bit more complex than that, but in essence he says that skills of filing and listing lie at the heart of coping with a large and changing workload without stress.

It is refreshing to see a set of rules that embody instinctive truths: the two minute rule that says if it will take less than two minutes to deal with, do it now, and the 'waiting for' file for tasks which cannot progress until someone else has done something, and which can therefore be ignored for now. There are also refreshing hints like: don't just write in your diary 'phone Jean': write her number as well so you don't have to search for it.

This is an enjoyable and inspiring book for anybody who feels that constant change and competing demands for attention have left them lost and ineffective.

[This will appear in Catalyst, Summer 2008]

Buy the book from Amazon