Getting Things Done
What will you learn from this summary?
If you live on planet earth, then you have more responsibilities than you can handle. You start your day with a long to-do list that you keep struggling to get done. You feel stressed that you have lost control of your life. Don’t worry because we brought you the solution. This book will teach you how to take back control of your life and get more things done in less time.
Who should read this summary?
• Young professionals
• Hard-working people who want to get more done in less time
• Anyone who wants to be more organized
About the Author
David Allen is a time management consultant. He is famous for creating the time management method known as Getting Things Done. This method has changed the lives of millions of people all over the world. David is the CEO of his coaching firm, which helps companies to spread a mentality of productivity and focus among their employees.
Getting Things Done
Do you have many things to do but little time to do them? Do you wish you could take a break, but you can’t miss a day at work because of your responsibilities? Do you feel stuck and need a long break?
Well, we’ve got you.
This time, we come to you with a book that changed the lives of millions of people.
Due to the stress, we live in, everyone is looking to work harder and get things done in less time. This book has a method that is capable of solving all these problems.
In this book, you will learn how important it is to be organized to avoid distractions. You will realize that the reason you feel like you don’t have enough time is due to having too many distracting thoughts on your mind.
Focus is key, and you need to change your environment to help you focus on your work.
You will also learn how to prepare for the right time, and place and how to choose the right tools for organizing your life. You will start with your physical surroundings, then move on to your mental gathering.
As you know, the brain is always thinking about ideas that you would like to try. When you have a filing system for every idea and every task in your life, you will find your mind calm and ready to focus.
This book will also teach you how to organize your tasks and your projects in categories that boost your productivity.
If you are sick of living a stressful life full of responsibilities, come and join us to learn how to take charge of your life.
A New Practice for a New Reality
Do you think that a person can take control of his long to-do list and still feel relaxed at the end of the day? Yes, it is, and this book will show you how.
Having a system that allows you to work and still be relaxed is essential. In our current time, the definition of what our job is has become unclear. Our jobs are always changing, and new responsibilities are adding up day after day.
In the past, job goals were presented to the employee. Now, it’s up to them to understand what they have to do to get things done by the end of the day. This is a lot of pressure.
You need to change a few habits that you may be doing wrong. First, you need to be clear about what it is that you want to do. If you have an idea, try to write it down clearly and set up a due date for that task. If you don’t, your mind will keep being distracted. You will be thinking about all your tasks, and you won’t be able to focus on the current ones.
Second, try to be 100% focused on the task at hand. To achieve more results during the day, you need to be laser-focused to finish each task faster. When you have a clear vision and a distraction-free work zone, you will be in control, and you will not feel stressed.
For example, let me ask you a question. In the last few minutes, has your mind wandered to a different place while reading this chapter? If yes, then surely there is a task that you want to get done, but you did not take the time to clear it out from your brain.
When you have a task that you decide to do, your brain will keep reminding you of the same task until you get it done. Imagine having ten unfinished tasks; how much distraction will that give you? Surely, it will be difficult for you to concentrate on the task you are doing right now.
The solution to this problem is to write down a list of everything that comes to your mind. Write the task and a follow-up sentence with the details of the task. You also need to set a clear deadline for this task so that your brain can stop worrying about it.
The explanation is simple. If you think of a task that needs to be done and you don’t give it a specific time frame, your brain will think that you need to be doing this task all the time. It is not accomplished yet.
Whenever you are busy doing something else, your brain will keep distracting you and trying to make you do the things your brain believes are more important.
Making a list will help your brain settle down. By the end of every week, try to review this list and make the changes that you need to make.
Unless you keep a clearly defined to-do list, you will find it impossible to concentrate on one task. Remember that focus is key to doing more in less time, without stress.
Getting Projects Creatively Under Way: The Five Phases of Project Planning
In the previous chapter, we talked about the importance of getting things out of your brain to focus on the things that are important to you right now.
Sometimes by keeping a to-do list that we don’t review, we lose a few great ideas that may bring us a lot of success. To avoid this problem, we need to plan.
There are different types of planning. You can use horizontal planning where you set the goal of each task and the actions or steps required to achieve this goal. Usually, this type of planning will require setting visible reminders that will stop you from forgetting the task.
Another type of planning is vertical planning. It requires more focus on details and trying to come up with solutions to achieve every step. This doesn’t mean that you need to sit down and use particular software. You can achieve this by recording it on a piece of paper.
The most effective way of planning, however, is a natural way. Our brain is the most effective planner in the world. Forget about your notebook and your software. Your brain is capable of doing much more useful things.
Natural planning follows five steps. First, you need to plan your goal. Second, you need to have a clear vision of your outcome. Third, you need to start brainstorming ideas. Fourth, you need to organize these ideas. Finally, you need to identify your next course of action.
To explain further, we will take the example of planning your dinner. When you plan your everyday tasks, you are using your natural way of planning.
First, you decide on the purpose of your dinner. Are you going out with friends to socialize or to party? Is it to celebrate a special event, a date, or a business dinner? Your brain starts to set the boundaries of this dinner, such as money, services, and type of food.
Second, once your purpose is clear, you start to have an idea about the outcome. You are now thinking about Italian food, a cafe, or a Chinese place. Now you start envisioning the place you decided to go to. You can see yourself sitting next to the window, watching people as they go by. You can even smell the food and remember the taste.
Once your vision is clear, you start to have some ideas. Your brain starts to brainstorm unconsciously. You think about the time when you should go. Will the place be open? What kind of clothes should you wear? Is the car ready for the trip? And so on.
Once this flow of ideas is over, you start to organize them. You start thinking that by eight, you will leave the house, go to the specific restaurant you chose, and then sit down. You will be wearing your black dress with your black heels, and you will be taking your coat with you because the weather gets cold at night. You will be able to see the full movie of your dinner play out.
Now that everything is planned out, you decide to take the first action. You call your friend and ask them to go out, then call the restaurant and make reservations.
I bet you didn’t know that your brain is doing this kind of planning all day long. Why not use this type of planning to get things done the natural way? This will be less stressful than using a chart or software.
Getting Started: Setting Up the Time, Space, and Tools
Sometimes, adding a simple trick to your life can change your life forever. Most successful people have integrated a few tricks to achieve extraordinary success.
To clear your mind for better performance, you need to set the right time, place, and tools for taking control of your life.
Time means you need to set aside at least two days. You can use the weekend or your holiday to start this process. This may sound too long, but the results will pay off right away.
Place means that you need to have your desk to write down and organize your life. Even if you have an office at work, you need to install a working station at home.
Tools are the things that you can use to process your thoughts and organize them into the right folder where they belong. Among the tools, you may need papers, paper trays, pencils, post-it notes, a stapler, a calendar, and a computer. You may be comfortable using more tools or less. It’s up to you to decide how to equip your desk.
Remember that we are trying to create a space where you can empty your mind from all distractions. Being at the right time and space for reaching your goal is important.
An example of how you will use your tools can be using your calendar. Having a calendar ready for use is essential for any organizational system.
The type of calendar doesn’t matter as long you are using it the right way. Don’t use your calendar to keep track of incomplete tasks that you will never review. This will only make you feel that your organizational system is not working. As a result, you may end up giving up on the whole process.
A calendar is meant to keep reminders of specific tasks that must be done at a specific time no matter what, such as a doctor’s appointment or a seminar.
You may want to use a hard copy or software to get organized. Whatever you use, keep in mind that no tool can work alone. To build a solid organizing system that works, you will need to integrate multiple tools and use different tricks.
Collection: Corralling Your “Stuff”
Now, you have your desk ready with all the tools that you may need for organizing. You can start.
The first thing you need to do is to collect everything that needs to be organized. This process may take from two to six hours, depending on the amount of “stuff” that you need to sort out.
You need to go through every room and every storage unit in your house. First, you need to do a physical gathering. You need to look for anything that’s just lying around without a permanent place to belong. This type of item will need to be processed. It belongs to your in-basket.
Second, you need to do a mental gathering. You need to sit and write down all your ideas on a piece of paper. It’s better to write every single idea and put it into your in-basket. You will have a lot of ideas and projects that you want to do but never had the time to do them.
An example of your physical gathering can be your desk drawers. We all know that our desk drawers are the place where we put everything and never pick it up again.
Most times, a desk drawer will be filled with files, notes, business cards, pens, and other things that we may never need or use.
You need to go through every item separately. Check every business card and every note. When you find something that you feel is still valuable, put it in your in-basket.
An example of mental gathering can be personal or professional ideas. You may want to clean your garage, call someone, or sort your email list.
By the time you finish gathering everything that needs to be sorted out, you will find a huge pile of stuff. One basket may not be enough, and you may need a full room for collecting your incomplete things.
Now that you are looking at the entire pile that you need to deal with, you can see clearly what needs to be done and where you will be once you get everything organized. You can now imagine how focused you will be on your work once all your incomplete tasks are dealt with.
Once everything that has been distracting you is gathered in one place and ready to be organized, you will feel a sense of power that you have never felt before. You will feel that you are the one who is in control of your messy life and not the opposite.
Don’t be discouraged if the process of collecting your stuff takes time. It will be worth it once everything is put in its rightful place.
Processing: Getting “In” to Empty
In the previous chapter, you learned how to collect all the incomplete tasks that are making you feel distracted while working.
While collecting all your things, you should have thrown away what you don’t need. Now it’s time to do the tasks that will only take two minutes of your time to get done.
If you find a task that someone else should be doing, you need to ask them to do it. In the end, you will be left with tasks that will take you more than two minutes to do. These tasks can be further categorized into simple tasks and bigger projects. Projects usually need more planning.
When processing your to-do list, you should always remember to start with top priority tasks first. Remember that you should process one item at a time and never keep any task unfinished. If you procrastinate, you will have things that will distract you again, which is the opposite of your goal.
These tasks may seem easy and clear for you right now, but if you don’t process them, you will forget them as soon as you leave your room.
What you need to do is write a sentence describing what exactly you need to do to achieve your goal.
Let’s take a look at an example of what your list might look like.
• Clean the living room.
For this task, you will need to write something like “I need to clean the carpet, dust the sofa, and maybe move the table a little to the left …”
• Organize my email list.
For this task, you may write, “I have to get rid of useless subscriptions, reply to important emails, delete everything that I don’t need and maybe create different categories”.
• Go through my closet.
Cleaning a closet is a task no one likes. When you set a clear goal, you will be more motivated to do it. You may write, “I need to get rid of the clothes that I don’t need”.
• Prepare for a presentation.
If you find out that a task may take more than one step to be done, put it under the projects category. This will need more planning later on.
For example, planning for a presentation is considered to be a project. When planning a presentation, you will need to pick a topic, read a few resources, write your draft, prepare a slideshow, then practice speaking in public.
Doing: Making the Best Action Choices
Organizing your tasks is very important. It allows you to sit down and work without having distracting thoughts about things that you need to do. Incomplete tasks will always be a distraction unless you have a system where you write down every idea and plan for it to happen.
Now that you have collected all your tasks in one place, you need to categorize them into different categories. These categories include your projects, your calendar events, your next action list, your waiting for list, and your someday list.
Your project list includes all the tasks that require more than one step to get done. Your calendar should consist of all the tasks that have a specific due date. Your next action list will include the tasks that require taking action.
For your other lists, you can use a folder, a planner, or software. Whatever you decide to use, you need to keep in mind that you must keep every category separate. This means you don’t write the same task in two categories. That will only confuse you and make you feel that your system is flawed.
Let’s take the example of your action lists. This list includes all the tasks that need to be done in one sitting and one context, such as home chores, computer tasks, phone calls, and errands.
By collecting tasks in specific categories, you are saving time and effort. For example, when you put all the tasks that need computer use in one folder, whenever you find yourself free to use your PC, you can just get that folder and start working right away.
Once you get the folder named “At Computer” open, you will find everything that you need to do. This way, you will never miss any task or forget anything important.
You can even have sub-categories. For your computer tasks, you can have online tasks and offline tasks. These categories will make working from anywhere even easier.
Imagine that you are traveling and you have no access to the internet. On your plane, you can just open your computer folder, go to your offline tasks, and start working directly.
When you are online, you can do the tasks that will require the use of an internet connection, such as answering emails or uploading files.
Categorizing everything will help you to be organized, never forget anything important, and always be on top of your to-do list.
You will feel no more stress because now you are the one in control of your busy life.
Times have changed; the working field has become an unknown territory. Nowadays, when you take a job, you are expected to deliver results without knowing exactly what you should be doing.
Every day your life becomes more complicated. Day after day, your to-do list grows longer, and you never seem to have enough time to get things done.
This book has emerged as a solution to these problems. With its organizing method, it has changed the lives of many successful people.
In this book, you have learned how to cope with new responsibilities in your life. You learned that by getting everything in your life organized, you would be able to focus more and do the tasks in less time.
You also learned how to organize your life by doing physical gatherings. You even learned how to process every task in order. Once you have an organizing system that you trust, everything else will be easier.
You can now focus on your work because you know that everything has been handled.
Relax, and enjoy a life of hard work and actual achievements.