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GTD July 20, 2010

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Books, Reviews, The Daily Grind.
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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free ProductivityFor a while, a running joke between the wife and me involved my asking her, “Are you finished with Getting Things Done?”

The wife had picked up David Allen’s book at the mall while killing time a few months back, and when she did I was excited. I knew of the book. I was aware that it espoused a productivity system that was in vogue and that many people swear by. As such, I wanted to read it.

Yet she could never find the time to finish reading the book.

Of course, this amused me to no end. I understood, though: between all the things the wife take cares of when she’s at home, she could only devote so much time to the book. But as a joke, it’s priceless. Can’t finish reading GTD? Epic fail!

Then came my turn with the book, and the wife’s revenge: I got through even less of the book than she did before giving up in frustration.

I realize that GTD can be (and has been!) helpful to a lot of people. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t read particularly well. It has about as much personality as a strip of cardboard and lacks a fundamental characteristic that would immediately create buy-in among it’s readers: it isn’t sticky. The Heath brothers hit the nail on the head that messages work best because they are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, have emotion and are told with stories. Getting Things Done — the book — has hardly any of these elements, and one would think that the best way to describe how to implement the system would be to tell vivid success stories. Alas, there are hardly any. I’d argue that this makes all the difference.

Thus things stand. Is GTD a good system? Yes. Is the book particularly helpful? Maybe — if you’ve the patience and it’s your thing, or perhaps if there were a seminar to accompany it. Otherwise, be prepared for something that reads like a manual, if not a shopping list.

But should you take the plunge, and feel the same way I do, remember my words: “Epic fail!”

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