Getting Things Done Faster

What’s amazing to me is that people spend so much time learning about “time management.” My attitude has always been that people should quit screwing around learning about “time management” and just spend their time doing stuff.

Nevertheless, I am currently reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done, as it comes highly recommended by various friends. My basic evaluation so far is positive, but I think most readers could save a lot of time by skipping much of the book.

Basically, the entire first part — the first 81 pages — boils down to two points.

1. To reach your goals, you need to define your goals and figure out effective ways to reach them.

2. You need a good way to process information related to your projects. You’re getting all sorts of ideas and information coming at you, all the time, from many directions. Moreover, you do a lot of good thinking at odd times. You need a good way to capture and organize all this information and all those ideas, so that you can effectively use them, and so that you can work in a more relaxed, enjoyable way.

Part 2, which I’ve just started, explains specifically how to accomplish the second point. I really don’t think I would have missed much if I had simply skipped the first part. It seems to me that much of effective time management is about figuring out what not to do.

2 thoughts on “Getting Things Done Faster”

  1. Certainly, being efficient and organized regarding one’s time and defining one’s goals has benefits, but any individual or organization/business I have ever known or am familiar with who makes time management/organization/process and goal-setting their main focus generally fails to develop revolutionary ideas or set high enough goals because it’s more important for them to achieve a goal–any goal–than to take the time and painstaking effort to think seriously about the fundamental principles (and then applying them to one’s field of work, and then to a specific project) that will allow them to set the more ambitious and difficult goal that will lead to success and happiness. I see philosophy–one based on man’s nature and this world–and not time management, as the most important tool in choosing and achieving the right goals.

    I agree with Ms. Hsieh’s remarks on her blog a few days ago on the Fortune interview of Steve Jobs of Apple, in her agreement with him that having people “conform to process” and “enacting certain fixed means” are sure ways to kill productivity and crush self esteem–and a fixed time management goal-setting scheme seems to reek of that.

    -Jason G.

  2. Just to clarify…

    Jason, you might have noticed in that blog post that I thought Apple’s praiseworthy method of the Monday meeting was similar to an important aspect of GTD, namely the weekly review.

    GTD is not like other time-management systems. It’s not about dividing up your time or organizing your priorities. In fact, it’s not a time-management system at all. It’s about managing the workflow for all the myriad projects — particularly about outsourcing that to a reliable, effective system so that you can free your mind to think about the important things in life. I couldn’t do a fraction of what I do without GTD.

    Also, philosophy is certainly necessary for the effective pursuit of goals, but it’s hardly the end of the story. We need effective tools and methods to manage the very nitty-gritty, here-and-now of our pursuits and projects. Philosophy can’t tell you how to manage that.

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