Getting Things Done, by David Allen – Book Summary

Getting Things DoneGetting Things Done is a book that explains a well-formulated method for time management – the book partly provides tools and techniques, and partly explains the psychology behind it. Its author, David Allen says that mastering your time enables you to live in the present moment. The book is divided into 3 parts:

Part 1 (The Art of Getting Things Done) provides an outline for getting control of your life through the five stages of mastering workflow: collection, processing, organizing, reviewing and doing.

Part 2 (Practicing Stress-Free Productivity), which is well over half the book, repeats a lot of what is said in Part 1, but provides much more detail on the application of Allen’s methodology.

Part 3 (The Power of the Key Principles) explains why Allen’s methods work and the benefits to be gained from using his approach.

The entire process, including inputs, processing/thinking, and outputs (actions and action lists), is conveniently summarised in a flowchart provided in Getting Things Done. Allen’s philosophy is that to be one’s most productive self, one must be able to think clearly. In order to think clearly, one must have completely downloaded from one’s short-term memory or RAM (like computer RAM) all the ‘open loops’ – unfulfilled commitments one has made to oneself. This frees the mind to do naturally what it does best – think about things rather than of things. Allen gives pointers for using one’s critical thinking skills, including three methods for making decisions about what actions to take.

Once one has everything off his mind and written down, in paper or electronically, one has to decide, “What’s the next action?” This is the critical question! Once this is decided, the action must be completed or tracked in a trusted system, such as a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA).

Allen also has a two-minute rule, which states that as one goes through their inbox and determines next actions, any next action that can be completed in two minutes or less should be completed immediately. In this way, a lot of items are touched only once and are forever cleared from their ‘psychic RAM’.

Allen outlines a process for getting RAM cleared in the first place and then for keeping it clear on a daily basis, as new things come into one’s inbox. The “What’s the next action?” question must be asked on the front-end, when the item from the inbox is first reviewed.

Applying Allen’s system is put forth as a way for today’s knowledge worker to have a competitive edge in the new millennium. Allen’s system is as applicable to one’s home environment and projects as it is to one’s work. He also claims it can help procrastinators.

Below is the management process described in Getting Things Done. Click anywhere on the image to expand it, and implement this simple-yet-effective system to develop your time management and organisational skills.

Getting Things Done Process

More information can be found on the Official Website of David Allen and Getting Things Done and Wikisummaries.

The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

A Quote on Entrepreneurship from William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

“There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose the ventures before us.”

– William Shakespeare, poet and playwright

William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the ‘Bard of Avon’. His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, the authorship of some of which is uncertain. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

The Value of Entrepreneurs – An Investigation

Entrepreneur – noun – Someone who exercises initiative by organising a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced.

Entrepreneurship has never been more important than it is today. Humankind is younger than it has ever been, with more than half of the world’s population under the age of 25. There is a youth bulge of 1.8 billion people, with 87% living in developing countries and around 66% of them under-utilised. There is a crisis that the world’s leaders in government, business and civil society all agree on – that crisis is youth unemployment. This crisis has serious social, economic and political implications that must be addressed immediately.

Now, more than ever, entrepreneurs are essential to create jobs, economic growth and wealth, as well as to address the growing set of global challenges our society is facing. Studies from organisations such as the OECD, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum have consistently illustrated that entrepreneurs and young businesses are the leading source of job creation and sustainable growth. Countries around the world have increasingly focused on entrepreneurship and innovation as the way forward for building new knowledge and creative approaches, increasing global competitiveness, addressing the growing challenge of increasing unemployment, and creating new jobs. However, far more focus and emphasis must now be placed on developing entrepreneurial thinking, and ecosystems that foster entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial thinking is a 4-stage process that is driven by seven overarching ‘mindsets’. The entrepreneurship process is:

  1. Identify a problem
  2. Create a sustainable commercial solution to the problem
  3. Identify who values the solution
  4. Take action

The Seven ‘Mindsets’ of Entrepreneurial Thinking

  1. Passionate, Inspired & Energetic

“Choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” – Confucious

  1. Empowered, Confident & Willing to Take Opportunities

“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity” – Seneca

  1. Ownership Mentality

“The best way to predict the future is to create it” – Peter Drucker

  1. Fast Decision Making & Risk Taking

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Elliot

  1. Leadership

“Leadership is taking responsibility whilst others are making excuses” – John C Maxwell

  1. Disciplined & Hard Working

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” – Thomas Eddison

  1. Learning, Adaptive & Dynamic

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela

Here’s a short video to inspire the youth of today to think of an entrepreneurial idea and take action!

Adapted from Jeremy Liddle, President G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Australia and Grasshopper.