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 Matrix – Movie Summary

  1. The MatrixIn the Matrix, Thomas A. Anderson is a man living a double life – working for a highly respectable software company, and a hacker under the alias ‘Neo’.
  2. The Matrix follows the progression of Neo going from regular guy to being exposed to the ‘real world’. The revelation comes in that the world Neo thought was real was actually the Matrix, a computer program developed by machines in order to use human beings as batteries.
  3. Neo was thought by Morpheus – a person Neo has been desperately trying to find in the ‘real world’ – how to control the Matrix. Morpheus feels Neo is the chosen one, the one who will set everyone free from the Matrix. Neo, along with everyone else involved in these missions, are constantly being pursued by Agents, sentient programs whose job it is to isolate those who hack into the Matrix and remove them.
  4. The Matrix contains a great deal of religious and philosophical parallels which have been noticed by philosophers and academia and the film is still being closely studied to this day. While many may appreciate The Matrix for its over-the-top fight scenes, there is much to be gained from the film on both intellectual and philosophical levels.
  5. When Morpheus presents Neo with the choice of two pills, this can be interpreted as recognition of Neo’s double consciousness and his acceptance of the red pill is the first step towards becoming a singular individual. Near the end of the movie, Neo has a climactic hand to hand fight with Agent Smith who has consistently insisted on referring to Neo as ‘Mr. Anderson’. During a moment in which it appears Agent Smith will be victorious, Neo takes hold of him and triumphantly exclaims “My name is Neo!” and momentarily defeats Agent Smith. In
    this moment, Neo has chosen which life to embrace and has discarded the Thomas Anderson persona of his previous life.
  6. Following the climactic fight scene in which Neo goes toe to toe with Agent Smith and realises that this is a fight he cannot win, he rushes to find the nearest exit from the Matrix. At the end of this pursuit, a matter of feet away from the exit, Neo is ambushed by three Agents and shot, presumably to death. This bears many similarities to the Crucifixion of Jesus. Neo ‘dies’ but is resurrected moments later as ‘the One’. He now possesses the ability to bend the laws of physics within the Matrix to his will, stopping bullets in mid-flight by merely willing them to do
    so. After Neo effortlessly defeats Agent Smith, the film ends shortly thereafter with Neo leaving a short message for the machines. Afterward, Neo is seen flying into the sky, similar to the Christian belief of Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.
  7. The following inspiring quotes originated from the Matrix:

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” – Morpheus

“Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” – Morpheus

“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” – Morpheus

Hitch – Movie Summary

  1. HitchAlex ‘Hitch’ Hitchens helps hopeless or less confident men hook up with the women who they believe are out of their league.
  2. Hitch’s main task in the movie was to transform a man with little self-esteem onto being a confident, supportive and loving friend, boyfriend and eventually husband.
  3. Hitch plays it just right – his smile isn’t forced, his jokes come easy, and the awkward scenes work fine because of his charismatic nature.
  4. Hitch proves it with Albert that even a guy who may seem to have the least of chances to be able to pull a girl can actually do it if he has the self-belief.
  5. Hitch has very high emotional intelligence to be able to interpret how the other person is feeling and thus act accordingly. In particular, he manages to find out about the paparazzi, senses how Sara changes her behaviour over dinner at his place, and interprets body language with Allegra as she plays with her house keys.
  6. Hitch has a wonderful style, as demonstrated by the way he gets the girl at the club to move away from the other guys and speak to Hitch.
  7. Hitch clearly makes a presence that makes you follow him and be attentive with regards to what he says. This is because he’s such a sociable, dominant man.
  8. Hitch shows the importance of listening. He specifically instructs Albert to listen to what Allegra has to say. This shows that Albert respects Allegra, which is a desirable quality to be having.
  9. Hitch hides his personality as much as possible. He reveals very little, which keeps him as a mystery and makes other people curious. Though his mystery didn’t pay off in the right manner for him, it could in other instances.
  10. Hitch did a lot of in-depth research about Sara and Allegra. This is important to be able to connect with people easily and leave a great impression. In particular, he found out about Sara’s great grandfather and the drink she was drinking at the club.
  11. Hitch may make mistakes (like having his shirt stuck in the door and kicking Sara on the face), but he still leaves the other person hooked. He automatically makes the other person interested in him.
  12. Below are some particular quotes and phrases from the movie:

“Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love. If you must steal, steal away from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.”

“Basic principles: no woman wakes up saying, “God, I hope I don’t get swept off my feet today!” Now, she might say, “This is a really bad time for me,” or something like, “I just need some space,” or my personal favourite, “I’m really into my career right now.” You believe that? Neither does she. You know why? Because she’s lying to you, that’s why. You understand me? Lying! It’s not a bad time for her. She doesn’t need any space. And she may be into her career, but what she’s really saying is, “Uh, get away from me now,” or possibly, “Try harder, stupid.” But which one is it? Sixty percent of all human communication is nonverbal, body language; thirty percent is your tone. So that means that ninety percent of what you’re saying ain’t coming out of your mouth. Of course she’s going to lie to you! She’s a nice person. She doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. What else she going to say? She doesn’t even know you… yet. Luckily, the fact is that just like the rest of us, even a beautiful woman doesn’t know what she wants until she sees it, and that’s where I come in. My job is to open her eyes. Basic principles: no matter what, no matter when, no matter who… any man has a chance to sweep any woman off her feet. He just needs the right broom.”

“One dance, one look, one kiss, that’s all we get, Albert. Just… one shot, to make the difference between happily ever after, and oh? he’s just some guy I went to some thing with once.”