Crackerjack Greenback Prudent Advice for a Prosperous Future

February 5, 2009

Review: Getting Things Done by David Allen

Filed under: Reviews — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 11:36 am

       I recently finished reading Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. I have seen a lot about the Getting Things Done (GTD) system on many websites, so I wanted to read the book and see what it’s all about.

       I figured I’d write up a review when I was finished. Why review a book about productivity on a personal finance website? Because productivity—getting things done—is basically how we earn money. In general, if you can get more work accomplished, you’ll make more money. That’s not to say you should be a workaholic, but it helps if you can complete your work with accuracy and efficiency without getting stressed.

       While I was reading the book, I ran across a review by G.E. Miller at 20 Something Finance. In his review of Getting Things Done, G.E. covers everything you really need to know from the book. (Except he does it in a few paragraphs, whereas David Allen took 257 pages to do it.) G.E. also reflects many of my sentiments about the book, but I’ll add a couple of my thoughts here. Check out his review if you want a sense of what the GTD system is all about. There’s no sense in me writing it up again!

More Fluff Than the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man

       One of the things that bothered me about the book is that David Allen takes five hundred words to say what he could with five words. Getting Things Done is loaded with way too much fluff that doesn’t really add much to the ideas it contains. Save yourself the time and read G.E. Miller’s review of Getting Things Done.

Corporate Jargon Plague

       Part of the fluff is Allen’s extensive use of corporate jargon. If phrases like “multilevel outcome management”, “positive organizational culture”, or “outcome visioning” don’t get you all excited, you’re probably not going to enjoy reading the book much. Again, just about any online review of the book will give you all you need to know with minimum corporate jargon.

It’s Just Common Sense

       Most of the GTD “system” is just plain common sense. I have a natural tendency to be organized, so maybe that’s why it seems like common sense to me. If you have no concept of organization, maybe the book will help you. But just about every technique I read in the book was something I already do. Making lists, tracking appointments, and having a weekly review are not revolutionary ideas. Though the faithful adherents in the GTD movement would like you to think so.

Save Your Time and Actually Get Things Done

       I don’t recommend buying the book or even borrowing it from your library. Check out G.E. Miller’s review or any other review you’ll find online, and save yourself the time of reading the whole book. The only good thing I can say about the book is that it helped me refocus on my own system at a time when I was feeling a little lost (since I’m no longer in a 9-to-5 environment).


  1. Paul,
    I must say I liked the book. I wrote a review of it a while back… I agree that David could have written it in a fewer amount of words, but I got some decent insight from it. I don’t really think his system is common sense, it is simple, but I don’t think too many people know/or do what he was talking about in the book… I think you are probably right on about your natural tendency to be organized – most people are not! and that is probably why I liked it!! 😉

    Comment by ChristianPF — February 9, 2009 @ 8:29 pm

  2. I think you’re right about most people not being naturally organized. And that may be why the book has been so popular. His system is simple, but I’d say for most organized people it would just seem “common sense”. The whole idea of lists, weekly reviews, and not letting stuff sit in your “in” box is just what I’ve always done, so the book didn’t have much appeal to me.

    But like you said, if someone needs help getting organized and wants a simple system explained in fairly simple terms (but with a bit of fluff) then it’s the right book. Just wasn’t for me. 🙂

    Comment by Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback — February 9, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  3. Good review. David Allen really is a master at selling common sense.
    All those worshippers/followers….wow 🙂

    Comment by Jane — September 3, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

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