Book review for “Getting things done” (GTD) by David Allen

Best quotes

“Don’t just do something. Stand there.” – Rochelle Myer

“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness.” – Jean de la Bruysre

“What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.” – Aristotle

Let your advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” – Winston Churchill


How do you keep track of and make progress on all of your responsibilities and commitments without getting seriously stressed out? Getting Things Done (GTD) is a complete system of work habits that will allow you to capture, organize, and track everything that’s on your mind, resulting in a clear, calm view of the next actions needed to keep your projects moving. This allows one to focus attention on taking action on tasks, instead of on recalling them. As far as getting more organised go, GTD is the shit.

How it helped me

I absorbed and applied this book at a strange time in my life. I had just graduated university but didn’t quite want to face the reality of finding a job. I somehow convinced myself that first what I needed to do was learn how to organise myself, which was really just an excuse to procrastinate. So I spend a shitload of time procrastinating away from finding a job by learning this workflow method… and it may have been the most productive procrastination I ever did. At the end of reading it, through pure luck I managed to get a job through a friend who called me out of the blue, and through my stupid procrastination I came to the job with these excellent organisational skills.

I started capturing all my thoughts and ideas on paper, getting them out of what was a seriously cluttered mind and what now is relatively clear. Then I started organising my commitments into projects, which I then made plans to complete and create next actions to fulfill. I created the someday/maybe list for that huge list of things that kept lingering in the back of my mind of stuff I should do. And now I process my in-baskets, next actions, and current projects and waiting on list literally every single morning. On days where I don’t do these GTD habits, the day is pretty much guaranteed to be stressful as I don’t feel that I know what’s going on.

The consequence of applying these ideas was that I’m now an extremely organised individual. I don’t miss deadlines, I don’t turn up to places late, I don’t forget things and I don’t often get stressed out. And honestly, I fail to comprehend how shit my life would be without this book. The capture journal alone has probably done more to preserve my sanity that any single other thing I’ve ever done. I have an active method of actually achieving my goals, which I do each and every month and will continue to do until I die.


Goals – What are your’s? What do you want said about you at your eulogy? How can you break your lifetime goals down into shorter sub-goals to achieve? How can you then break down those sub-goals into projects for you to either perform now or someday/maybe in the future?

Collecting – Ever get a nagging thought in your head that just keeps coming up again and again and again? Probably not all that helpful to your mental calm. Let’s get rid of that permanently through a system to capture those thoughts.

Processing – Teaches you what to do once you’ve captured all the shit you could be doing, be it the papers on your desk, the emails in your inbox or the thoughts you’ve written down. Is it actionable or something to refer back to?

Organising – If it’s actionable but requires a multi-step process, how can you better organise that “project” which you’ll create a note for and can remember and refer back to?

Reviewing – How are you going with your goal progress? Are there any leaks in your GTD system? Any lingering next actions to re-evaluate? How can you improve.

Where in your journey this fits

Where does this fit? Well, I honestly can’t imagine achieving any goals at all without going batshit fucking insane if you don’t do GTD, unless your goal is to go batshit fucking insane. So it HAS to be somewhere in your journey. Perhaps after you’ve figured out your goals but certainly when your day-to-day life is getting out of control to the extent where it’s impossible to think strategically or plan anything. I envy you if you’re yet to read this book, your life is about to seriously become better in a very exciting way.

Criticism of the book

Takes a while to properly setup and totally internalise. Hella worth it, but won’t happen immediately. Recommend that you just focus on one habit at a time, perhaps starting with the workspace or the capturing or the someday/maybes or the next actioning.

Similar texts

(Like a cut-down version of GTD)

Links to learn more

(links to buy books)

(Links to an FAQ from Zen Habits):

(Beginner’s guide to GTD from Zen Habits):

(Why GTD helps you achieve your goals):

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