Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Success Book Reviews - David Allen "Ready For Anything" Part 1

This is Part 1 of my Review of David Allen’s Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life I read, Allen’s Getting Things Done in the fall of 2006 and have been using the GTD techniques ever since . This book provides clarifying insights, and even some philosophical background into the GTD techniques. The “feel” of the GTD method, so to speak.

Below are some of my favorite points from each part of the book

“Ready For Anything" Part 1: “Clear Your Head” for Creativity"

One of Allen’s key points is that the conscious mind is a logic and processing tool, not a reminder book. Post-it’s do not belong in our heads. One of the first steps to clearing out your “psychic RAM” (as Allen calls it) is a “ubiquitous capture tool”. Ideas, appointments, tasks, projects must be captured as they emerge. There are huge benefits to this. First and foremost is the lifting of that tiny voice of anxiety … “Oh…I can’t forget about this”. I use my little pocket Staples notebook, and regularly experience a cycle of :

a) recalling a task,
b) remembering that I’ve already recorded it and
c) that “ahh” feeling of solidity and satisfaction that the task is “in the system” and that I don’t have to worry about remembering it.

Allen’s admonishment to “get everything out of your head is harder than it sounds. I find myself pooh-pooh-ing the repetitive opening of my notebook for seemingly trivial things. Like breakthrough ideas. But seriously.. it’s those little things the ones I think I can remember, that I resist notating. But now that I have been doing GTD for a while, I recognize that counter-impulse, and I do write it all down, Ahh…the relief.

Allen’s concept of the “Weekly Review” has become a part of my week that I truly look forward to. When I am done with that review, I almost feel like I’m on “autopilot”. I close my files and relax. It’s all out of my head, and I can focus much more intently on a task-by-task basis because, when those nagging “reminder” voices come up, I can mentally affirm “it’s in the system”. There is no question that the time spent reviewing more than “pays for itself” in the calmness and assuredness with which I can later approach single tasks, knowing that, out of all my tasks I have consciously selected what I am doing for the right reasons. Not because it just occurred to me.

Allen also takes issue with the argument that “creative people” have cause to resist such organizational procedures. I agree with Allen: that’s humbug. Allen contends that you can be more creative when there’s “room” both psychically, and on your schedule, to be creative. For example: I am writing this blog post because the bills are paid on time, because I know what, and when I expect to be posing this, because this book made it into my “new reading” folder, etc. There is certainly no reason to think I could be posting more productively if I didn’t know what my tasks and “next actions” were.

To be continued…


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