Getting Things Done has literally changed my life. That may sound like a cliche, but it's still true. Written by David Allen -- "the personal productivity guru"-- this 21st century self-help classic takes you from paper stacks, to-do overload and total confusion to a glowing light at the end of the tunnel. Allen teaches you about the power of the simple questions "What's the desired outcome?" and then, "So, what's the next action?" I have read countless books on organization and time managment, and I even help people organize their homes as a side business.. But this took me from being a fairly organized person to someone who finally feels in control. Allen starts from a premise that we all have a huge amount of vague thoughts and reminders to ourselves floating around. We feel stressed because we're uncounciously trying to remember it all and keep it straight. So he tells us to get it out of our head and written somewhere. And he means all of it! Then it goes into the in-basket -- ONE in-basket. He also explains the necessity of the weekly review of your in-basket. For me, the weekly review has become a life-saver. Nothing ever gets forgotten this way.
The only negative is Allen's writing, which can be somewhat confusing and wordy. I did find myself having to re-read frequently. It's unlikely anyone could finish this book and immediately start implementing the complete system. But there are facets of it which can help you right away. Allen's Two Minute Rule -- if it takes less than two minutes, do it now -- is a great way to get a lot of stuff off your plate. There's also his suggestion that you can have a single folder for a single piece of paper. No more overstuffed miscellaneous files!
Unlike many other organization books, this one doesn't make you feel guilty for those stacks of paper on the flooor, losing the phone bill and forgetting to buy catfood. Allen makes it clear that most of us already intuitively know how to manage our lives. We just don't have a concise and systematic way of getting on top of things. His step-by-step program takes common sense to a higher level, and it is easily adapted to anyone's lifestyle, whether a CEO or a stay-at-home-mom. I refer to this book often. It lives on the kitchen counter by the telephone. In his first sentence Allen boasts "It's possible for a person to have an overwhelming number of things to do and still function productively with a clear head and positive sense of relaxed control." Read Getting Things Done and start putting in place a system to gain control over your life.