Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


David Allen: Making It All Work

As you may know from my past writing here, I have been a follower of David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD)  methodology for many years.  It’s been a cycle of awesome productivity, interspersed with frustration and thrash.  Why?  I tend to get bored with repetition and systems, even when I see their value and GTD has been no different.  Well, to be fair, it’s been a bit different because I’ve noticed that I am able to stick with GTD much longer than many other processes.  But it’s still a bit of a struggle.

The promise of a book

MIAWcover When I heard about David Allen’s new book, “Making It All Work,” I preordered my copy pretty early.  I was intrigued by its premise (promise?):

“Making It All Work” addresses: How to figure out where you are in life and what you need; How to be your own consultant and the CEO of your life; Moving from hope to trust in decision-making; When not to set goals; Harnessing intuition,spontaneity, and serendipity; And why life is like business and business is like life.

So, now I’ve read the book – did it deliver?

First, this book is not a substitute for the original.  It’s more like a sequel, building on the solid foundation of GTD and extending it with some of the lessons and new perspectives David has learned since his methodology has become a phenomenon.

If you have read the first book, you’ll find some useful thought in this book from David himself, some of which may help clear any stumbling blocks you’ve encountered in your adoption of GTD.

Some of the things I picked up in this book are simply shifts in perspective – like thinking of your lists and notes as “bookmarks” to help you go back to where you were later.  I don’t do anything differently, but I find I’m more likely to “bookmark” with my lists now, and I often treat the bookmarks more like pointers than dissertations (and pointers are quicker, also making it more likely I will do this).

I was pleased to find that there are some new topics and methods in this book.  For example, the section dealing with Capturing has been expanded to include quite a bit of detail on brainstorming, processing, and clarification of what you’ve captured.  This section includes quite a collection of best practices.

A clearer map

David also includes quite a few mind maps that helped me, due to my visual thinking tendencies. There are maps showing how to make more effective lists, become more output-focused in your thinking, better cope with projects and reference materials, and quite a few other areas that often felt mysterious to me during my GTD journey.

There is also some solid material about weekly reviews (which I knew about but certainly haven’t perfected).

All of this converges in the book with the goal of helping you become better at managing your life by becoming better at GTD.  Of course, a book can’t provision good habits and consistent practice.  That’s the tough part.  And that’s where my trouble lives, I realize.

If you’re committed to GTD, you’ll get a lot out of “Making It All Work.”  If you’re new to GTD start with the first GTD book, then pick this one up after you have the basics down.