Getting Things Done Book Summary By David Allen

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David Allen's Getting Things Done has been a must-read for productivity gurus for the past two decades.

The book covers a system that can help people manage and organize their tasks in an efficient, stress-free and productive way.

Through this book, David provides simple steps you can take to build a plan for dealing with the overwhelming amount of things to do that usually come up in life.

By following his advice, individuals will learn to be more productive, creative and relaxed as they tackle each task on their list.

Ultimately, Getting Things Done is designed to teach readers how to organize their long (and short) term priorities and maintain clarity when it comes to goal setting and achieving them.

Getting Things Done Book

Book Name: Getting Things Done (The Art of Stress-Free Productivity)

Author(s): David Allen

Rating: 4.6/5

Reading Time: 22 Minutes

Categories: Career & Success

Author Bio

David Allen is an American thinker and productivity guru who has been forming strategies on how to best get things done long before the term "Getting Things Done" was invented.

His company, which trains executives in his method, has helped make David one of the most influential writers and consultants in the world when it comes to self-management and productivity.

He has written numerous books and articles on these topics, delving deep into the philosophy behind getting tasks completed efficiently.

Organize Your Work With The Getting Things Done Method To Achieve Clarity And Control In Life

Your Work

Discover the power of stress-free productivity with the Getting Things Done book.

This comprehensive system was built on simple principles, such as creating a comprehensive list of external tasks and ensuring that your projects have clear and tangible next steps.

GTD will help you to better organize your work, solving problems and keeping all your projects in order – both personal and professional.

It can provide clarity and control over all aspects of your life, helping you to stay focused and keep objectives within reach.

It can even help free up time for long-term ideas or dreams by breaking them down into achievable steps.

Furthermore, it is also designed to stop you from over- or underreacting to stressful events in life, much like a pebble thrown into a puddle causes the water to react appropriately without an overbearing response.

GTD recognizes that being exhausted does not always mean job productivity should suffer; instead its method focuses on managing time effectively so that potential can be unleashed with minimal stressors or distractions hindering progress on important tasks.

With this sense of calmness and control, you can redefine what’s possible from yourself in life!

Set Up Your Workspace And Tools To Use The Gtd Process For Maximum Productivity

Most of us spend our days inundated with tasks and projects, assaults from email and phone calls, and endless interruptions.

Although the brain is capable of remarkable mental feats, keeping track of all this information often leads to distraction and emotions of being overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, relying on our brains to keep track of all these items just isn’t effective since it’s not good at remembering everything.

What’s more, if we try to store information in our heads we limit the amount we can focus on whatever task is at hand.

That’s why using external tools such as the Getting Things Done (GTD) system can be so helpful.

It encourages us to remove unnecessary items from our minds by capturing them externally in lists or other organizational systems instead.

From there, you can clarify what each item means and organize them accordingly so you never have to worry about forgetting something important again!

This way, you won’t be interrupted by thoughts like “Remember to pay the electricity bill” while trying to concentrate on another task- a huge relief in today’s hectic work environment!

Setting Up The Right Workspace And Filing System For The Gtd Methodology

The Getting Things Done (GTD) system is all about getting organized and feeling in control, so it’s important to make sure you have the right workspace, tools and filing system in place to start with.

To get going, first set up a comfortable workplace where all the necessary materials are available.

Along with this, consider setting up identical workspaces at home and in the office to be equally efficient no matter where you are.

In terms of tools, you should have a few items on hand such as paper-holding trays for your ‘in’ and ‘out’ trays, paper, pens, post-its, clips and labels for files, along with other office stationery necessary for tasks or projects.

Don’t forget about digital devices that can also help you capture and organize tasks!

You can create a general reference filing system too – both physical and digital – which stores documents, notes or tickets that need filing away.

You could use an A-Z filing system within folders for topics or people related to certain projects/companies which makes things easier to find when referencing so limit the search parties needed.

Lastly make sure that once a year your files are purged of anything unnecessary so it remains manageable!

By taking the time to set up your workspace properly with all the required tools and filing systems to match the GTD way of working means you’ll be well on your way into being better organized than ever before!

Take Control Of Your Attention By Capturing Your Tasks In Collection Tools

Attention By Capturing

Having a system to manage your thoughts, ideas, tasks and plans is essential in this day and age.

With so many demands on our attention, it can be easy to forget important things if we don’t have a good way to capture them.

That’s why the first step in the GTD workflow recommended by Getting Things Done is to capture all of these items in external collection tools like notebooks, lists on your computer or even physical boxes where you can store objects and papers.

This includes ideas that you have on your lunch break, decisions that you need to make for work projects, buying gifts for friends and family, personal goals and reading up on topics you’re interested in.

Capturing all of these things will keep them from falling through the cracks!

And since these collection tools are external from your mind, you don’t get distracted thinking about all of these items every time something new comes along – like when writing an email or being confronted with an invoice – as they are already safely captured in one place.

It’s best to limit the number of these collection tools as much as possible so as not to cause confusion but make sure that each one contains absolutely everything you might need- no snippet of information should be forgotten!

You also want them close by wherever you go so that adding new information to them is quick and effortless.

If organizing your thoughts with collection tools often seems like an overwhelming chore then starting off by plopping all current tasks into those systems is a great way to begin.

When everything is neatly arranged into external collection tools that are well taken care of it can help ease anxiety as only then will your brain start trusting the system enough for it not constantly distract you.

The Benefits Of Regularly Emptying Your Collection Tool To Achieve Stress-Free Productivity

Maintaining an effective GTD system means regularly emptying your external collection tools.

Doing this on a weekly basis is essential: it allows you to clarify what each item is and organize the items into the right places.

Start by looking at each item in your collection tools and asking: “What is it?” The most important thing to ascertain here is whether the item is actionable or not, meaning whether you need to do something about it or not.

If it’s not actionable, then decide if it’s still needed or if it can be stored for future reference.

If the item is actionable, ask yourself what the desired end result of taking action on that item would be – if multiple steps are needed then classify this as a project.

Outline what the next physical step for the item or project should be and plan accordingly – if an action requires more than two minutes of work, then consider delegating or deferring it until later.

Make sure to empty out your external collection tools on a weekly basis and watch as you efficiently make progress toward your goals!

The Organizing Stage Of The Gtd Method: Leveraging Lists And Contexts To Transform Your To-Do List

Organizing items in the GTD method is essential for productivity.

Through this step of the process, you empty your collection tools and put everything into their corresponding categories.

Items with no future value are deleted or trashed, actionable items that can be completed in two minutes or less should be done immediately, and actionable items needing more than one step to complete become projects.

This project list should simply contain a list of projects that need to be accomplished.

If an item must be delegated to another person it goes onto the Waiting For list – such as if you need to hear from a contractor before choosing tiles for your bathroom.

If the item needs to be done at a certain time it goes into your Calendar (For example – dentist appointment 9 AM).

All other actionable items go onto the Next Action list, with each list related to a specific context – like On The Computer or On The Phone list.

Finally, anything that cannot take immediate action but may have value in the future goes on the Someday/Maybe list, while any information that could serve as reference later-on should be added to storage as reference material.

These lists are invaluable when assessing tasks and keeping them organized in an efficient manner so that they can actually get done!

The Power Of Defining Clear Next Actions: How It Transforms Productivity And Meeting Efficiency


Organizing your projects is a key component of getting things done efficiently and that’s why it’s important to keep track of them.

Natures Nutrition recommends having a “Projects list” which will provide you with a quick overview of all your current projects, allowing you to easily review and update it as necessary.

The Projects list should contain any project that needs to be completed in the near future.

However, more importantly, when you review your Projects list each week, you always need to ensure that the project has an associated clear, concrete next action.

This indicates the single physical step forward that needs to be taken for that particular project to progress towards completion.

Having this simple next action visible is essential as leaving vague actions can leave part of your brain feeling something is missing or unclear and may cause you give up on that task altogether.

Therefore, using this habit consistently will often result in an unexpected jump in productivity and efficiency.

Furthermore, this habit isn’t limited only for project management either but applies equally well for meetings too.

When discussing a point at a meeting make sure everyone knows what the next steps are by asking the question “What’s the next action?”, who will take it flas well as when they’ll do so before the conversation concludes.

Following this advice will lead to smoother workflows and accomplished goals faster than ever before!

The Power Of Project Planning: How The Natural Planning Method Can Make Any Project A Breeze

Having a sound plan for any project is critical if you want it to be successful.

However, it can be difficult to create a plan when it’s a time-consuming, complicated work task.

Thankfully, there’s a simple way to ensure your projects go smoothly each and every time.

That’s where Natural Planning comes in.

This five-step process allows you to set goals and take concrete action with confidence and ease.

It entails defining your purpose and principles, creating an outcome vision, brainstorming ideas, organizing them into coherent clusters and establishing next actions so that the project stays on track.

For instance, let’s talk about how to make a business plan that will secure funding from investors.

First, you’ll need to consider why this business plan needs to be written – what is its purpose? Once you have that answer down pat, make sure to pin down any principles you want your team or company values connected with this endeavor- it could involve not wanting anyone involved feeling overworked or aiming for an ethical outcome as well as financial success.

Then envision the finished product – like increasing sales by 5%.

After that it’s time for brainstorming ideas; don’t stop yourself from producing free flowing ideas- good or bad!

Finally organize them into meaningful categories (like those related to market research) then identify the puzzle pieces needed for the next physical action required of the project – For example “Email Dave for current revenue breakdown”- so you can stay focused and on track while working on it.

The Natural Planning process has been very effective in helping achieve goals with less stress than normal planning methods require.

Why not give it a try?

Using A Calendar And Next Action List Is The Key To Effective Task Management

Rather than relying solely on the traditional to-do list for daily productivity, people should instead opt for a Calendar and Next Action lists.

Not only is this more effective than relying on a to-do list, but it also eliminates the frustration of unrealistic planning and time wasted working on something that’s doomed from the start.

The Calendar serves one purpose – to keep appointments.

It should feature items such as time-specific actions (e.g., doctor’s appointments), day-specific actions (e.g., calling a colleague before she goes on vacation) and day-specific information (e.g., files you need to bring with you to said appointment).

Anything else should not be placed in the calendar or it could dilute its effectiveness.

Then there are Next Action lists which focus on concrete tasks that can take longer than two minutes to accomplish; these lists may be further divided into multiple context lists such as “on the phone,” “when at the supermarket,” or “on the computer”.

This way, when it comes time to engage in your task management process, you’ll know exactly what tasks can be completed depending on where you are (desk, meeting or airport, etc.).

Keep Track Of People You Are Dependent On With A Waiting For List

Track Of People

When you’re working with other people, either on projects or day-to-day activities, a Waiting For list can be very helpful.

Not only does it provide you with a comprehensive list of tasks that other people must complete in order to support your own efforts, but it also helps you stay up to date on commitments.

By creating and updating the list weekly, you will know when someone is not holding true to the timeline for their task.

When this happens, all it takes is a quick email, phone call or office visit to remind them oftheir obligations.

Additionally, if the reminder would take less than two minutes – don’t hesitate to do it right away!

In conclusion, using a Waiting For list while collaborating with others is an effective way to help ensure that everyone involved honors their commitments in a timely manner.

Lists Are The Key To Maximizing Productivity With The Gtd Method

The “Getting Things Done” (GTD) system stresses the importance of capturing all ideas and tasks that have potential future relevance.

It is recommended that everything that doesn’t fit in with either the Next Actions or Projects lists should be put onto a Someday/Maybe list.

This list generally consists of things to buy, places to travel to, skills to learn etc.

A Someday/Maybe list should not be underestimated; very often, you’ll find that many tasks on this list actually end up getting done.

The contents of the list can also be broken down into certain categories such as trips with kids etc.

It must also be reviewed regularly if it is to be used effectively.

A tickler file is another way to stay organized and remind yourself of upcoming events or tasks.

This physical filing system consists of 43 files: 31 for imminent days and 12 for upcoming months, with documents being placed onto relevant day folders each day until they eventually wind up in their month folder again.

To get maximum benefit from using a tickler file, one needs to use and update it every day religiously; this is key to the effectiveness of such a system!

Ultimately, these lists help you retrieve information at the right time and can prove more dependable than relying purely on memory alone.

The Fourth Step In The Gtd Process Is To Reflect: Establish A Weekly Review Habit As Part Of Your Productivity System

The fourth and essential step of the GTD process is to reflect on all you’ve done in order to stay up-to-date and organized.

Consistently reflecting on and reviewing your system is indispensable for working productively, as it allows you to trust your system, feel relaxed, and keep track of your current projects to make sure they are moving forward.

To begin your daily review, check your Calendar for meetings or other commitments that may affect what tasks you can undertake that day.

Then look at your Next Action lists for any phone- or computer-related tasks that may be appropriate.

You can also take a few seconds here and there to review lists when relevant context appears.

However, the most important reflection occurs during the comprehensive weekly review.

Here you should tie up any loose ends from the past week, mark off completed items in Next Action lists, maintain up-to-date status/plans/materials in Projects list, and consider whether there are any Someday/Maybe items that need follow-up now or deletion if no longer interesting.

As this vital step will require potentially multiple hours every week, it’s best to plan it consistently so that as time goes by, trust in your system will increase and give you a clear head and sense of control to close out the weekend.

How To Choose Your Next Task: 4 Criteria For Staying Productive


When it comes time to actually getting things done, the GTD process encourages you to trust your gut and base your decisions on a few criteria.

These include considering what is possible in your current context, how much time you have available, how much energy you have remaining, and which tasks align with your goals and priorities.

This allows you to select the best options based on what makes sense given the situation and will help you stay productive no matter where you are.

To do this effectively, it’s important to keep your lists with you at all times so that you can make use of any unexpected moments when they arise, whether at work or while travelling.

By considering these factors before making a decision about which tasks to focus on next, you can ensure that no matter how little time or energy is available, there is always something meaningful that can be accomplished.

Gaining Clarity Through The Understanding Of Life Horizons

Developing a better understanding of our own priorities requires us to take a bottom-up approach.

This means that instead of thinking big and trying to come up with life purpose first, we should focus on smaller, more manageable tasks and projects.

This can help us to identify where we want to go in the future by starting from where we are today.

By analyzing what tasks and long-term goals are important to prioritize, you can start building towards your bigger picture aspirations.

To do this, it’s useful to think in terms of horizons, each one progressively further away than the last.

You start by taking care of current actions or tasks at the ground level, followed by current projects on the horizon 1, areas of focus and accountability for horizon 2, one- two-year goals for horizon 3 and so on.

This way of working allows for more efficient management and use of your energy and resources – you can then direct your mental energy towards developing more meaningful decisions based on what you have already undertaken in order to get closer to achieving your life goals.

Wrap Up

Getting Things Done by David Allen is all about helping you accomplish more without feeling overwhelmed.

The five steps of this process include capturing your thoughts, clarifying each task, organizing the outcomes into lists, reflecting on what’s important and engaging with tasks.

Following these steps will help you stay organized, focused and productive in a relaxed manner.

The End of Stress by Don Joseph Goewey provides further insight into how to deal with stress once it arrives while trying to maintain productivity.

By following the four easy steps offered by the author, readers are able to build resilience and effectively tackle any roadblocks they may come across while getting things done.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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