Making It All Work

In 2008 I purchased David Allen's book "Getting Things Done" - a book that combines time management, organization, and prioritization in one well structured package. I loved it and implemented some but not all of his suggestions. In 2011 a friend of mine suggested that I read David's third book, "Making It All Work", which expanded on the same themes and provided further information.

It's important to be clear up front that this book is based on that first book, refers to it fairly often, and is covering much of the same material. He does attempt to structure the book so that newcomers can "catch up" along the way, but I'd suggest people read the first book first. As it turns out, since three years had passed between me reading that first book and this one, I appreciated the catch-up material. That being said, he spends the first 26 pages just yammering about why his system is so brilliant and beloved, and it's only after 26 pages that you even are told what his system is all about. That was frustrating. He should have begun with an overview and summary so the reader could relate to the things he was saying.

That being said, again the core of what he's explaining is extremely valuable. Anyone can learn these skills, and they make common sense. Your brain is great at being creative - so let other systems manage to-do lists and tracking things to remember so your brain isn't bogged down with those tasks. You don't try to memorize if your car needs gas or what its mileage is - you use gauges for that so your brain can be free to do the more important tasks of driving. So use calendars and lists to manage your life for you.

Free up your brain's time. Redundant thinking on the same to-do topics is a waste of time. Studies also show that the brain works best when it concentrates and focuses on one task. So help your brain do that.

The book uses the same type of important / urgent grid as other systems, here calling the grid perspective and control. The key is to try to work on things that are important and that you have control over. For each task on your list, figure out the next small step you can take so that you can easily scan and perform those tasks.

The focus aspect of this is key. Be mindful of what you're doing at any point in time. Journal your thoughts. Brainstorm and write down ALL ideas without judging them. The more you practice brainstorming and writing, the easier it gets.

Most of us have "stuff" all over the place waiting to be handled. By gathering things into one place, then sorting them, and setting up "homes" for them all, it helps make life much more manageable. You can even make a list for when you're "brain dead" - so that when you're exhausted you can simply choose an item and make some progress.

Be sure to scan the lists weekly to see if some items should be crossed off, and if new ones should be added on! That way you keep your lists under control and a part of your regular schedule.

Was it worth me getting this new book instead of just re-reading the initial one? I like to think that the more varied ways I read about something, the more it sinks in. I'm not sure if just re-reading a previous book would have made as much impact on me as hearing it in a different way. So while I do feel the intro was long winded and could be better written, I enjoyed the book immensely and it's revitalized my interest in mapping out my projects more thoroughly. So it did its job!

I purchased this book from Amazon with my own funds.

Buy Making It All Work from Amazon.com

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