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  • Which book to start with

    Hi,

    Is the original book "Getting Things Done" or the more recent "Making It All Work" better today as an introduction to the concept of GTD?

    While I'm new to GTD, I'm familiar with other personal improvement and time management ideas, but to date I've had limited success in sustaining a reasonable level of organisation in my life for more than a month or two. The GTD concept comes up frequently in the organisation & planning tools I'm looking at currently, so I think it would be worth spending the time to get to know it. My first thought is to start with the later book as I expect it further develops the ideas from the first, but would I be missing much by doing that?

    Alternatively are there better ways of getting started - as a rule I prefer to read up on a topic than watch videos.

    Thanks,
    Stephen

  • #2
    My opinion: Better to start with "Getting Things Done". I think it's still considered the main guide. It covers the nitty-gritty details and describes the whole system. "Making it All Work" is, in my opinion, for people who have already been trying to implement GTD and want help figuring out how to put more emphasis on the more ethereal and long-term parts of the system.

    Someone once suggested: when you do find something that you keep using longer than the other systems, try to figure out what characteristics of it help it last longer for you. I noticed that my watch which can be set to beep before appointments worked for me long-term, and a paper calendar in my pocket. I figure the watch works for me "because it's strapped to my wrist": I don't have to think about whether or not to bring it with me to the grocery store, or remember to bring it; it just comes along with no effort. Even small amounts of required effort can kill a system for me if working the system gets boring, or I'm tired when the effort is required, etc.

    I find that GTD has a lot of characteristics that make it easy to continue using long-term (for me at least). GTD requires a lot of individual choices and tweaking in how to implement it; I've also followed similar principles in individualizing it for myself, i.e. make it easy to use.

    By the way, in the "Getting Things Done" book he recommends re-organizing everything in one weekend. I don't think that's necessary. I started carrying around a notebook for GTD, blank at first, and over a number of weeks I gradually transitioned into using GTD, continuing whatever systems or non-systems I already had until I no longer needed them. Before I started GTD I felt I had no extra time in which to do that sort of transition, but starting to carry a blank notebook didn't take any significant time, and when I had ideas to write down I just started organizing them according to GTD, using the time I would have used to put them into some other system. I didn't want a sudden re-organization in one weekend; I wanted time to get used to the system.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Rattle View Post
      Is the original book "Getting Things Done" or the more recent "Making It All Work" better today as an introduction to the concept of GTD?
      For an introduction start with the first book "Getting Things Done". The later books build on the framework and lessons you learn from the first one. I think all three books are valuable and vital and worth reading and re-reading several times but you do IMO need to do them in order. You won't get what "Making It All Work" is teaching until you have internalized the radical concepts of next actions, contexts and project that you learn in "Getting Things Done". Similarly, "Ready for Anything" builds on the stages you learn in "Making it All Work".

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      • #4
        GTD book to read

        In complete agreement with @cwoodgold and @Oogie - the Getting Things Done book is all you need. I implemented GTD before GTD Connect and those tools were available and it's that first book I kept going back to. It's great reference to keep around.

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        • #5
          Thank you all, I've started reading Getting Things Done as suggested.


          Originally posted by cwoodgold View Post
          I find that GTD has a lot of characteristics that make it easy to continue using long-term (for me at least). GTD requires a lot of individual choices and tweaking in how to implement it; I've also followed similar principles in individualizing it for myself, i.e. make it easy to use.
          My issue in the past is that I can start reasonably well, but once events overtake my planning for even a few days I find it very difficult to get back into the swing of things. I'm at a good point for a fresh start now though, and not just because of the new year.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Rattle View Post
            My issue in the past is that I can start reasonably well, but once events overtake my planning for even a few days I find it very difficult to get back into the swing of things.
            Ooh you're going to like GTD; I'd put money on it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Rattle View Post
              My issue in the past is that I can start reasonably well, but once events overtake my planning for even a few days I find it very difficult to get back into the swing of things. I'm at a good point for a fresh start now though, and not just because of the new year.
              GTD is the only "time management" system I know that really addresses how to get back on the horse after you fall off. Of fall off the wagon. Or go off-course. Or whatever-metaphor-floats-your boat. I think the weekly review mantra "Get clear, get current, get creative" pretty well sums it up. What's the current reality, where are we headed, how do we get where we want to be? Often not easy, but it beats the alternatives.

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              • #8
                I agree with all of the great suggestions here. "Getting Things Done" is a foundational place to start. And the Weekly Review really is the keystone to it all. If you're not up for getting everything set up right away, then implement your system in baby steps while using the Weekly Review as the glue that will hold it all together for you.

                I would also suggest taking a look at the "Getting Started" section on GTDConnect. It will recommend some excellent resources for the beginner's path.

                But even small steps can make a big difference.

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                • #9
                  Invest time now for ongoing relief.

                  Originally posted by Roger View Post
                  Ooh you're going to like GTD; I'd put money on it.
                  I so concur! I say put the time into GTD and you'll get back into the swing of things much faster and with far less stress.

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                  • #10
                    Definitely start with the original “Getting Things Done".

                    But I have to say I keep going back to "Ready for Anything" as a refresher. “Getting Things Done” perfectly sets out the mechanics of GTD, but "Ready for Anything" beautifully describes the state of mind achievable through implementation, and all the benefits thereof.

                    I am currently re-listening to the audio of "Ready for Anything" on my daily commute (for about the tenth time). Resonates well with my “New Year’s Resolution” state of mind!

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                    • #11
                      The Movement versus the Books

                      I think maybe you will find that GTD is one thing and Getting Things Done is another.

                      If you had never heard of GTD, if you had just picked up the book(s) randomly from a shelf in a bookstore, it is possible that you would afterwards describe them as well-written books in the familiar genre of personal productivity. The books make familiar observations about how we humans tend to make mistakes that hold us back, give us down-to-earth psychological-philosophical observations about why this happens, postulate some very true and familiar tenets about what to pay attention to, and even give quite a lot of general practical advice on how to go about organizing our stuff. You will probably find that the coverage of the practical matters is much higher than in other books in this genre.

                      If, on the other hand, you are coming from the "outside" (e.g. time management app forums) and had first heard all the buzz about GTD, if you had heard people claim this and claim that and argue conflicting principles referencing various authority figures or dogms, and are reading the books to get the GTD ideas straight from the horse's mouth, then it is possible that you will not find many simple answers to why there is a "conflict". Much (most) of the material is more or less the the same observations and tenets that everyone else also describes. It is quite possible that you would not even have noticed anything controversial at all. The books are just describing the truth, and does so mainly in broad strokes. Only if you had read very different books, or heard totally different opinions, would you have seen any potential for a "conflict". But most of the "hot issues" in time management forums - such as prioritizing and scheduling - are covered in such general terms that you may perhaps not find any new "hard facts" or "arguments" or analyses or detailed prescriptions that you were not already aware of.

                      GTD, the "movement", leads its own life, quite independently of the content of the actual book(s).

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                      • #12
                        David had a good suggestion on this...

                        I recall David had a good idea on this in a podcast (don't recall where exactly, but it was circa 2006). He suggested getting Getting Things Done and Ready for Anything, reading the first third of GTD to get the overview of the system, then reading RFA to get inspired and excited about the system, and finally going back to the first book for the implementation sections.

                        That happens to be the order that I did it in, largely by accident--I read maybe five chapters of GTD, got busy, and misplaced the book. I got hungry to read more, but I didn't want to buy a second copy, so I bought RFA. It got me SUPER jazzed up about the system, so when I found GTD again I was ready to play.

                        Setting aside reading two at once, though, I do agree with the rest of the thread--start with Getting Things Done, not Making It All Work.

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                        • #13
                          I'll throw a spanner in the works and suggest the GTD Live recordings. It's a recording of the 2 day seminar, given by David, and he really brings GTD to life while walking you through the steps.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Rattle View Post
                            Hi,

                            Is the original book "Getting Things Done" or the more recent "Making It All Work" better today as an introduction to the concept of GTD?
                            My sugestion: get "Getting Things Done" as a book and get "Ready for Anything" as a supplementary audiobook. ("Ready for Anything" is more abstract but highly motivating and thus better for listing.")

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                            • #15
                              You definitely have to read "Getting Things Done" first. It is the one that introduces the rest of the books. This will be your primary motivator I must say.

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