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Getting things done. Or not.

I was in Chapters a month ago, killing a bit of time before my art class.

I’d been resisting a particular book for a couple of months, despite its powerful magnetic properties. It was on my wish list, but I’d been refusing to move it into my shopping cart.

Why? Because it wasn’t my kind of book, and I didn’t want to become the kind of person it promised to turn me into.

Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done

The book is called Getting Things Done. It’s one of those productivity-enhancing books. I think it’s really aimed at ambitious and hyper-organized workaholics so they can get even more done.

Me, I have a more organic approach to getting things done. Ahem.

But still, the lure was undeniable. When I saw the book in real life, at Chapter’s, I couldn’t help but pick it up and read its back cover.

What followed was a passionate little debate between the book and me.

“Buy me, buy me, buy me,” the book whispered seductively.

“I will never buy the likes of you,” I said firmly. “You’re not my type.”

“I will change your life,” it promised.

“You will enslave me,” I said.

“I will free up your time so you can spend more time doing the things you love,” it said.

One thing was for sure: this book knew my buttons.

“Well,” I said, “Do you come in an audiobook format? Because I don’t have time to actually read you.”

I didn’t find it in Chapter’s audiobook section, but a few minutes later I found myself drawn back to the book, and I stood there stroking its spine.

“I don’t cost very much,” the book pointed out.

“Hmph,” I said.

“I’m not very big.” the book purred, “You could devour me in no time at all.”

In the end I bought the book. But you probably already knew that.

The thing is, there are so many things I want to get done. There are books to read and write and a job to find and gardens to plan and recipes to try and a body to maintain and art to create and yarn to knit and floors to wash and things to learn and email and friends and finances and on and on and on. And now there’s a book called Getting Things Done sitting on my coffee table snickering at me. It’s been at the top of my to-do list for a month now. The irony is not lost on me.

However, having lived with the book this long, I think I can safely say the book and I both overestimated ourselves. It’s probably not going to change my life, and I’m probably not in any danger of becoming a slave to productivity.

9 comments to Getting things done. Or not.

  • Shoot. I was hoping you would reveal the book’s secrets here. The older I get, the more I feel time is running out, and I have so many things I want to do before crossing over.

    BTW, I have similar conversations with diet books, with my side of the argument being “You are not going to tell me anything I don’t already know” while the book makes fantastic but empty promises of weight loss without hunger pangs or exercise.

  • grace

    I was counting on you to precis this book and pass on some good advice; I’m older than you. Help.

  • hah. My mom had the audiocassette version of that book. Never saw her listen to it. She was probably too busy getting things done.

    – RG>

  • Forewarned is forewarned: googling GTD will lead you to worlds of productivity p0rn/nerdiness. There are apps and explanations galore. GTD is almost cultlike. (And yeah it works if you stick to it just like most other things.)

    Here’s a handy PDF that sums up the whole process:

    And yes, I have this hanging over my work desk and yes I have fiddled with multiple GTD apps. Do I stick to it all the time? Not exactly. But it does create a helpful illusion of control and order.

  • Carmen

    Hey, Zoom, keep us posted…’cause it’s on my read list too, and I, also, have been wrestling with the yes-no powers….

  • Tom Sawyer

    If you don’t like it, return it.

    That’s the way it is these days.

  • Jen Gilbert

    Don’t read the book, just join the facebook group!

  • David Allen’s system is very elaborate and all-encompassing. In the end, I found that it wasn’t worth all the bother, though I did incorporate a few elements into my current system.

    Perhaps it is a level of organization required by high-powered businesspeople, but it seems like overkill for ordinary lives.

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