Getting Things Done Summary

Do you like doing things in a relaxed manner and have more done with less effort? This is what Getting Things Done by David Allen will teach you. This bestseller is packed to the brim with invaluable insights that you can use in your work. Gone will be the days of feeling all burnt out and stretched thin.

Many people lose their way in between because of not clarifying what the intended outcome in whatever they are doing is supposed to be. David Allen teaches you how to get things done effectively and in a stress-free manner. Read this complete Getting Things Done summary to get a feel of the book.


Chapter 1: A new practice a new reality – In this chapter the author introduces the reader to the basics of his method. He also introduces the fact that many professionals and business people are facing nowadays.

Some of these challenges are; there are so many things to be done with so little resources, work doesn’t have clear boundaries, the jobs keep changing, and the old habits and methods are insufficient.  To overcome these problems, a professional is required to focus on values so they can have clarity and purpose.

Chapter 2: Getting Control of your life: The five stages of mastering workflow – in this chapter Allen discusses the five stages you can use to master the workflow. These stages are; capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage.

Chapter 3: Getting projects creatively underway: The five phases of project planning – in this chapter the five phases you can use for planning your projects are discussed. To have relaxed control of your projects, you need to;

  1. Define the outcomes and the next actions required to achieve those outcomes
  2. Have reminders placed in a trusted system that you review regularly.

The five phases for project planning discussed are; defining purpose and principles, outcome visioning, brainstorming, organizing and identifying next actions.


Chapter 4: Getting started: Setting up the time, space and tools – you need to have the essential tricks that will help you get things started and set up quickly. You need to have a block of time created or freed, so you have enough time for what you need to do. Set up a space either in an office, home or both and finally have the necessary tools to help you achieve to the maximum.

Chapter 5: Collection: Corralling your “stuff” – this just means that you have to gather everything you need to process. This gives you a sense of the volume that you will be dealing with and reduces distractions when you have started working.

Chapter 6: Processing: Getting “in” to empty – here now you have finally started the processing. During the process, you will have to ask yourself, what is this you are processing? Is it actionable? If it is not actionable then it has three possibilities; trash, incubate or reference. If it is actionable then you have the following options; do it, delegate it or defer it for a later time.

Chapter 7: Organizing: Setting up the right buckets – when you are organized and deal with all the little matters properly, you free up your mind so it can engage in undistracted and intuitive focusing. You will need tools such as lists, folders, calendars, files, filing systems, computers, emails, databases, and many others to keep you organized.

Allen discusses all of these issues in great detail and shows you how to use them.

Chapter 8: Reviewing: keeping your system functional – your systems must be reviewed regularly so that they are up to date and relevant. The idea behind being organized is not that your brain can completely relax.

It is done to ensure that you have space for exceptional and relaxed performance. You, therefore, have to keep reviewing the systems to show you what you have been doing and what you have not been doing.

Chapter 9: Doing: Making the best action choices – after everything is in order you have to act to get work done. You can use the four criteria model to choose your actions in the moment. This model created by Allen involves making choices based on context, time availability, energy available and priority.

At the end of the day, you will need to evaluate the work that you have done so you know what to do tomorrow or in the next working hours

Chapter 10: Getting Projects under control – you need to use common sense when it comes to getting projects under control. Thinking naturally about these projects will give you the best next course of action that you should take. You might need to brainstorm, hold meetings, gather information and organize things.


Chapter 11: The power of the collection habit – “maintaining an objective inventory of your work makes it much easier to say no with integrity.” When you have mastered your collection habit, you are sure of everything that you have done and what you have to do. You are fully aware of your work, and you will be relaxed as you do it.

Chapter 12: The power of the next action decision – you should always be asking yourself “what’s the next action.” With this in mind, Allen found out that you will become more productive and energetic to carry out the next action on your list. Your mind becomes fully prepared and aware of what needs to be done.

Chapter 13: The power of outcome focusing – finally you need to see the outcome already. When you focus on the outcome that you intend, then you are aware of the process, and your work will have meaning. When you focus on the result, you work in unison with others because you all have the same goal in mind.

What I Like about the Book

I like that this book is very detailed. Really by the end of the book, you will be able to have things going for you. It contains strategies, techniques, and methods that you can adapt to your work. The book is very actionable for any professional or business person.

Why You Should Read the Book

The book will give you methods and techniques that you can implement in your daily work habits to become more productive and achieve a lot without getting stressed. It is becoming a basic requirement for professionals nowadays to be able to work at elevated levels of effectiveness and efficiency.

Next summary: Mastery

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