REVIEW: Should You Read the “Getting Things Done” Book?

REVIEW: Should You Read the “Getting Things Done” Book?

Getting Things Done by David Allen is one of the instant classics of the self-help book range. With millions sold and countless success stories out there, is it still relevant? And who’s the book best for?

Famed for its approach to managing workload, there are millions around the world that have benefited from using the GTD process applying it to their own situation. By changing the way you think about a task or new email coming into your system, you’ll save huge amounts of time. The goal of the Getting Things Done book is to help you to re-frame your approach to these situations, giving you a working tactic to every new thing that enter your day and a way of tackling that.

For newbies to GTD, let’s begin with a summary of the process and how people find value in using this to plan, coordinate and make decisions around time across their day.

What is GTD?!

First published in 2001, David Allen released Getting Things Done to the masses to help reduce the stress of work and managing to-dos. The simple goal of GTD was to refine the process of selecting, clearing and managing tasks. The book covers how this using unique workflows that you can take away and use in aspects of your life.

Getting Things Done centers itself around a 5-stage process designed to help you categorise a new item coming into your system. The process has been widely praised and becomes useful for setting a premise to all new items coming in.

  1. Capture - “Collect what has your attention”

  2. Clarify - “Process what it means”

  3. Organize - “Put it where it belongs”

  4. Reflect - “Review frequently”

  5. Engage - “Simply do”

Definitions take from GTD (Getting Things Done) website: source

The five stages are the bread and butter of the book, however David explores many other themes such as the GTD workflow, implementation, perspective and other such tips to support the workflow.

This video is very helpful for applying these 5-stages. David demo’s this in real-time with a Dutch TV host - a fun way to learn about it related to a working situation.

The positive thing about GTD is that it can be applied to 99% of situations.

The open approach to the workflow means it can be applied to lots of different situations and doesn’t discriminate based on what tools you have or what resources are available to you.


For that very reason, Getting Things Done appealed to not only professionals but employees, stay at home dads, students, workers and all walks of life. The methodology itself provides a wide spectrum for lots of use cases.

Whilst many productivity books focus on tips for the times, GTD focused on creating a workflow applicable to everyone. The process is a process and not a handful of tips. The practical approach to the book makes it very classical and resembles the likes of the 4hr Work Week for actionable advice.

The benefit of GTD is, once learnt, it can be appleid into the majority workflow or tool that people use. People pride themselves on applying and using GTD every single day.

The book is so popular, there are even references to GTD lovers being part of a religion.

Is GTD Worth it?!

Discovering Getting Things Done at an early age, I wasn’t sure of the book at first.

After having failed my first year exams in high-school, GTD entered at the right time. I wanted to be able to manage my time, get the grades, whilst running my own personal side projects and secure a place at university/college.

A small endeavour for a young 16-year old at the time.

Picking up an online edition of GTD, I downloaded it on my Nexus 7 tablet (remember them) and started reading in short stints each week, applying everything I learnt over the summertime. The book was intense in terms of its principles, but this could have been my 16/17-year old attitude towards a self-help book.

The book helped me to re-position how I captured tasks, inbox items and more. The framework wasn’t in full swing for the first few months and not until I got into my full-time jobs did I really get to apply everything, but the elements of GTD really helped me to plan, organize and secure a place at university.

During that final year at high school, I helped start a sweet shop in school, launched my own personal blog, started as a leader at my local Cub scout unit, and managed to get a few small internships with local and online companies, all without too much stress.

The combination of GTD and a few other self-help books helped me to reshape my thinking around productivity.

Would I recommend GTD?

Yes, for those who don’t have a fixed system, go for it.

GTD is designed to be open and applies to most situations. The only thing I’d say is that GTD is a stepping stone for many. For me, I don’t use GTD to the nth degree. I will use the general structure as something lands in my inbox, but not the advanced delegation and trash process. Once you’re comfortable with GTD, there’s definitely room for development and your own interpretation. Like Brandi, in the video below.

A good example of where GTD would apply is when someone downloads Todoist, TickTick and just throws themselves without a method. The GTD methodology can help and boost structure of your use. Although, I continue to endorse using tools, the method behind these tools can help the foundations of your work.

The book is one of the best and is perfect for beginners to productivity and those looking to get a bit of structure with their productivity tools.

A brilliant investment of your time.

Recommended Resources

Get the GTD Book

  • Get Getting Things Done by David Allen (US/UK - Amazon)

  • Visit Getting Things Done website: here

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