HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

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Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems

Martin Kleppmann

4.8 on Amazon

241 HN comments

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Jared Diamond Ph.D.

4.5 on Amazon

239 HN comments

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Cal Newport

4.6 on Amazon

239 HN comments

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Robert C. Martin

4.7 on Amazon

232 HN comments

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

David Allen and Simon & Schuster Audio

4.5 on Amazon

231 HN comments

The Three-Body Problem

Cixin Liu, Luke Daniels, et al.

4.3 on Amazon

225 HN comments


William Gibson, Robertson Dean, et al.

4.4 on Amazon

218 HN comments

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Hardcover Journal and Elder Wand Pen Set

Insight Editions

4.8 on Amazon

212 HN comments

Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Erich Gamma , Richard Helm , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

208 HN comments

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

4.5 on Amazon

193 HN comments

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari, Derek Perkins, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

191 HN comments

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition)

Benjamin Graham , Jason Zweig , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

188 HN comments

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

Charles Petzold

4.6 on Amazon

186 HN comments

Seveneves: A Novel

Neal Stephenson, Mary Robinette Kowal, et al.

4.1 on Amazon

184 HN comments

Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions

Gayle Laakmann McDowell

4.7 on Amazon

180 HN comments

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Sorted by relevance

juaniuxonApr 17, 2020

I use Todoist to keep track of tasks and projects. Checkout the book "Getting Things Done" or search for GTD on the web, plenty of tools. There's also free Kanban boards on the web. Software projects get a GitHub account.

olegiousonMay 1, 2018

I loved the book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" - the system is pretty simple and gives you a great framework for not only organizing all your projects and tasks but also helps with prioritization.

waqasadayonFeb 21, 2018

“noprocrast” is a great tip, and for FB I suggest Chrome extension called News Feed Eradicator.

Also I suggest book Getting Things Done by David Allen.

oldmancoyoteonOct 25, 2018

Reading Getting Things Done and fitting it into my life. It made a huge difference.

phodoonFeb 3, 2016

Looks great, but agree w the Tinder part not resonating. Isn't this more "Getting Things Done - by David Allen" for email? [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done

pdqonNov 20, 2016

This is a repeat of the famous Getting Things Done book, which covers prioritizing your life through organization and scheduling.

tedmistononJune 3, 2017

A popular recommendation here, but Getting Things Done by David Allen.

tomeonJuly 7, 2013

Getting Things Done is so comprehensive in this regard it would be nice if related articles explicitly referred to it. It's a great reference point, in my opinion.

XplosiveoctopusonSep 14, 2019

Read and fully implement Getting Things Done by David Allen. It’ll free up your mind even more.

whatusernameonFeb 3, 2011

If you're planning on running a business: The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber.

If you don't have your own shit togethor productivity wise: Getting Things Done, David Allen.

This: http://managinghumans.com/ might be what you're after in terms of Engineering/Development management

gibsonf1onJuly 3, 2007

Has anyone here looked into David Allen's "Getting Things Done" ideas? (Mentioned in the article with a link: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/business2_archive/2007/07/01/100117066/index.htm

A good friend of mine has been bugging me about how great this is for a couple years.

TichyonJune 6, 2007

I could recommend my soon to be published book "How to finish reading 'Getting Things Done'". If only I would finish writing it one of these days...

cpetersoonDec 28, 2017

Getting Things Done (GTD) is probably the most popular personal agile-like process. I highly recommend reading the first book. It was a real eye opener for me, but beware: it is easy for people to get too focused on optimizing their "perfect" GTD system and tools. Just keep it simple. :)

timrosenblattonJune 3, 2014

That's a cool experiment. Feels like something from Getting Things Done, which is a great book. Also kind of feels like Ben Franklin-ish, who made very specific and conscious attempts to improve himself.

Are you doing this, or did you just think it was cool and wanted to share?

twobyfouronSep 13, 2017

I recommend reading a book called Getting Things Done, by David Allen. It lays out a methodology for making sure that at any given moment you are doing the most valuable thing you could be, given your current context - so that you feel like you're moving the right things forward.

jesonAug 30, 2013

This article made me think about David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) system / methodology.

One of the ideas in GTD is that by getting organized and using a trusted reminder system, you free up some subconscious processing capacity.

I have found GTD to be helpful.

DenisMonMay 16, 2008

Amazon has a wide selection of books on CD. "Good To Great", "Getting Things Done", etc.


glenmorangie_14onApr 27, 2021

I really enjoyed the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. It talks a lot about his productivity system "GTD" and his rules on prioritizing. It contains a lot of fluff, so I'd recommend buying a hard copy (or going to a library) so you can skim it more easily.

prateekdayalonNov 3, 2010

Getting Things Done


So that I can read more and do other things :)

patrickmayonJan 26, 2014

This is a variant of David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. Instead of three items, he recommends always knowing what the most important task is for any project, and doing that.

Definitely worth a look.

gnodeonFeb 14, 2018

Can anybody suggest any management practises for single person projects? While you could do Agile / Scrum, elements of them (the meetings) are certainly not applicable. I've heard of Getting Things Done, which seems to have parallels with agile.

earlonFeb 27, 2009

Take a nap, feel better, then triage. Do things in priority order and don't stop working on item #1 until it's finished or you're blocked.

In your spare time, read Getting Things Done. Even if you don't like the book, it's decent advice.

znpyonAug 2, 2016

My rant from when I was reading "getting things done" by David Allen: on about 250 pages, the first 80-100 pages are about how good is the GTD system.


jvdhonMay 16, 2011

Just about everything of David Allen's Getting Things Done concept is taken from somewhere else. He just combined them into one workflow system that seems to work well for most people.

KagerjayonSep 4, 2018

haven't read a ton of nonfiction, but these were good

- Thinking fast, and slow

- 7 habits of highly effective people

- Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

- Getting Things Done

- Choose Yourself

dinkumthinkumonJune 18, 2009

There sure are a lot of posts going to this web site on HN lately. These are all exactly the kinds of books I don't like. The only one I have considered reading is "Getting Things Done."

cpetersoonJuly 16, 2012

David Allen's "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" is a good companion to The Seven Habits. GTD focuses a little more on the geeky mechanics of self-organization/prioritization.

mcqueenjordanonJan 12, 2019

Book — Getting Things Done

Emacs org-node with org-todo.

inbox.org: captured items that need to be processed

gtd.org: processed items being tracked

someday.org: processed items not actively being worked on or towards

tyngonOct 19, 2010

Read the productivity bible "Getting Things Done" (GTD), which outlines a systematic approach to get yourself more organised and ready to take actions.

If in doubt, just google "GTD" to find out more. There are tons of third-party applications to help you implement the system

extantprojectonAug 15, 2010

An atom is < 256 characters of text.

Doing GTD helps, since that's primarily what Atombox is designed for, but I think having a "augmented memory" service helps any information/knowledge worker.


edited to clarify: an "atom" is our lingo, not something in the "Getting Things Done" book.

ambitiononMay 13, 2008

There is literally a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen. The system in its entirety is too hard core for most people (myself included) but the principles are good.

liwonDec 27, 2013

I use a variant of David Allen's "Getting Things Done" (GTD) system. I wrote a little booklet about my implementation of it, to have a convenient place to point people at when they're curious.


vlonMar 13, 2010

Ironically, I feel that Getting Things Done (of all things :) needs this treatment more than many other books. I think GTD ideas would be much better digestible in form of concise 30-50 page article as opposed to the tedious and inflated read the actual book is.

omouseonJune 5, 2007

Reminds me of Getting Things Done...I should really finish that book ;)

mattplmonMay 23, 2021

I don't think it works for everyone, but I've read a lot of good from people religiously applying the GTD[0] method. Though it is a very strict method and a lot of people will get discouraged quickly when trying to apply it.

[0] Getting things done - David Allen https://gettingthingsdone.com/

lauriegonApr 20, 2020

I'm glad that the article acknowledges procrastination as an emotional issue, not an organisational one. Reading Getting Things Done or using a new Todo list app does not do anything for procrastination. The slight bump is just down to novelty.

janwillembonMay 7, 2020

Two sets of ideas:

1. Getting Things Done (David Allen) as a system to organize and reorganize my life,
2. How to win friends and influence people (Dale Carnegie), as a way of treating other people

dogruckonNov 4, 2017

I abide by David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) method. I use OmniFocus as my tool.

I also think the ideas in Extreme Ownership are useful to stay motivated.

PeOeonApr 30, 2018

I would recommend books like "eat that frog" or "getting things done". They show great insides of productivity methods and gave me something to think about. I can establish them in my daily business life and enhance my productivity.

officemonkeyonOct 12, 2011

You seem to be having trouble setting priorities. Shall I:

a. Purchase "The 7 habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey?

b. Purchase "Getting Things Done" by David Allen?

c0ffeekatonJan 26, 2017

I bought Getting Things Done and I regretted it. If you're constantly forgetting things and completely unorganized then it's probably worth it. I'm a naturally motivated, self-starter kind of person and I found GTD was just overkill for me.

karmelappleonNov 20, 2016

Getting Things Done does not focus on concretely scheduling tasks for specific times and dates, unless I missed a huge piece of that book.

miguelrochefortonNov 13, 2017

Getting Things Done is by far the most influential book I've read. It has changed the way I think about everything.

However, I have never been able to find a good implementation of the system. I know that David Allen (GTD) and Charles Simonyi (Intentional Software) were working on something at some point, but I haven't heard anything since.

kevlar1818onFeb 3, 2018

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen. Whether as a recent graduate toiling with life decisions or as a recent graduate student juggling life, work, and school, I read this book about 2 to 5 years too late.

miguelrochefortonAug 10, 2016

"Getting Things Done" by David Allen

I've been obsessed with productivity and mindfulness ever since.

officemonkeyonSep 29, 2013

Hasn't the Harvard Business Review ever read the book "Getting Things Done?"

Anyone serious about managing their time is familiar with each of these problems and develops their To-Do list with these complexities in mind.

The To-Do list is dead. Long live the To-Do list.

axiomdata316onNov 13, 2017

Cal Newport wrote the book "Deep Work". David Allen wrote "Getting Things Done". Do you mean David Allen instead of Cal Newport?

miguelrochefortonDec 15, 2016

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Look no further.

ijustwanttovoteonJune 19, 2020

I just finished Getting Things Done by David Allen https://amzn.to/2YQvRHT. He does a good job of explaining how to organize your to do list.

I use Things 3 for my check list.
I use Streaks for habits.
I use Bear for writing.
I use Pocket for read it later.

floxyonJune 14, 2021

After reading the 1 and 2 star reviews, is there any one particular point that differentiates this book from the others? (Getting Things Done, Eat the Frog, The Now Habit, etc.)

zwischenzugonMay 10, 2018

> #1 write everything down #2 review and cull your list every day #3 do things off your list

That's pretty much the 'Getting Things Done' book in a sentence! Though the advice is every week, not day in the book, and latterly changed to 'whenever works' with the advent of web systems to track tasks.

akulbeonJune 5, 2017

I think this is part of David Allen's rationale behind the "Getting Things Done" book/methodology. If you've organized your to-do list in even a rudimentary fashion, that takes some of the cognitive load away.

sahil_videologyonJan 14, 2014

Have you checked out Audible? There are plenty of options. I prefer biographies and self-help books. I recently listened to "Getting Things Done" by David Allen and "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.

murraybonJan 2, 2010

The Snowball, Alice Schroeder

Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

The Art of Happiness, HH Dalai Lama

Getting Things Done (I know I'm late to the party...)

Shop Class as Soulcraft, Matthew Crawford (I heard about that one here, thank-you HN)

On Writing, Stephen King

nickbonMar 22, 2007

There's plenty of interesting books out there and many are fairly specific for the task you're trying to solve. The book that has helped me out the most is Getting Things Done by David Allen:


It's better than any other personal development book.

starquakeonNov 21, 2016

That sounds a bit like the Next Actions and the Someday/Maybe lists of Getting Things Done by Dave Allen. You might want to look into that. I love it!

praptakonJuly 10, 2010

"The Now Habit" by Neil Fiore. Much closer to the roots of productivity (inner motivation) than other books on this topic. If you liked "Getting Things Done" or "7 Habits" but somehow cannot implement the advice then TNH might help you.

mironathetinonMar 5, 2012

The OP describes one of the strategies that David Allen recommends in his famous book: Getting things done.

It is about freeing the mind for productivity by getting rid of all distractions. The challenge is to identify the distractions and get them done immediately.

If you want more discoveries of that kind, this book is very useful.

krschultzonDec 12, 2008

Basically, the article says David Allen is right. Getting Things Done is a religion to many, but for me it was a collection of a bunch of little tips that really did help. For $9 its worth a read.

reificatoronJune 9, 2017

You should check out the book "Getting Things Done", which is based on taking what you described and using it to stay organized and adaptable. If you've got anxiety it would probably help at least a little bit.

drcodeonOct 17, 2016

It doesn't work for everyone, but based on your symptoms you are the target audience for the classic book "Getting Things Done"- That book is all about getting rid of those "fuzzy" tasks that are ill-defined and leading to poor productivity.

cbthiessonMar 12, 2008

Getting Things Done, by David Allen

anything by Edward Tufte

The Singularity Is Near, by Ray Kurzweil

Dip, by Seth Godin

thewordpainteronMar 27, 2011

For efficiency's sake, I love the idea of directing managers to keep emails under 60 words. As David Allen described in Getting Things Done, if it takes you more than two minutes to address a note, put it off. Every email should be addressable as they come through.

Also think the no-laptop rule during meetings is important for a company like Google that has so many defections. I've experienced for myself how much of a distraction open laptops can be. Need everybody to think creatively.

NoahTheDukeonJan 3, 2014

It reminds me of Getting Things Done: Collecting things, processing how they need to be handled, organizing them, and then either doing them or removing them. And the whole time, you're tracking what's been done and what's been left behind.

gte910honSep 11, 2011

Read 2 books:

1.Getting things Done

2.The Now Habit

If it's just getting mired up in what to do, the first will help

If you have agreed to do silly things, the second one will.

osconDec 5, 2010

Getting Things Done - since reading it in the spring, it's changed the way I approach projects. I would have been SO much more productive when I actually had time to kill in my 20s.

rvbonFeb 3, 2011

Getting Things Done is a permanent resident of my bookshelf (and OmniFocus is one of all of my devices). That's exactly the sort of guide I was looking for, but for a company instead of for an individual. So I am very eager to check out your other recommendations; thank you very much.

Robin_MessageonOct 31, 2011

Dave Allen's Getting Things Done suggests having multiple levels of task/tactical/strategic/life tracking and review, roughly like you are describing, although doesn't suggest a special view for it.

znpyonJan 25, 2020

The thing I dislike the most about self-help/self-improvement books (example: Getting things done, by David Allen) is that they spend a lot of the book trying to convince you that their method work.

What I'm saying is: I already bough a copy of the book, you don't have to convince me anymore. I already gave you my money. Just explain me the stuff.

merceronDec 22, 2014

The importance and value of getting 'stuff' out of my head was perhaps the most valuable thing I got from reading 'Getting Things Done'. And even after giving up on using the 'full' GTD approach, I've kept the core ideas of 'getting stuff out of your head' and 'making it as actionable as possible' in my system.

(I also kept the 2-minute rule: if you can do it in 2 minutes, do it right away.)

officemonkeyonMar 24, 2011

That's the whole idea behind David Allen's "Next Actions" in the "Getting Things Done" book.

Sure, the goal might be "Lose 50 lbs", but the "Next action" is "Do 20 min of exercise today". Often turning your "to-do" list into things you can actually DO is all it takes.

maximponJuly 3, 2018

> 3. Someday/Maybe: This is the list of things that you one day want to do, but don’t need to get done now (e.g. read a book).


Schedule a guitar lesson

Order the book Getting Things Done by David Allen


Man, this guy really gets me.

organsnyderonJune 30, 2018

That's one of the key things I learned when I read the Getting Things Done book. If I'm stressing out about the number of different tasks I need to get done, capturing them (whether writing them down, putting them in Trello, etc.) helps me to not dwell on them, allowing me to more easily focus on a single task.

hassingonSep 5, 2009

Indeed. How dare they advertise a book by giving advice that relate to it.

The important things to remember when reading books like Getting Things Done and 4 Hour Work Week is that they are not written specifically for you. If you read them, take the advice that fit /your/ life from them - then they're pretty good books.

I read this article as basically: If you feel unproductive at times then don't panic. Which seems like good advice.

Reading it and getting mad because it wasn't exactly what you hoped is not very zen. :)

miguelrochefortonFeb 5, 2019

Getting Things Done - David Allen

Writing thoughts down changes everything.

csaonSep 21, 2018

tl;dr — Pretend like it didn’t happen. The company failed you, not the other way around.


Unless you credibly represented yourself as someone who could produce from “day 1” (figuratively), then you should probably still be in the training/development mode with a senior person giving you a significant amount of support and scaffolding. This sounds especially true since you say you had no experience with the stack. If they were giving you support, then the issue was most likely with your senior person rather than you.

The only possible way that you failed was simply by not doing work by spending entire days procrastinating (note that most folks only have about 4 or 5 strong productive hours of thought work a day). If that’s the case, I recommend you read the book Getting Things Done.

As others have mentioned, don’t even list in on your resume. Resumes have “relevant” experience, and it sounds like that company was irrelevant in terms of your development.

pagemanonFeb 20, 2010

try to read the book "Getting Things Done" - what helped me was the 2 minute rule - do anything you can finish in 2 minutes immediately - it will immediately clear up a lot of time in your schedule and you can move to more challenging things - alternatively try to break projects down to something you can do in X amount of minutes ;)

TichyonJuly 27, 2010

I had the same thought when I tried to read "Getting Things Done". The text is sprinkled with small info boxes of wisdom, which made it next to impossible for me to focus on reading the text. That really amused me at the time.

zwischenzugonJan 24, 2016

I've automated large chunks of my life.

I have a JIRA for everything I do with customized workflows, and among many other projects I built this:


to mail me when subjects interesting to me come up on HN.

I recommend reading 'Getting Things Done' and working at your own pace. Focus on the things you're motivated to do, not what you think you should be doing - that's what a paid job is for!

visitor4rmindiaonMar 26, 2009

I find David Allen's "Getting Things Done" to be an excellent system for managing tasks.

I've been using GTD for the past four years and I can honestly say it has really improved my handling of time and tasks.

Additionally, it has really really reduced my stress levels because I know I haven't forgotten anything and I never miss anything important.

mantisimoonAug 2, 2013

Have a look at a book called "Getting results the agile way". It's a simple process which you could probably glean from reading the introduction. Essential you choose 3 things each day that are important for you to solve, 3 things each week, 3 things each month.. You can see where this is going...Or as a quick (great way) to boost to your productivity have a look at the 'pomodoro technique' There is also another great book called "Getting Things Done" but that takes much more effort and takes a somewhat anal approach to managing every conceivable thing if your life.

tmalyonDec 12, 2018

Never Split the Difference - I loved this book and would highly recommend it to sharpen your negotiation skills.

Extreme Ownership - I also really enjoyed this book. I listened to the audio and it was read by the authors. Both Navy Seals, the stories they used about their time in war was very eye opening. The concepts are all about leadership, and if you a manager or part of a team, you will get some benefit.

Getting Things Done - 2001 edition, very practical approach to organizing everything on your plate. I will probably re-read this again.

Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens - a great book that has great tips on learning for kids and adults.

A Philosophy of Software Design - still reading it, I really am enjoying it so far. I like the big picture approach it takes to discussing software design and complexity.

Mindset - I just started this book. So far it is just explaining the general concept in different ways. I am hoping the latter part will get into some practical tips and methods.

miguelrochefortonNov 5, 2017

Getting Things Done - David Allen

Helps me live in the present and not stress about the future.

tmalyonDec 30, 2019

Getting Things Done - the 2001 version I read two years ago, I use the general idea and it helps to have a clear head when your fighting fires daily.

Never Split the Difference - some very practical negotiation strategies.

Mini Habits by Stephen Guise - short book but awesome method. I am still doing the one pushup habit since last March.

How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck by Steve Stockman - I wanted to improve my video production for my programming course for kids. I am still learning but this book has been a huge help.

The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking by Barbara Minto - huge help with improving my written communication at my job.

The Coaching Habit by Michael Stanier - short book but huge help when your transitioning to managing people.

Made to Stick by Dan Heath - was a huge help in planning how I would teach elementary students last month about programming.

The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch - aside from application of Pareto principle, I took away the idea that books provide the best bang for your buck for knowledge density.

The 4 Hour Work Week - great inspiration to start your own thing.

The $100 Startup - like the 4HWW but with more details.

spsphulseonJuly 31, 2019

I was on Amazon to buy the book 'Getting Things Done' by David Allen. And I stumbled onto some really odd reviews that didn't make sense. So I parsed the reviews and did some basic analysis.

tmalyonMar 21, 2019

Getting Things Done (2001) by David Allen - great method to organize all your tasks and stay on top of things

Clean Coder by Bob Martin - good ideas on being a professional programmer

A Philosophy of Software Design by John Ousterhout - big picture ideas on design

Test Driven Development by Kent Beck - good basis for thinking about design and testing

Legacy Code by Michael Feathers - understanding the issues of legacy code helps us to design better software

simonhfrostonSep 7, 2018

I have a similar system but with the addition of an easily searchable 'reference' system. It serves to extract ideas from what I would normally confuse with tasks, in order to keep my task system lean and approachable.

I took it from David Allen's 'Getting Things Done'. I'd recommend it for anyone looking to start or adopt a similar system.

hundoloonFeb 9, 2021

I get that too. A couple of things that have helped me with that are a version of "Getting Things Done" (gets tasks out of my mind) and genuine solitude. By that I mean don't read anything, watch anything, etc. No inputs, just your own mind. Just sit there and zone out a little. Nudge your mind with reflective thoughts like, "What's important to me? What do I want out of life? How do I feel lately?" Meditation emphasizes stepping back and not putting judgment on things like that, which I think can be healthy, but this is kind of the other side of the coin and helps get a little more of that closure you're talking about.

pgrovesonJan 18, 2021

Batching things into 'contexts' is the premise of Getting Things Done by David Allen. It was popular in the early 2000s. My guess is that the older engineer that told the author to batch things was referencing it [1]. It's a business book based on aggressively making and prioritizing todo lists and then working on them in contexts like 'email', 'phone calls', etc.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done

nasonJan 6, 2012

We are three levels removed from the original post. This all seems very meta. ;-)

Anyhow, I don't have much for tips. I was like the OP, too confident from my own good and was almost crushed by a college engineering program.

I think my main problem is I often accomplish things by with intense fits of work. It's easy to underestimate the effectiveness of the slow-and-steady approach. I'm still working on improving with that.

Regarding college, my advice is go to class, do the reading, do the assignments. If you can find a group to study and do homework with, that helps. I'd also recommend reading "Getting Things Done". The power of identifying the next task for a project is truly amazing and the "get it out of your head" ready does reduce stress.

benatkinonAug 5, 2010

Good article. I think it would be better if he used a counter-example or two, to make sure readers knew what he meant by "Business Books". For example, according to Amazon, "Getting Things Done" is a business book (two of the three categories it's in are subcategories of "Business"), but has specific actions that could help many startup founders.


jivesonDec 30, 2016

Agreed. Your personal process is incredibly important, and lists or more advanced productivity tools are there to support that process.

Years ago I put into practice David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology. While I've significantly customized my own process since then, I still use techniques like immediate capture. When a todo / idea / concern comes up, I quickly capture it in a holding area and get back to what I was doing. Then I intentionally revisit that list at regular intervals to pick off items with my full attention.

impostironJan 12, 2019

Okay, this won't be the clearest answer here because I didn't have a system I am extremely happy about right now. However, I have tried alot of the other suggestions here. I will try to offer my opinion on a few tools / systems.

1. Getting Things Done: The flow chart he provides is the key feature of the book. Most of the other advice is mediocre, in my opinion. https://lifedev.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/gtd-workflow....

2. org-mode: It is incredibly powerful, honestly, the most powerful productivity / todo app. However, I found that this power slowed down my process, and I find that kills my productivity. If you love powerful, complex tools, org-mode is for you.

3. Todoist: it is an adequate list app; if thats all you need, it works well. Also, it has an open api, but I never used it.

4. Todo.txt / Markor: this is my current setup. Markor is a really nice android app; https://github.com/gsantner/markor . I generally like the philosophy behind todo.txt. It forces you to simplify your todos. My main problem is that notifications aren't a part of the programs at all.

I hope this is useful to someone.

avenger123onOct 8, 2013

I find that you likely need to determine if you are extremely detail oriented or not in your life. Do you like putting due dates on everything and following checklists? Or are you more carefree.

I have found its best to not fight your own personality. Getting Things Done (GTD) is very popular but if it doesn't suit you, then there is other things to try.

Personally, I am following the Personal Kanban approach. Jim Benson has more details at http://www.personalkanban.com/. I use mind mapping to layout everything for myself in my life (things I need to do, my goals, books I want to read, etc.) I looked at the many different online products for mind mapping but settled on buying Novamind 5. Mindjet's Mind Manager is supposed to be really the best but I didn't want to pay the premium. Xmind is also good and free. The main thing with Novamind and other commercial offerings is the import capability (you can import Mind Manager maps easily). Sites like biggerplate are incredible for the amount of free mind maps others have put together.

I use Trello has a kanban board (backlog, this week, today, now, done) and organize my week with this. I don't use due dates period. I bought into Omnifocus on both the Mac and iPhone but just couldn't stick with it.

I am finding that with this approach, I am able to stay on track more.

This document from Paul Klipp http://paulklipp.com/images/PersonalProductivity.pdf describes this approach nicely. I am using his approach as a guide but with my own tweaks.

These tools are not magic bullets. You still need the discipline to stick with it to see the payoffs, but they definitely can help.

udrronNov 3, 2010

I've been reading Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go" on and off over the course of these last 5 months or so, even though the other book I am reading is "Getting Things Done".

tptacekonApr 8, 2008

This definitely does seem like the Top 10 Traits of a Rockstar Java Developer. Agile, unit tested, gang of four patterns, refactored, usability-engineered.

I guess my favorite part is that it ends in "knows basic computer science". Yeah, that's good to know. Also, the rest of computer science can come in handy. But definitely, read Getting Things Done and Refactoring first; that'll definitely be more helpful than LALR parsing for getting forms hooked up to databases.

crsmithonAug 18, 2010

FWIW, in the book Getting Things Done, David Allen mentions being "in the zone" (or "mind like water," which he mentions comes from karate) is a key to being more productive.

It makes sense our flight-or-fight instinct could put us in the zone, much like your comment describes.

I've been trying to harness that power (but in more non-life-threatening situations, like at work).

anderspitmanonFeb 5, 2019

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I'll throw in several more favorites that have changed the way I think over the years, in no particular order:

* The Righteous Mind - Jonathan Haidt

* 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey

* The Emperor of all Maladies - Siddhartha Mukherjee

* The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

* Getting Things Done - David Allen

* The Worthing Saga - Orson Scott Card

* The 4-Hour Work Week - Timothy Ferriss

* The 5 Love Languages - Gary Chapman

* The Total Money Makeover - Dave Ramsey

mariedavidonApr 29, 2021

Deep Work, by Cal Newport : to focus on what matters.
The talent code, by Danie Coyle : to understand the value of deliberate practice.
Brain at work, astonishingly useful mixing practical neuroscience and concrete situations.
Getting things Done : to adopt a good time management system (you can tweak the method).
Good luck !

DailyHNonJan 8, 2020

#1 Don't plan on saving the notecards forever.

Put them in an inbox immediately after writing on the notecard.

At a predetermined time, manage the inbox.

Some of my notecards get stored into folders created for current projects. These folders can be digitized at a later date for archiving and searching. Though, most notecards don't make it that far.

Some notecards represent tasks. Those get recycled as soon as they are completed.

Many notecards head straight to the recycling bin. You'd be surprised how often something seems like a good idea before you write it down.

Most of my process follows the "Getting Things Done"(GTD) framework by David Allen. I highly recommend it.

orbliviononMar 23, 2009

I hope it's good advice, because it makes sense to me, and I will probably take it to heart.

I see that some people here don't think there's much value in this article. I've grown to believe that different personal/productivity advice like this appeal to and are effective for different people, based on their personalities. For instance I read Getting Things Done, and I just can't keep that up. David Allen must be a machine, I guess. Not me.

furbearntroutonDec 24, 2010

Actually, this IS what I read for fun. (instead of Getting Things Done)
So bring on the Tech links! I don't have to be anywhere till Sunday.

padraigfonJan 12, 2021

Yes, this is a good practice whether you're leaving for the day or not. See David Allen's book 'Getting Things Done'. A central principle of it is: the place for your todo list is on paper (or some repository), not in your head. This clears your head for focusing on the immediate task at hand. So can be helpful for getting into a flow-state during the day, as well as between days.

tifarethonSep 29, 2013

TODO lists -don't- work? Maybe they'd work with some mindfulness, context and discipline? The author acts as if David Allen's "Getting Things Done" did not exist. GTD calls for all these things and, at the most basic level, you're tasked with assigning priority to, creating context outlines for and estimating time commitment for all of your tasks during the first time block in your morning.

GTD became well-known because it works. You just have to take the book seriously enough to both finish and internalize it. Difficult, perhaps, for many in the information-age [quick-fix-age]. GTD is a lifestyle versus a system. That's the only way it works.

Software: org-mode is what I use and it's amazing. You can create massive collapsable lists with TODOs, outlines, context with code-blocks that can be set to any language, direct links to files/emails/websites/almost-anything. It's versatility and scope is so enormous that it can be adapted to suite any conceivable need. Like scheduling? Go to a TODO item and CTRL-s (C-s for you fellow emacs users) and a calendar pops up. Select a date, hit enter and it's agenda'd. The agenda can be set up to send you reminders via iCal, Growl/libnotify/Snarl, appointment-mode, Remind, Google Calendar... practically anything!

The problem with these brilliant systems is the initial time commitment where there are no pats on the back (no insta-grata) and no payout of any kind. They're both intricate systems that work like a circuit - if the circuit isn't complete, it is broken.

Excellent org-mode guide: http://doc.norang.ca/org-mode.html

CPLXonNov 15, 2018

> Anyone know of a book that goes into this in detail?

As cheesy as it sounds, the best book I've found on this topic is Getting Things Done.

I struggle with a lot of the issues in this article, and resisted that kind of thinking for years, but learning how to break up the insane overload of ideas and things in my head and bring them into manageable chunks, living in an outside system, has really really helped.

jeeringmoleonDec 22, 2010

The idea that writing an idea down reduces stress is one of the cornerstones of Dave Allen's Getting Things Done. He calls the unwritten items that nag at you "open loops". One important follow-on idea that that the ideas must be written down in a "trusted system": if you aren't absolutely confident that you will be able to find it when you go looking (or, better, that it will be brought to your attention when needed whether or not you remember to look at that moment), you won't stop worrying.


thinkzigonJan 27, 2009

Good read. This reminds me of the "start with the end in mind" philosophy that David Allen espouses in Getting Things Done. His point is that your brain is much better at starting from the end and working your way back, though that's not the way most people are taught to tackle abstract tasks.

Most people jump in and start "planning" rather than stopping to think about what their goals are and then planning accordingly. I'm guilty of this at times too, especially when it comes to site design, so it was nice to read this article as a refresher on how to do it right.

raspoonMar 27, 2021

I personally really enjoy the world of GTD (Getting Things Done). I like reading about the best techniques, latest to-do apps and I tried a lot of them over the years.

But in practice, for whatever reason, the only to-do lists that I complete are the ones I quickly write down on a random piece of paper sitting on my desk.

Even though digital notes have many more advantages and I would like to use them, they just never work for me.
I forget to periodically check them and if they send me notifications I simply ignore them.

meesterdudeonDec 28, 2014

I've come to find that everyone has a different solution, and lots of people have different priorities. A client of mine keeps everything in text files. I know another that does everything in excel. Others use some combination of apps and services (dropbox for files, omnifocus for todos, evernote for notes and articles) and that works ok for them too.

After trying several solutions, I ended up building a SaaS to manage everything. I found most things out there are fairly boring, and are not at all as powerful as what I wanted. It's basically a brain for my brain; so i can remain a scatterbrain and it can tell me when its time to water the plants, or if food in my fridge is about to expire. But it also handles all my notes, important files, time-series data, and historic dates.

But really, you have to figure out whats important to you and what system best aligns with that; and in the end you'll likely need to make a few tradeoffs to get something working.

But I think there are definitely some principles you can apply to any system you use; I can't recommend Getting Things Done by David Allen enough. His methodology is great, but even if you don't like it or can't use it for whatever reason, there are oodles of great tips; and it'll make you into a natural project manager / information guru.

twobyfouronJune 28, 2017

This is the one thing I find Asana effective for. Another option might be to repurpose issue tracking software - after all, it's basically just a to-do database. I've also known people who use plain text files on a remote machine plus vim plus SSH.

But software is just a tool. What it sounds like you really need is a system for keeping all these balls in the air. Without a system, no software is going to solve the problem of failing to remember you need to follow up on things.

This type of work is something I find Getting Things Done very effective for. You don't have to rigidly implement everything the book prescribes, but it does offer a philosophy and a toolkit of processes that you can mix and match to keep your work organized.

Once you have a process, you can implement it in OneNote or index cards, or whatever the heck else feels ergonomic to you.

anderspitmanonApr 17, 2019

I've seen a huge personal impact adopting principles from David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology, which in some ways is simply a checklist management system. As others have mentioned, it's not just preventing me from forgetting to do things. Capturing my thoughts and intentions externally reduces stress and frees my mind to have more new thoughts. My creativity has skyrocketed since I started writing down every project/product idea I have, and adding to them over time. Currently using Trello (which works great for this), but eventually I'd like to switch to something open source or make my own system tailored to my needs.

sreyaNotfilconJune 10, 2012

"11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you'll never share it with anyone."

This is the theme of my project. Especially the past 2 years. Except I do put it on paper, but actually building the thing always takes a second hand because I keep waiting for the "perfect" solution. I've finally gave up on that idea, because

1) i don't have the resources to build the perfect idea
2) it takes too long to wait for something to happen in your head

I've recently adopt a motto "hackFast". This means to know what you want to get done and just do it. And not just lazily open up your IDE and selective fix or create things. I mean, to open the IDE and just dominate the code.

There's a balance that I haven't achieved yet. There are times when you do need to think of the perfect solution, but until then get the prototype done. You're mind will wrap around the logic and it will eventually fix itself.

#11 and #17 goes hand and hand. It all go down to doing it.

..I've also been recently reading "Getting Things Done".

yepguyonMay 19, 2020

I may have overstated my point a bit, because everyone has a different base level of anxiety and tolerance for disorder, and everyone will also go through unavoidable periods of stress. I recommend (re-)reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Getting Things Done, and Deep Work if you haven't already.

I'm afraid my advice is not very original, but beyond a few common principles, getting organized is a very individual kind of thing.

_mpfonMar 29, 2015

That's great Michael. If that's any help for you:

1. i'm using task/todo list for such things.

2. In David Allen's book "Getting Things Done" there is whole chapter or more which is i think about the problem you metioned (he names this "open loops" - problems you must solve but don't want to have it constantly in your mind but manage them in some way using external memory to not clutter mind and not forget them).

Probably you heard about this book because it's popular but i think it's worth mentioning, it's the case when popularity comes with reason before not after ;)

mjwhansenonFeb 24, 2015

As someone who was diagnosed with ADD at age 10 and eventually discovered my own ways of beating it, I'll share a few ideas. But note that what works for me, or someone else, may not work for you and you'll have to slough through things to find your own fix.


  - Caffeine (tea is best since it's like an XR version of coffee)

- Testing for any vitamin/mineral deficiencies that may be causing tiredness that's displaying as an inability to focus, like low iron or b-vitamins (just examples, go see your doctor)

More longer-term solutions:

  - Read "Getting Things Done" and re-read it until you internalize it

- Use an app like OmniFocus to organize to-dos and give yourself a sense of achievement/little adrenaline rush when you complete something (especially small things, like make bed, read 25 pages of book, one homework assignment, etc)

- Change your study habits: turn off your phone and put it in the drawer, disconnect from the Internet if possible, relocate to a different location where there are fewer distractions (coffee shop, library, etc), give yourself small blocks of time to study (after all, work expands to fit the time allocated)

Longest-term solution:

  - Gain enough life experience, self-awareness, and fear of failing out of school that you eventually figure out what works for you.

Hope that helps!

kd5bjoonJune 7, 2020

> This is to keep my head straight on what topics had been touched on by that book.

Most of the time, it’s more be beneficial to file notes according to the situation in which they’ll be useful rather than where they came from: If you’re going to have a tree structure, the original sources should be out at the leaves as external references rather than the root. This manifests in many forms from lots of different people giving advice:

In Getting Things Done, Allen spends a lot of time on the importance of organizing your todo lists by where you’ll be able to do the actions.

Luhmann used his original Zettelkasten to store passages that he could pull to make drafts of papers, and cross-referenced them to other passages that could be included together.

In How to Write a Thesis, Eco recommends writing a preliminary outline of your thesis and then tagging notes with the section number they’re relevant to.

In his MasterClass series, Chris Hadfield emphasizes the benefit of collecting summary notes organized by the interface you’ll see when actually performing an activity.

PeterisPonMay 18, 2019

Cal Newport's work is essentially a reaction to the fact that all the literature on time/task management succeeds mostly at shallow work but isn't optimal for deep work.

So if shallow work is your weak spot where you'd like some improvements, then all the classics like David Allen's Getting Things Done or perhaps Covey's 7 Habits of highly effective people would be relevant.

codemaconJune 26, 2021

* Getting Things Done by David Allen

This book taught me so much about how to manage my life, and taught me how to review my own systems.

* SICP, On Lisp, and Let over Lambda

It's hard to pick one exactly, because really it's about opening your mind to radically different programming paradigms than what's popular.

Learning lisp well enough gives you confidence to attempt to create new programming languages, through code generation, or even mentally thinking about an API as a language rather than just a series of functions.

PeOeonFeb 6, 2019

Oh I loved Freakonomics!! What an excellent question. I want to propose 2 books:
1. Getting Things Done by David Allen. It really changed how I approach not only my workday but pretty much everything that could constitute "work" in my daily life. It's a bit of a learning curve to start, but once you implement GTD in your life it becomes second nature. You can learn about it here: https://gettingthingsdone.com/ and there's a good intro to it here: https://zenkit.com/en/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-getting-thin....
2. How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger. When you start thinking of plants as medicine it really changes your whole approach to food and life in general. I've started following his 'daily dozen' and I've got to say that I feel absolutely incredible. (Check out his website here: https://nutritionfacts.org/)

Amazing works of fiction that I come back to again and again include Anna Karenina and The Three Musketeers

tbergerononApr 24, 2012

Haha I didn't read Rework yet but I read Getting Things Done which is by Jason Fried & DHH as well, amazing book.

[sometimes, try to solve problems people don't even know exist yet.]

This is an amazing and interesting advice, thanks for pointing it out!

[No, not really. I've been working at night on projects for about 9 months and I'm just ...ready.]

This is where I'm heading, it's been 6 crazy months working at night, with the software engineer job I currently have on the day. But the time is coming soon, I feel more and more ready everyday, I have faith in me and my peers are pushing me to it as well, timing seems excellent I really can't wait! Focusing on my day job is becoming really, really hard hehe.

Thanks a lot, this is very helpful and I'll sure email you soon! Thanks again!

j45onJan 12, 2019

I have experienced a handful. Of book sheet together have given me some peace and focus. Hopefully some of these might be interesting.

How to organize things is as important as balancing why the things are important.

The core book to start with is Getting Things Done by David Allen. It gets momentum going and allowed me to look up and around.

These books that have helpful to connect the productivity to trusting we're doing the right things in terms of meaning and purpose.

Set the stage:

Book 1: Mindset by Carol Dweck (are you really open to possibilities and not a fixed mindset?)

Book 2: The Power of Habit (how do you build small new skills, since are only a sum of our habits, and those habits can change)

Getting prioritized:

Book 3: Focal Point by Bryan Tracy (find and set the priorities in all areas of life)

Getting and staying organized and focused:

Book 4: Getting Things Done by David Allen (the how to get it done and stay organized and keep it all out of your head, biggest productivity book of the last 20 years)

Book 5: Deep Work by Cal Newport (regain the power of focus to get twice as kuch done.. With the same effort and no distractions)

Book 6: So good they can't ignore you by Cal Newport (now that you're going, how do you really make an impact in what you're putting your time into)

Book 7: The Miracle Morning. I'm a night owl. This book convinced me that the late night is the same thing as the super early morning, except I'm rates and have way more energy.

The order may vary for others, in hindsight I'd read them in this order, but starting with Getting Things done and working through the rest as you like is realistic too.

Happy to learn about any books you'd like to share.

tmalyonFeb 26, 2018

I am currently half way through the original Getting Things Done book (GTD). I find the approach to be a possible solution this context switching if you know in advance what some of the other projects are. The idea that you have a plan for each project and the next action available, greatly reduces the stress of switching contexts.

tduberneonAug 19, 2020

This might sound silly, but the following, cited in Getting Things Done, helped me a lot:

"The middle of every successful project looks like a disaster"

Whenever I have setbacks, delays, whatever, this sentence can help me put things into perspective and keep at work rather than panicking. (Although of course, sometimes, things look like a disaster because that's what they are...)

santiagobasultoonMar 6, 2016

I'm always amazed with the capacity and skills American have to write so many words without any actual content. Just words, ramblings, perfectly synchronized sentences. I remember when I first read "Getting things done". You'd get 1 valuable lesson/advice every 30 pages. Same thing here. 1 valuable piece of content every 5 (giant) paragraphs.

CPLXonJune 26, 2021

> Getting Things Done by David Allen

Agree. Despite being ubiquitous and universally recommended, I think this book is still somehow underrated.

yuppie_scumonApr 16, 2021

Diagnosed as a child but haven’t been on meds since HS. Didn’t like how they made me feel. Now about 15 years into a career that’s going pretty well after some rough patches.

Listen to chill music without particularly complex lyrics.

Turn off notifications for EVERYTHING. You’ll be shocked how little you miss them or need them. Even slack with coworkers you can take relatively asynchronously.

Break tasks down into as small of a chunk as possible and tackle each one individually (Getting Things Done is a short good read on this)

Read a good detective book like Homicide: Life on the Streets to understand how people can successfully approach open ended, “no help” scenarios.

When you get overwhelmed about number of tasks or some such, defer to your boss to prioritize what you will work on, and use that as an excuse to focus 100% on one thing at a time.

Take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep (8+ hours), eat healthy protein meals including breakfast, and do some kind of physical activity.

chris_wotonJune 7, 2015

I have visions of David Allen writing Getting Things Done and then the next year thinking "I really should revise this". 13 years later a second edition is published.

spodekonMay 11, 2018

I'll answer your question first, then suggest something I consider more important, having survived several life-shattering crises.

- The Tao Te Ching, especially Ron Hogan's translation (freely downloadable here: http://beatrice.com/wordpress/tao-te-ching)

- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby

- Getting Things Done, David Allen

- Gimp, Marc Zupan

- Thinking in Systems, Donella Meadows

- Leadership Step by Step, Joshua Spodek (full disclosure: me, https://www.amazon.com/Leadership-Step-Become-Person-Others/...)

The suggestion I consider more valuable is to focus more on active behavior than relatively passive reading. Of course, still read. But it's easy to read more and more, telling yourself you're getting more perspective. You are, but nothing changes your perspective like actually moving.

Even if you don't know what will work best -- meditation, fitness, art, music, travel, cooking, gardening, starting a business, etc -- starting with something, even if you soon abandon it, will lead you to things you love and that develop you faster than reading alone. Plus activity will make what you read more meaningful.

I include my book because it's specifically a book of exercises that lead to developing social and emotional skills designed to build on each other.

gbuk2013onJan 31, 2015

I haven't seen this before and it's awesome - thank you for sharing! :-) It's completely accurate, from my experience.

One thing I could add though (not really related to creativity as such): when he talks about the time at the start of the creative time-space, where your mind gets flooded with the list of things that you should have done and forgotten about - I think this is actually one of the benefits of this exercise. I find it very helpful to write down all these things as a list, because trying to remember them is subconsciously a source of stress. Not to do anything about them then, but just writing them down to get them out of your head.

This is one of the real gems of understanding that I got from reading David Allen's "Getting Things Done". Having these things written down on a list frees your mind from having to try and remember them and also makes it much easier to go through the list and sort it in terms of importance or even get rid of some items altogether! For me it has definitely improved my productivity and also helped reduce the stress of forgetting to do things that are important because I got distracted doing something else.

pronoiaconFeb 19, 2018

That feels kinda familiar. My experience might or might not be helpful.

I read about Getting Things Done, and I worked to track everything in one place, but I find that task tracking in two places work best for me:

1. Something like Evernote or Simplenote, for capturing notes on any device that's handy: phone, tablet, computer, etc. Being able to search really easily is crucial, to avoid duplicate topics.

2. Something like Trello for easier prioritizing and categorization. Moving around the index card analogies is much easier than moving text.

Using email as an issue tracker is an anti-pattern. It means your work to prioritize can get casually jumbled, and for me, that flow can get interrupted more easily. Ditto for Slack.

I like paper notebooks - I used one at work so I wouldn't drop any of the tasks I was juggling - but they're less portable than my phone. Before that, I had a Hipster PDA (index cards and a paper clip - http://www.43folders.com/2004/09/03/introducing-the-hipster-... ) but I had lots of notes, and searching was awkward, meaning "just write it (again) before I forget it, sort it out later," meant there was curation involved, and that using 1. above was lower-friction and just overall better.

violetgardenonOct 27, 2019

I like Todoist. A friend recently leant me a book called “Getting Things Done,” and what I got most out of it was using my todo lists better. I have several todo lists for things like house, study, and “I’ll get to this one day, but it’s not urgent.” I use Todoist to review what I want to do, then I press a little button to mark them for today, then I just work off today’s list. It lets me make long todo lists so it’s off my mind, but then being able to move things to today easily makes me not get overwhelmed when I look at what I have to do.

vkronJan 26, 2015

Here's what works for me:


  - Intense workouts early in the day
- A lot of water
- Sunlight


  - Airplane mode
- Batching email, IM, SMS, ..
- Automate payments
- It's ok to be late with administration sometimes

Books that really helped me:

  - The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss [1]
- Getting Things Done by David Allen [2]
- Rework by Jason Fried [3]

[1] http://amzn.com/0307465357
[2] http://amzn.com/0142000280
[3] http://amzn.com/0307463745

edit: added Rework

cjfdonNov 18, 2020

Reading Getting Things Done by David Allen.

Reading and practicing Test Driven Development by Kent Beck.

sradmanonJan 16, 2021

I consider Spaced Repetition a mental model of how we learn and retain knowledge. I think your objection is with flash card systems and I don’t disagree with your assessment.

I think of Spaced Repetition more generally. A paper based Zettelkasten system can be enhanced with a paper based review scheduling system; say 43 folders as described by David Allen in Getting Things Done with a simple SuperMemo algorithm for interval spacing.

When we gain good recall of Zettelkasten structure/content I suspect that we inadvertently mimic Spaced Repetition. I can be convinced otherwise.

eitlandonMay 10, 2021

> The max I have got is around 200 tabs and even that was a considerable stress on my brain.

Here's the trick I think:

I and many others use tabs to offload the brain. For those who have read "Getting Things Done" I think this is similar.

We don't think about them, just look them up if and when we need them.

Kind of the same way as a journal or notebook: it doesn't stress me that I have hundreds of pages I might never get back to; it eases my mind that if I need to get back it is still there.

I use Tree Style Tabs and a couple of extensions on top of that so sometimes I'll copy a subtree as a nested markdown list and store it in Joplin, then close it.

But no: 600 tabs like I've had more than once was totally feasible years ago and should be no match for a moderns system.

That said as long as people don't try to force me to change the way I work they are free to do it their way.

miguelrochefortonMar 24, 2016

I'm obsessed with task management. I have read Getting Things Done many times. I've used a lot (~50) of different task management systems over the years, and haven't found one that's good enough.

Todo lists and task management software won't ever solve the problem. The problem has to do with the way the system works, how the society is modeled. The application paradigm (where we have disconnected apps that do few things well) is the root cause.

It should be obvious that the solution is to change the UX of software as a whole. Get rid of the silly WIMP paradigm, and move to a more task-oriented one. Make the OS your task management system, and let apps (now semantic agents) help you achieve them.

What we lack is breakthroughs in language. We need a better semantic model to describe and model expected outcomes.

tmalyonMar 15, 2018

I do like to keep an idea pad. But I am working through the 2001 version of the Getting Things Done book. I have started organizing things as projects and am using the ios Things 3 app to do this.

zwischenzugonMar 8, 2017

My kids are 9 and 10.

About 5 years ago I read 'Getting Things Done' and (despite my misgivings) it literally changed my life.

Since then I've:

- set up a JIRA to track ALL the things I work on

- written a book https://www.amazon.com/Docker-Practice-Ian-Miell/dp/16172927... (and am currently writing a second edition)

- started a blog https://zwischenzugs.wordpress.com/

- changed jobs

- become a speaker https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ian+miell

- started an open source project that helps me automation my spare time tech work: http://ianmiell.github.io/shutit/

And now I feel I've got MORE time than I had before I read it, and better time with kids etc..

The takeaway from this is that if you get serious about managing your time the benefits can be awesome.

Although when your kids are very young (we had two demanding ones under 2) don't be too hard on yourself - it's really hard!

pjmorrisonNov 20, 2013

I keep two text files open at all times: CurrentTasks.txt gets every new assignment and idea, sorted by priority order, most important stuff at the top.

Logbook<Year>.txt gets a date stamp every day, and collects the notes I take/leave myself as I go along, including any interesting command lines I won't remember later. I throw in any interesting error messages and other things I know I won't remember in detail.

Periodically, I'll garbage collect CurrentTasks and move the good intentions and other things I won't likely do over to the Logbook.

This is a corruption of David Allen's 'Getting Things Done' system, but it's worked well for me for years. I can't count the number of times the Logbook has acted as a ready reference for solving some obscure, occasional challenge.

Invictus0onDec 17, 2017

I believe I got one of these. It was a book I didn't order, "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. The people at the Post Office said it was mine to keep and there was nothing I could do about it.

atlas1428onSep 7, 2018

- The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

- Godel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter

- Language, Truth, and Logic by A. J. Ayer

- Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows

Books that serve as investment philosophy guides for those who've developed a habit of saving money but are looking for the "next step" in building more wealth. From the mind of one of the greatest investors of all time:

- The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (get the annotated version with an epilogue written by Warren Buffett!)

- The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America

A book that discusses what matters most in your life from a resource-allocation, measurable results standpoint (family, etc.):

- How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

A book I read 10 years ago that forever changed the way I manage productivity and organization both at work and in my personal life:

- Getting Things Done by David Allen

Books that show that our universe is just as crazy, if not crazier, than science fiction:

- Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy

- Quantum Chance: Nonlocality, Teleportation and Other Quantum Marvels

- ..and so on with intersecting topics!

Not to mention, I love trying to have as deep an understanding as I can by reading highly technical textbooks on cosmology, gravitation, and quantum physics.

patrickmayonMay 22, 2013

I recommend David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. I use it with OmniFocus, but there are a number of other tools available.

The process is straightforward (collect, process, organize, do, and review) but what I found most helpful was getting everything out of my head so I could stop worrying about forgetting anything.

GerdonJuly 25, 2010

Most likely you have given your brain the task to do so. You have given your brain the task to care about a lot of things without letting go.

The best things to start with that I know and have done:

1. Make a list of things that cost you energy. Mark the three most importan. Solve them or let them go.

2. Free your brain from your todo list. It has better things to do. Apply the book "Getting things done" to give your brain peace from the things you haven't done yet.

3. Use a countdown timer to work 50 minutes on one task. Make a 10 minutes rest and then do the same thing with a completely different task. What this does to you is NOT to urge you to get something done. What it does is giving you complete freedom not to care about anything else for 50 minutes. (I know a similar method with 25 minutes. I prefer 50. It is no accident that it is exacly half the time. Do 25 or 50 but nothing between.)

Feel free to combine this methods ad lib.

Gerd, brain hacker, hypnotist, NLP master

figurethistuoonJune 13, 2010

Figure out how much you really have after taxes, fees, other reductions, etc. Keep it in a safe bank account (i.e. the bank will not become bankrupt and your money will disappear; no matter where you keep it, make sure it doesn't vanish) Then sit down and figure out what you want to do. Others have already provided a comprehensive guide to immediate tasks. I think it will help to define a purpose for this money. Your modest living should help greatly; just make sure you don't take purely financial risk with the money (like becoming an investor disconnected absolutely with what he's investing in).

Some personal suggestions of mine include starting another company that you have passion to start and fund. It seems that you won't waste money, but it goes without saying to start as though you has no money at all. If you start anything whether it's a non-profit or company, start immediately with what you need. Ask if you can start with the least you have. Read REWORK by 37signals. (this book will provide invaluable experience) Read Getting Things Done by David Allen. Not only will it help to organize yourself, but refocus yourself on a 50,000 feet level and realize what you want to do with your life. The book can prompt internal self-actualization, but you have to be the one to figure it out. (though their workflow coaching can help setup your system for the first time, you can do it yourself too) Some of this advice, you probably know already, but this can be a refresher.

Ask yourself questions! Feel that you want to help other in your community? Do that. See an incredible opportunity on the horizon? Do that. Work with what you have a passion for.

I hope others on the internet and I have been able to provide sound ideas for what to do. Whatever the case, you already came this far. I wish you the best of luck in what you plan to pursue, and hopefully you'll be able to benefit our world and yourself. Make sure that you make the decision you know are the best for you. Personally, please use the money constructively...help someone with it if you don't know what else to do after making sure you have enough for the rest of your life.

j45onJan 12, 2019

I second Getting Things Done. This book is a little engine of productivity. It was responsible for a good chunk of any special productivity I've been perceived to have.

The book is easy to start with as your read it because it ties together skills you already have with creating an air tight system that enables your brain to trust you trust you not to forget anything - lowering your mental and cognitive load so you can focus in the present by taking a unique approach..

It literally lets you collect every random thought that has no relevance to the moment, capture it in a "someday/maybe" pile and put it away for future review. The brain, one emptied is ready to focus.

The new edition is updated for digital life too, which is great, I try to read it every year or two as well to keep sharp, the current read has been a nice refresher.

Currently using the newest 2Do app between Android/MacOS/Windows /iOS. It's really decent inter platform tool. If you're all Mac a lot of people like omnifocus too. I found other apps (things, toodle, rtm) lack the ability to break apart projects into super detail when needed but otherwise are great.

There are a few other books that help build a car around this engine (Mindset, Focal Point, So good they can't ignore you, Deep Work), but a car without an engine isn't a car.

BeetleBonNov 21, 2016

>This is a repeat of the famous Getting Things Done book, which covers prioritizing your life through organization and scheduling.

Pretty much the opposite!

David Allen is against scheduling anything other than hard deadlines. The ones which if you miss, you really miss! The examples in the article are the ones he tells you never to put in the calendar (groceries, date night, etc). Anything that you can delay means it does not belong in there.

He does have a tickler file, but that's merely for reminding you, and only at the day granularity.

pjmorrisonMay 25, 2019

I used to use FreeMind [0], a mind-mapping tool that I really like, to keep track of projects, ideas, and things to follow up on. I eventually noticed that the pretty pictures could be represented, without loss of information, by a simple outline in a text file. Reading 'Getting Things Done' [1] got me to think in terms of a 'Current Task' list, which I now keep as a text file, backed up on Dropbox. Anything I need to do, or want to follow up on, or want to dream about in a practical way, gets jotted down in the file, with the most urgent matters at the top, Some really interesting stuff drifts down in the file as time passes.

As I do stuff, things move from the Current Tasks file to a Logbook file. Beyond 'accomplished todo's, that file gets stuffed with, for example, interesting quotes I run into, command lines I think I'll need again, and a record of what I've been up to. When I need to put together a status report, or figure out for myself where my time went, or recall how to do something intricate that I haven't done in six months, I turn to my Logbook.

With these two pieces, I feel like I've got a handle on what I want to do, and a record of what I've done. Now, if I just could find the time to follow through...

[0] http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done

JohnBootyonDec 28, 2013

Pot should be recreational, not something you need.

  It is an outlet for stress and the never-ending wall 
of burden. Development and startups are evolving so
fast, and it often feels like you are never adequate.
You always need to be learning and using X new language
or technology.

I ran my own tiny business for a while and the "always on" syndrome was definitely the toughest aspect. Felt like I should always be doing something... 24/7/365.

It was very tough to disconnect my mind from work. It was exhausting and very tough on my personal relationships! I feel you there.

Thing is, pot is only ever (at best) treating your symptoms. It's not fixing any of the root causes of those symptoms, the things that are making you feel like you need to be always on.

1. Exercise, a good diet, and sleep may seem boring as hell but those are really how you strengthen your mind and body to deal with stress.

2. Also don't forget to feed your soul. Meditation, prayer, whatever works for you. I'm an atheist and there are lots of ways to meditate that don't involve believing in the supernatural.

3. Adding some structure may help with the "always on" angst. Make Wednesday afternoons or Sunday mornings (or whatever) the time when you play with new languages, so you don't feel like you have to be doing it 24/7.

4. Have a good note-taking system (moleskine, note app, whatever) so that you can record thoughts and to-dos, rather than having 50 things bouncing around in your head that feel like they need to be acted upon immediately lest you forget them. "Getting Things Done" is big on this; it's worth at least skimming that book for ideas because even if you don't adopt the whole system there is some seriously good shit in there you can poach.

alexilliamsononJune 4, 2017

"The Silk Roads: A New History of the World" By Peter Frankopan. This book tackles essentially all of human history, tying together the world's major cultural shifts with the socioeconomic forces that brought them to pass. For readers who have implicitly come to believe that the center of the world has always been Western Europe (I had), this book will greatly shift your perspective (Eastward). I've never learned so much from a book, and damn is it entertainingly written.

"Getting Things Done" by David Allen. I'm sure everyone here is familiar with bits and pieces of GTD methodology, but I encourage you to check out the full text. There are a lot of great ideas in there there that I didn't find reading online about GTD. I have been a serious GTD user for more than a year now, and I feel amazingly more in control of my life. Everything I've done in that time - from planning my wedding, to projects at work, to completely organizing my house - has gone smoother than I can remember projects going ever before.

manmalonApr 10, 2016

Having been (or sometimes, still being) in the same shoes, here's some things I can recommend avoiding the consultant blues:

- Never work without a contract or at least a clear statement of work. Ever. So much pain will ensue otherwise.

- Take up front payments whenever you can. Ideally, 50% or more. Liquidity takes a lot of weight off your shoulders. Don't let customers get in the way of liquidity. We learned this the hard way and almost went bankrupt - never again.

- Trust your gut feeling regarding your customers - if your gut says no, don't do it. Again, a lesson learned the hard way.

- Adopt GTD or a similar methodology. The vast amounts of information you are bombarded with (especially if juggling 5 projects at once) need organizing. If you haven't read Getting Things Done yet, just get a free Audible trial at Amazon and listen to the first chapters of the audiobook on your way to work.

- Try to develop actual love for your customers, or their end customers. Or else, you will feel empty inside, and the time spent in the office will feel wasted. If you cannot love them because they treat you badly - talk to them about it or leave them.

- Tell clients to the face if you think that their reasoning or assumptions are wrong. This feels harder than it should be, I think that's because of BS mantras like "customer is always right".

- Insist on your own side of things. You are your own business' only advocate, and you must take a stand for it. No one else will. Everybody tries to push their own agenda. So push yours.

- Don't be a code monkey, but be an actual consultant. Code monkey freelancers are bound tightly into their client's development process, and only churn out whatever code is required of them. They don't get to adopt the purpose the client creates for a project. Consultants help the client transform their purpose (business goal) into a vision, and ultimately into a product. Adopting the actual purpose for your work is so important for not burning out.

I'll save this list as a reminder for myself now.

calruebonJan 23, 2020

I have been using YNAB for over 2 years since my 50 year old mother somehow found out about it. It is a different way to think about budgeting and the tool only excels if you work within the "YNAB principles". I would recommend reading the companion book You Need a Budget before starting with the app. It was important for me to digest and understand the philosophy before I started using the tool. Otherwise I believe I would have been turned off by the rigidity.

I seem to respond well to defined, rigid systems. I handle all my task management via the systems outlined in Getting Things Done. I'd be curious what other books are out there for handling aspects of life with a systemic, opinionated approach (professional life, social life, dating, etc.)?

JohnStrangeonSep 20, 2016

There is way more advice in David Allen's well-known book Getting Things Done, and there are many things to help with this like the Action Day Planner notebook.

Allen's method is better than many others. Still I have to admit that personally this self-motivation stuff has never appealed much to me. I'm using the just do it - or procrastinate method.

cpetersoonFeb 18, 2012

You would probably like David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) book. I think your "Doing" list is what he would call "Next Action", the very next task you can begin because it has no blocking dependencies.

JeddonAug 19, 2017

I should mention I'm not fantastic at this stuff - it takes consistent effort to maintain, and of course we all have our unique challenges and preferences. I'd recommend searching around for some blogs that go into more detail on workflows, and reading Getting Things Done (Dave Allen). I've tried to adopt some of the key habits he describes.

Yes - I take the effort to unsubscribe from unwanted mail. These days much easier, as the unsubscribe link is usually to be found in the email itself. (In the olden days it was a bit trickier, getting yourself off lists.) Worst case I'll mark it as spam. The intent is to not have my mail archive crufted up with stuff I don't want - it reduces search efficacy later.

On mobile I usually don't do a lot of mail 'processing' -- phones frustrate me, and I defer most things to when I have a decent keyboard & screen in front of me. I do have trello and trello-add-card (widget) on my phone's home page, and the latter is a fast way to cut-n-paste new items into. There's also the option to forward email to your private trello board/inbox using the obfuscated email address they provide for each board. During your nightly task review you would then tidy up the card title & description.

How do you use a task-tracker correctly ... now that's a big question :) Biggest thing for me is that I trust that when something goes into my task tracker, I can get rid of it from email, my brain, post-it notes, etc. Sensible columns categories, thoughtful card names, learn the keyboard shortcuts (desktop web trello client in my case), colour coding, try to make cards describe actionable steps, 'next steps' should be do-able right now (cards with dependencies can't be 'in progress', f.e.).

Is there a requirement that you observe or interact with each of the transactional emails you're receiving? Is it something that could be handled by a script, log analyser, etc? Or when you say you want to archive them, do you mean the time-consuming process is identifying candidates for manual or automatic archival?

TerrettaonDec 31, 2020

Have you read David Allen’s Getting Things Done and looked at that system?

You have stuff to do today, stuff to do tomorrow, and stuff you might or might not do. Each day you roll the active lists forward.

Squint, and it’s just personal Kanban, with TODO and DOING, along with PARKING.

These core mechanics work.

Where everything goes sideways is when anyone tries to turn those core mechanics into a work breakdown structure fit into a project management iron triangle, per your middle management point.

Of course, middle management is just trying to lie to senior management that writing software isn’t invention because invention isn’t predictable — but senior management wants perfect predictability so they know they’re hitting their bonus, by pleasing C-level execs, whose packages depend on pleasing shareholders. Everyone’s building a Jenga tower of predictably hitting the numbers.

So if you don’t like JIRA, blame shareholders. :-)

spodekonMay 5, 2018

I find David Allen's work most helpful here. He points out that more valuable than time is mental freedom. You can schedule all the time in the world to solve a problem. If something else occupies your mind, progress may never come.

On the other hand, if your mind is not preoccupied, finding the solution may take very little time. His practice in his book Getting Things Done helped me practice this, not just abstractly know it.

cpetersoonJuly 26, 2016

I used to be an avid GTD follower (David Allen's "Getting Things Done"). The book was an epiphany for me, but the whole system can be overwhelming. I now just use three text files (for work-related planning) for a Kanban-like system:

  * work due today
* work due this week
* work due this month or later

Every Monday, I pull work from the monthly list to this week's list. Then every day I pull work from this week's list to today's list. This allows me to focus on today, confident that I am not missing something. I can then ignore anything that doesn't need to be done until later. This is the theory, at least. ;-)

saturdaysaintonJune 16, 2011

Willpower and the problem of the lack thereof are pretty hazily defined here. Poor personal performance is a complicated issue that "Get sleep and exercise" is a poor prescription to. Poor organization, personality conflicts, attitude issues, perfectionism, and poor self image will make even the most well-rested and healthy person underperform at work.

I highly recommend "Procrastination: Why You Do It, What To Do About It" by Jane B. Burka and Lenora M. Yuen and "Getting Things Done" by David Allen for a deeper examination of these issues and some solutions.

AJAlabsonSep 2, 2016

David Allen's Book Getting Things Done

KaizynonOct 3, 2010

You don't have to choose between high and low tech. Simply fully embrace both. Your problem of having a lot to do offline and feeling guilty about your progress in tech sounds more like you feel like you are "wasting time" or procrastinating on both fronts. Try this to start out small. Pick one task around your house that needs doing that is small and can be done in short order and go take care of it. Then pick one "real" high tech task such as looking into some new platform or language that can be done relatively easily and do it. From there, keep picking tasks or parts of tasks with the goal in mind to accomplish one thing each day. The Internet is only a problem when we use it to avoid doing other work we know we should be doing. However, it is just as easy to find offline distractions to substitute for the online ones. The most important thing is to take a long term perspective on what you are doing even as you work diligently on each sub-goal or minor task.

You might find that the book Getting Things Done has some helpful advice on effectively managing your time/efforts. Good luck!

tl;dr Embrace both high and low tech at the same time. Set yourself the goal of accomplishing at least one task of either type every day.

robindoranonJune 28, 2015

Getting Things Done - David Allen.

I read it when I had a team your size.

quartertoonJan 8, 2014

That's actually more like the theory behind guilt-free play. With the Unschedule, you mark any completely unavoidable block of time (meetings, meals, sleep etc). Whenever you happened to have done a half-hour of completely focused work, you mark it. This lets you a) spot patterns in when you work best (e.g. I seem to do my most focused work on a Tuesday morning for no apparent reason), and it gets you thinking "It's 2pm, I have a meeting at 3, I could get this small bit of work done".

I would also recommend Getting Things Done; even if you don't subscribe to the entire method, there are bits that gel quite nicely with the Now Habit; the bit about just starting which this article also touches on falls nicely into place with GTD's "next action" workflow.

zackattackonJune 8, 2011

Important edit: I recommend buying books if you can afford it. Many reasons for this. One, it's fun to receive packages in the mail. I get a rush every time I rip a package open. Two, it's good for the ego. It helps you keep perspective on how much you've been reading. Three, you can underline the books as you read them, this can be VERY helpful. Unfortunately I do not recommend loaning books to friends, you will never get them back.

Awesome! You can start by reading 1 book a week, which is an aggressive but doable goal. To some it may not sound like much but if you have not been making a habit of reading regularly, it will take you a while to get back into it. In a year you will have read 52 books. I am of the belief that compound interest is most effective when you have staggering sums of money. It is second most effective when it comes to knowledge.

Amazon will sell you books for cheap, but there are many business classics that will probably be available at the local library. I bet your local library will at least have one of these seven books:

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

{anything} by Seth Godin

Positioning by Al Ries

Getting Things Done by David Allen

21 Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

GregBuchholzonJan 26, 2017

Do people find it worth the time to read books on productivity like Getting Things Done, Eat that Frog, etc.? And learning more about things like Org mode? Or are those essentially procrastination enablers? Is see that most people are working on software personal projects. Anyone have thoughts getting "hardware" projects done?

maakuonFeb 14, 2015

You need a system external to yourself to guide your choices day to day. I recommend reading Getting Things Done by David Allen, and The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. These books might help you develop such a system.

(Specifically, Getthing Things Done is a good system for thinking strategically about what you need done, and The Now Habit keeps you working on the plan rather than getting distracted.)

miguelrochefortonJune 22, 2017

"Getting Things Done" by David Allen

vitovitoonOct 1, 2011

The blog post is content-free, so instead of wasting thirty seconds reading it, I'd suggest HN members for whom the title is interesting instead grab a copy of Arnold Bennett's _How to Live on 24 Hours a Day_. Written in 1910, it is one of the first self-help books, it is firmly in the public domain, and is a lovely "meta" companion to Getting Things Done.

miguelrochefortonMar 6, 2017

Getting Things Done by David Allen

ryanwaggoneronFeb 2, 2011

That didn't take long. I'm actually NOT very much into self-help books. I can count on both hands the number I've read, and on one hand the number I've enjoyed. But I do think that there are a few that are valuable. And I'm quite skeptical that there's a mythical class of people out there who are either so brilliant or so far gone that useful information (whatever the source) can't help them.

Actually, I guess it depends what you mean by self-help: I enjoyed "Getting Things Done" and "Crush It!"...do those count?

mattmonNov 6, 2013

The philosophy from the book "Getting Things Done" together with Evernote

CPLXonAug 19, 2019

This is actually a pretty good list. Obviously it's personal and specific to him but it gives food for thought.

With that said I've read a million posts like this and the only thing that's ever made me feel like I had genuinely changed my perspective and understood what was happening more clearly was reading the Getting Things Done book.

The key insight for me is that so much of procrastination results from a lack of clarity about what exactly should be done next, and keeping a mental load of trying to keep track of everything. Separating the three basic concepts of planning, making decisions, and actually doing the work, into discrete sessions, has been a life changer.

I still fuck off constantly and hate myself for procrastination from time to time, obviously, but using the core GTD framework and returning to it when I stray has really helped.

jeffersonheardonSep 2, 2017

Getting More - Stuart Diamond. I still think this is the best book on the art of negotiation.

Getting Things Done - David Allen. If you have adult ADHD like me, and you haven't read this, it's the first system that's really worked for productivity for me.

Man's Search for Meaning - Victor Frankl.

Living Buddha, Living Christ - Thich Nhat Hanh.

Cosmos - Carl Sagan.

The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. LeGuin.

The One who Walks Away from Omelas - U.K. LeGuin.

Wild Seed - Octavia Butler.

The Heike Monogatari - (tr. Helen Craig McCullough) “The sound of the Gion Shoja temple bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sala flowers reveals the truth that to flourish is to fall. The proud do not endure, like a passing dream on a night in spring; the mighty fall at last, to be no more than dust before the wind.” If you need a comparison. this is the Japanese historical equivalent of Game of Thrones combined with a bit of MacBeth. The rise and fall of two shogunate families, and an analysis of the tragic flaws of character that brought their fall about.

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo.

Small Gods - Terry Pratchett.

Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad.

The Guide - R. K. Narayan.

Evidence - Mary Oliver.

All of Us - The Collected Poetry of Raymond Carver.

Silence - Shusaku Endo.

The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Murakami Haruki. This and the next four are odd choices, perhaps, since it's a surrealist book, but IMO books that force your imagination to work hard do as much for creativity and fresh ideas as any of the more popular methods.

The Well-Built City (The Physiognomy / Memoranda / The Beyond) Jeffery Ford - Surrealist novellas best described as about the protagonist living and achieving agency within the constructs, dreams, and nightmares of a "Great Man's" mind.

Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson.

Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon.

Dhalgren - Samuel L. "Chip" Delany.

westurneronAug 15, 2017

AngelList ( https://angel.co for VC jobs and funding )
asks "What's the most useful business-related book you've ever read?" ...
Getting Things Done (David Allen),
43Folders = 12 months + 31 days (Merlin Mann),
The Art of the Start (Guy Kawasaki),
The Personal MBA (Josh Kaufman)

Lever ( https://www.lever.co ) makes recruiting and hiring (some parts of HR) really easy.

LinkedIn ( https://www.linkedin.com ) also has a large selection of qualified talent:

... How much can you tell about a candidate from what they decide to write on themselves on the internet?

paulmatthijsonMay 11, 2018

Give and Take by Adam Grant - even after a few years, it still causes me to constantly reflect on my own actions’ motive and if they’re “otherish” or not.

Getting Things Done - not the method but the insight that you can’t manage time, only your actions. And that it’s OK not do to anything without having to make excuses to yourself.

The 2nd and 3rd Ender novels - Ramen and Varelse are concepts that apply to vega/veganism from a completely different angle. It’s not an intended metaphor I think, but it applies to my life on a personal leve; (I’m not vegan, my wife is).

gjsteinonDec 28, 2019

I know "Getting Things Done" by David Allen is a book the HN crowd occasionally loves to hate, but I came across it at the right time in my life and was the impetus I needed to reorganize my life and put systems in place to ensure that I ... well ... started to really get things done. Since then, I've built up my Emacs ecosystem to support a GTD-derived workflow and I've never looked back.

Also on my list are the already-mentioned "Getting To Yes" and "Nonviolent Communication". I also really enjoyed "Good for You, Great for Me" by Lawrence Susskind, which is a slightly more real-world take on the ideals put forth in "Getting to Yes".

I also studied Physics in College and my course on Classical Mechanics was really the impetus to continue down that path for a while. Textbook was "Classical Dynamics of Particles and Systems" by Thornton and Marion.

fernandokokochaonNov 29, 2018

I've read a few books on the topic recently, here's what works for me (some followed by resources):

- going sleep early-ish (before 11 PM)

- at least 7 hours of sleep

- swimming before work

- cutting down on meat

- less worry (stoicism) - "Happy", Derren Brown

- writing down a master to-do list of literally everything (it litters your head, really) - "Getting Things Done", David Allen

- saying "no" to things you're not certain about

- staying out of internet (internet-less Pomodoros) - "Deep Work", Cal Newport

- listening to noise instead of music while working - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXtimhT-ff4

But honestly, first 3 bullets are the most important ones; if done, I'm super concentrated the whole day (strangely enough, these 3 are basic stuff, you probably already know that from your mama).

mationAug 17, 2015

"Getting Things Done" (David Allen)

9oliYQjPonDec 18, 2009

I never thought about it that way. I was able to make huge strides in learning. All the time to myself coupled with a desire to prove that "a degree doesn't matter for me" was a great recipe for my self-education. I look back and was not a happy person, but boy was I ever productive when it came to learning stuff. That period of my life is when I discovered Paul Graham's essays, became a much better programmer, stumbled upon the Getting Things Done methodology (way before it went mainstream), and seemed to have made all the right choices when it comes to choosing technologies to study.

My big regret is that there probably was a way for me to accomplish the same thing without being a hermit. I spent a considerable amount of time procrastinating on IRC and forums when I could have been exercising (which would have yielded more energy) and having a better social life. I happen to have a great set of friends, they didn't let me be a complete hermit but I would do social things maybe 2 times a month, 3 if I was lucky.

larrywrightonFeb 5, 2019

"Getting Things Done" by David Allen didn't change the way I think about everything, but it definitely changed the way that I looked at a lot of things. It's often panned today as being "common sense", but I think that's a mischaracterization - at the time it became popular, it ran counter to the conventional wisdom of how to manage your time and attention. Reading it made a profound and lasting impact on how I approached my work.

From a technology standpoint, "The Pragmatic Programmer" changed the way I looked at programming. When I read it the first time, I was a Visual Basic programmer, with only a passing familiarity with the world outside the Microsoft ecosystem. After reading that I began to explore Perl, then Python, and installed Linux and learned it. For my career as a developer, then team lead, and then manager, that book changed me more than any other book I've read in the field.

RiderOfGiraffesonJan 5, 2009

I was deeply, deeply skeptical, but then I read a lot
of blogs and comments from people with whom I clearly
identified who said it was fantastic and absolutely
worked for them.

"Getting Things Done" - the personalised version.

I read the summaries, then some snippets, then a "Zen"
version, and thought - actually, this could work for me.
I started some of the techniques and kept track of time
spent, and lo - time was saved.

I bought the book. Despite the very high "Ginger Factor"
in places it communicates well, albeit slowly.

Now I have a GTD system running, and am putting my life
into it. It gives me my goals, it lets me review and
prioritise my projects and activities, it has delivered
my life from worrying about whether I've done things, or
whether I've forgotten something.

It helps me set goals, and it helps me see how to achieve

More importantly, it helps me keep things in perspective
and do what really matters.

YMMV, but it works for me.

extantprojectonAug 15, 2010

Yes, we're going to change "GTD" to "Getting Things Done" based on several mentions of that very confusion. It'll be a link to the book, too.

Things I keep in Atombox: wine and beers I like, places I'd like to go, the size of my dress shirts, restaurants I want to try in cities different than my own, affirmations and reminders (quotes), the continual grocery list, ideas for gifts for other people, replacement part numbers, ...

KaizynonOct 9, 2007

This has come up a couple times before. However, specifically for entrepreneurs, the books to read are:

  1) How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
2) Musashi's The Book of Five Rings
3) Gonzo Marketing by Christopher Locke
4) Getting Things Done by David Allen
5) What Management Is by Joan Magretta

There are other books, but less relevant in a business context.

jlaroccoonJan 14, 2019

> What do you do to keep yourself motivated? Especially when you hit something you hate to work on but is necessary.

A while back I read "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity" [1], and though I'm not completely sold on his methodology, the author has a few ideas and techniques I really liked, that have helped me get motivated.

One of them is to figure out the next concrete, actionable task that needs to be done to make progress, and do that. Don't think about a million edge cases, or a big rewrite, but instead focus on the single edge case that's blocking you right now, or the first thing you need to do to start a rewrite, and then go do that smaller, specific thing.

It will feel good to have it done, and it'll motivate you to get to work on the next small step.


LeonBonOct 27, 2020

This is good advice. But it conflates two different (but related) ideas from Dave Allen: "Next Action" and "2 minute rule".

Both are fantastic ideas. I recommend going to the source to learn about these, the book "Getting Things Done" and the many writings specific to that system. It is very influential, so much so, that many of the things influenced by it no longer realisz their ideas have come from Dave Allen. It just seems like a universal idea that everyone knows with no particular source, like the Cerulean of the sweater in "The Devil Wears Prada", it came from somewhere.

azharcsonNov 3, 2010

Programming in C by Stephen G Kochan & Getting Things Done by David Allen

kilo_manonJuly 30, 2014

Just listing books that have had a big impact on me:

* The Now Habit - http://www.amazon.com/dp/1585425524

* Getting Things Done - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0142000280

* Simply Christian - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0061920622

* Surprised by Hope - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0061551821

* The Great Divorce - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0060652950

* Mere Christianity - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0060652926

* The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius - http://www.amazon.com/dp/048629823X

* Tao Te Ching - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0060812451

Books from the Bible that I like:

* Genesis

* Judges

* Ruth

* Tobit

* Job

* Psalms

* Ecclesiastes

* Sirach/Ecclesiasticus

* Everything written by John

sbankonMay 20, 2012

The standard stuff: get enough sleep, exercise, have a hobby, etc.

Also, perhaps you are stressed and are unable to switch off because you approach work in a way that makes it impossible for your brain to switch off when you go home. Do you use your brain to remember stuff that you have to do? Do you use your brain to organize your workday? When there is a lot going on, do you use your brain to juggle everything so you are able to stay on top off it? If you go home, is it necessary for you to remember something, anything, until the next day?

If so, and from some of what you write it can seem so: STOP IT! STOP IT NOW! Write everything down. Everything. Projects, tasks, lists, what you have to to, what worries you, problems to solve, etc. Keep it somewhere you trust where you know that you will look often, be that specialized software or a simple notepad. This will allow you to completely "forget" work when you go home. It takes practice to get good at it, but from personal experience the difference is phenomenal. Drop the occasional lists and Post-Its and make a detailed and good system.

My main source of stress at work is when there is a lot to do and I use my working memory to stay on top of it. I hate that. I hate using precious brain power to remember stuff, and it makes me ineffective and tired quickly. Maybe Getting Things Done by David Allen will help. If helped me a lot, at least. My efforts with staying to a system can go up and down, but when I do it well work is nonexistent to me until the next workday begins, even when I have a lot on my plate.

pjmorrisonFeb 4, 2016

I've got a 'Current Task' text file, in which I write down everything I need or want to do that I'd expect I'd forget otherwise, prioritized by how soon and/or how urgently the thing needs to be done (Thank you, David Allen [0]). For example, the top of the file right now is my agenda for a meeting that's about to happen. Once the meeting's done, the agenda will go in a logbook file, and any action items will take the agenda's place.

I have colossal idea debt, as measured by the size of the CurrentTask file. Scrolling past the most urgent items, I've got everything in there from ~ 'change that code' to 'Read 'To Kill a Mockingbird'' to a list of writing prompts that have moldered there for years.

The nice thing, though, is that the file forms an external inventory of my plans, intents, and ideas. Putting them in there lets me focus on what needs to be done now, while removing the fear of forgetting later. I'll periodically purge, moving the things that no longer matter into the logbook.

[0]'Getting Things Done', David Allen

BeetleBonSep 2, 2017

>If you're reading books for the details, you're doing it wrong.

Blanket statements like that will get you in trouble.

While I can appreciate the point of the article, it has a rather narrow view on the types of books being read.

Sure - some books are more about expanding your mental models. But in other books, the value is in the details.

I'm really good at reading lots of books. I'd read one and then jump to the next one. A little over a year ago, I forced myself to put the brakes on. Any book where I felt the ideas are important, I decided to take notes. I write them on paper as I read, and later transcribe them to a blog so I can access them anywhere.

It really reduced my rate of reading. But I'm very happy with the results. Forcing me to go over it multiple times, and then occasionally revisiting my notes, has made a huge difference.

Yes, reading once will change your mental models. And reading again will change them even more (even if just a few months later). I think it is quite rare that you will retain all the big ideas (let alone the details) in one reading. As an example: How often have you come across someone who once read a book and is trying to change aspects of his life based on principles of the book - and you've had to point out how a number of their changes are in conflict with the book's contents? (Getting Things Done is a common one people get wrong).

joshuaheardonMay 13, 2013

This is very similar to the system in the book, "Getting Things Done", which is what I use for Outlook. The salient point is to use your inbox only as a temp bin for processing email. I create folders for all my projects and file emails there. I also have 3 folders: "Action", "Waiting", and "Bills". Action items are To-do items. Waiting is where I am waiting for a response, such as a delivery confirmation email. Bills are email bills to be paid. After acting on the email, it gets moved to the relevant project folder for archiving.

AareyBabaonMay 14, 2019

<I mean the whole idea of "mindfulness" and "meditation" are the sort of pseudoscientific bullshit>

A good book to go down a scientific path is "Why Zebras don't get ulcers" by Dr Robert Sapolsky. Dr Sapolsky is professor of biology, and professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford.

His book helped me understand the physical effects on my health caused by my stressful company work environment. In short - our primate bodies have a fight or flight response to stress resulting in spikes in blood cortisol, muscle tension, gastrointestinal changes etc.

Once you understand how mind affects the body then it becomes possible to see how breathing and relaxation (mindfulness/meditation) can undo the effects of stress that we battle in our daily lives.

Of course there are other ways towards well-being. I found the tips in 'Getting Things Done' very useful in reducing anxiety. Switching to 'Eat food, mostly plants' advice is helping in mood and energy levels.

jsbonDec 4, 2007

1984 (George Orwell)

The Four Hour Work Week (Tim Ferriss)

Getting Things Done (David Allen)

Deception Point (Dan Brown)

nordgrenonApr 26, 2009

Three books have really helped me:

1) Getting Things Done by David Allen gives you a system that works for keeping track of things and choosing what to work on when.

2) The Now Habit by Neil Fiore teaches you how to get rid of some stupid things we do and think that keeps us procrastinating.

3) Tribes by Seth Godin inspires you to go out and do great deeds, big and small.

davewasthereonFeb 20, 2018

Dave Allen's Getting Things Done worked well for me. Although I don't see it as a time management strategy, more of a task management system.

I don't really use the location-context lists. What I found handy was the task workflow and getting to inbox-zero (no un-handled emails in the inbox).

When I first implemented it at work, I spent three days going through some 2k+ emails. I found about 6 or 7 emails in that lot that probably needed some action, or was sparking some idea that actually was quite valuable.

But the bulk of emails you can either delete (you'll never need it again) or store for retrieval. And the few that require an action, either do it immediately (if it's less than two minutes) or defer/delegate.

Another life-hack is to be ruthless and unsubscribe from as much as possible... almost none of it is necessary.

swcharlonNov 3, 2010

I'm also reading Getting Things Done.

sidsavaraonDec 6, 2008

I own "How to get rich" from Felix Dennis (suggested by someone else). I was a little disappointed in it.

Instead, if you DO want to buy them a book, I recommend Tim Ferris - The Four Hour Work Week or Getting Things Done by David Allen.

Both those books are enjoyable for their content and suggestions, and also for a relatively scientific approach to showing why their methodologies work - which I think is why they both resonated so much with me.

I agree with the wishlist comment as well. For me personally, I have told my friends to stop giving me gifts and do likewise. I imagine I am losing some manner of social lubrication due to this decision, and compensate by sending personal emails and spending more time keeping in touch via facebook etc.

I also like to send postcards when I travel, for similar purposes.

I'm not saying that gift giving is selfish - but I am saying if you opt NOT to give gifts, as I do, then you need to be aware of the social ramifications and adjust accordingly. I do not have a perfect solution to this problem yet however.

Anand_SonApr 1, 2016

This is what I have found to be useful in such situations

1> Take frequent breaks during the day. (5-10 Min for every 45 min of work).

2> Getting more organized (read Getting Things Done by David Allen) will help you get more work done in less time and also free up some time to spend on yourself.

3> Find meaning in the work you do.

4> Meditate for at least 10 min every day and try to bring mindfulness into your daily life.

5> Spend at least 1 hour each week to reflect/review and clarify your goals in life and see whether you are going in the right direction?

6> Make a plan to spend at least 1 hour each day in activities that help you grow.(eg. Exercise, Reading, writing a blog, learning new things, new hobbies, etc)

7> Practice gratitude before going to sleep. It will have a positive effect on your sleep and general well-being. It will also improve your productivity during day.

kstrauseronMar 17, 2021

That first paragraph is exactly my experience, too. When I read "Getting Things Done", the lightning bolt that struck me was learning that simply getting stuff out of my head and into a trusted system is enough to let me stop obsessing about it and concentrate on other things.

Last week I had one of those dreaming-about-writing-code sort of nights, where I half woke up and was thinking about the stuff I'd been dreaming about and couldn't go back to sleep. I tossed and turned until I grabbed my phone, opened my notes app, jotted down some of the idea, then closed it. That alone let my mind say "ok, now I won't forget it" and I was finally able to go back to sleep.

Some people go full-on Zettelkasten, which is awesome and I'm happy for them. Turns out I really don't need all the organization. I just need somewhere to offload my thoughts where I know I can find them later, and just the process of writing them down usually gets me 99% of the benefit of having such a system.

hrktbonAug 13, 2020

Why such a dichotomy between intrinsic and extrinsic when any situation is a mix of both ?

We do our job to get money, but we won't do any job for that sole purpose.

Kids learn chemistry because they are forced to, but they'll find fun bits here and there, they'll ask teachers questions to better understand what they're taught. They won't give a crap about half of the curriculum, but the half they'll remember and will be formative is not guaranteed to be solely from the self-motivated part either.

Going further what motivates us to explore also depends on the environment, what is rewarded and what is not, etc.

I feel splitting things in two theoretical extremes is close to labelling actions good or bad, it's useful if we don't care about nuance, but has little use once we dive below the surface.

> I recommend reading Drive first if you think you disagree.

I remember getting that recommendation for "Getting Things Done" ... is Drive much better as a reading experience ? Is it readable for people who're not into self help books in general ?

DanAndrewsonDec 25, 2012

I was heavily influenced by books and podcasts. Where I was living and working there it was next to impossible to find like-minds, so I went to books. They were like a lifeline to a better life. I actually think it was a handful of podcasts in 2006 (Internet Business Mastery, Venture Voice, and others...) that convinced me it was even possible to be an entrepreneur. No small thing for a kid from central PA.

Many times I've put down a book and immediately started implementing stuff in my business that made a big difference. Books that stick out in this regard are Purple Cow, The Ultimate Sales Machine, Getting Things Done, Work the System, Four Hour Work Week, many of Dan Kennedy's books, Getting Real, and so on.

domodomoonJuly 13, 2009

+1 here too. Living abroad and especially learning another language changed me, and a positive way. Not exactly practical for everyone, but if more people did this the world would be a more understanding place.

Did it make me procrastinate less? I'll tell you the day after tomorrow =\ (not really).

What did get me out of the procrastination habit though, was the Getting Things Done book, I'm not ashamed to say. I'm not an adherent of everything in that book, but I followed the basic system it outlines until it became second nature.

The system allowed me to clear my plate enough for me to realize that the cause of my procrastination was a sort of paralyzing fear of all the 'stuff' I needed and wanted to do. The amorphous blob of stuff was completely overwhelming. It can be a very scary thing. And that fear gets converted into inaction. But when you have a reliable framework like GTD to break the stuff down into concrete action steps, that fear is evaporates, and you can actually DO.

I'm an armchair psychologist over here, but this was the case for me. YMMV.

Also, to echo the point of the post above, my girlfriend at the time (now wife) also was totally not supportive of the GTD thing...but later became very impressed with the transformation. Just because people aren't supportive of you changing, doesn't mean they don't love you, and that they won't come around. I catch myself behaving this way towards other people all the time.

harichinnanonOct 16, 2011

The real difficulty is in recognizing that you are stuck. You might be working on 10 different things. You may be making or ogress on 9/10 things. However the one thing that gets stuck may be holding you back on milestones. I've noticed in the past that I would put more effort to get the other 9 things going faster than put an effort to recognize that I'm stuck on a task and that's really important to achieve the milestone. I would be avoiding the task without even being aware of it. A personal project plan helps me notice the lack of progess on a task. I've been reading "Getting things done" by David Allen. Listing out things you need to get done and inventorying them periodically helps me to a certain extent.

tmalyonApr 30, 2018

Here are my 3 recent favorites:

Never Split the Difference, its about how to negotiate in life

The Pyramid Principle for learning how to structure your ideas and write logically.

Getting Things Done, the 2001 version on how to apply a simple workflow to managing all the tasks you have both personal and professional.

randyonJune 4, 2008

Adventure time!

> Do you actually want to work in a large dev team?

  -- Yes

>> Why ?

--- Want to gain knowledge about 'working in a large dev team'

>>> Why?

---- Because... it might be useful?

>>>> You're stupid.

---- Don't know.

>>>> You're stupid.

---- Some actually valid reason.

>>>> Wonderful! Please state it next time.

--- Want to learn about [insert hard thing here].

>>> What's stopping you?

---- Nothing.

>>>> Damn strait!

---- Not motivated enough to learn it by myself.

>>>> Join a start-up dealing with [insert hard thing here].

----- But... but... it's against my entrepreneurial spirit. (Which, by the way, please don't lump together with the hacker spirit, you insensitive clod!)

>>>>> Wipe off your wah-wah tears?

--- Want to be around people.

>>> Hint: The open source community doesn't hit up bars after work.

--- Need large team experience to tackle cool problem X.

>>> Are other people tackling cool problem X?

---- Yes.

>>>> Join them.

---- No.

>>>> You don't need large team experience. Take your passion and just get to work.

--- Don't know.

>>> Read 'Getting things Done'. Also: You're stupid.

-- No

>> Then why did you post this?

--- Because you're silly.

VB6_ForeverronMay 16, 2011

Correct me if I am wrong but I believe that Merlin Mann got the name for his site '43 folders' from David Allen's 'Getting things done' book.
I have been trying to implement GTD techniques for some time.
The 43 folder idea appealed to me hugely at first, on a first reading of that book it was the single most seductive technique. I am still using GTD but I've dumped the 43 folders. At the same time I have come to see the value of strategies in the book that at first reading didn't seem all the helpful.
The reason I dumped the 43 folders is that I don't think it's suitable for personal organisation.
The problem was that with a folder (for every day in the current month = 31) and one for every month (12), the daily folders were mostly empty. This meant that there wasn't an incentive to check them every day and then you end up forgetting to do it and then you miss stuff. The technique might work well for a business though.
Now I just store references to 'incubating' items in my phone calendar (which is synced with my google calendar).
Sorry for going off on a tangent.

rajuonNov 15, 2009

I haven't moved completely to this new system that I am implementing, but I have a few moving pieces together, so take it with a grain of salt.

I started with David Allen's Getting Things Done (Another commentator also made a reference to this).

GTD involves the use of multiple lists - these could be "projects" you are working on, those that you don't have time for right now, action items from those projects (kinda like to-dos but with a definite objective in mind), lists for agendas (like a list of items you would like to talk about at your 5 min. standup) etc, lists of just about anything - movies to watch, artists to follow, books to read etc.

Naturally, like others, I started having too many lists, and was constantly moving items from one to another. So, not I am trying to manage all my activities using Org-Mode, GMail and Google Calendar (I do have some paper based files for certain things, mostly sketches or notes from stuff I am currently reading).

Org-mode is fantastic for organizing yourself. You can use it as a todo manager, a work-log, and if you are vested heavily into emacs, it can even link up with your calendar and email. There are several blog posts out there for Org-mode and GTD and its certainly a good start IMO.

One more thing - MobileOrg just got released for the iPhone (its an application that lets you view, edit and manage your Org files), so I have access to my lists no matter where I am.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

cenhyperiononJan 3, 2014

1. Read Getting Things Done. It will change the way you look at approaching tasks.

2. Clear, approachable goals. "Ship the website" isn't something you can just do, "write unit tests for deletion of users" is. One of my favorite features of Trello is a checklist on a card, it allows you to break down actions into very defined actionable items.

3. Have a list of things you're going to take an action on today.

b_bonJan 12, 2019

I would recommend for you to read and implement the organization/productivity system from Getting Things Done by David Allen [0]. It discusses essentially your main problems of dividing up your life into projects and timing yourself. The system also includes sections for putting some of your ideas in an 'Incubate', basically putting it off for another day once you get through what you have. Having a running list of all your commitments and projects like the system does I think will help you to analyze your time usage and realistic expectations for your productivity and stuff you want to engage in.

[0] = https://www.amazon.com/Getting-Things-Done-Stress-Free-Produ...

rtpgonJan 25, 2014

It's the last point in the article, but I think it deserves special mention: writing your ideas down is a great first step in coping with them.

In a way writing ideas down serves the same purpose as rubber duck debugging, in that you can figure out if you have a "real" idea or if it's just some sort of dream-like emotions that make you think it's one.

Techniques described in Allen's book (Getting Things Done) and stuff like the Pomodoro technique works wonders for me on this sort of issue.

kamaalonMay 5, 2011

Too much knowledge doesn't imply too much work, You are right. In fact what matters like always is the execution. If you have a process to remain productive, what matters is to execute that process well and with discipline.

That process might not be very great or best in class, but well executed bad ideas always lead to better result than badly executed good areas. Here is my hack for remaining productive. Which I have tinkered after reading David Allen's 'Getting things done'.

I have a table which has the following common fields. Task, Deadline, Started, Finished, Log, Priority and Next Step. A little modified from David's actual GTD. This table helps me do many things, first plan my tasks, next set a deadline to achieve it. Started and finished fields help me measure how much time I have taken to get it done. Log gives me an idea of complexity. Priority decides what needs to come next after what. Next step keeps me on tip of heels always generating new work for me.

I review this every night before going to sleep. And at least once a day if I'm hitting the daily deadlines. Now comes the most important of all, its called 'DISCIPLINE'. If one is not disciplined none of this ceremony works. Infact I would say better get disciplined before you get into all these techniques. Discipline is a personality trait, It has to be developed with patience, perseverance and practice. You don't get disciplined by tinkering /etc/hosts you get disciplined by making it happen even without tinkering /etc/hosts.

Another important part is review. You must review your progress every now and then. My review happens every Sunday afternoon, the review happens by measuring what I have done. What will I do and is all that really sufficient to meet my daily, weekly, monthly, six monthly, yearly and then life goals.

I make it a point to apply this not just to work, but even to my hobbies. My music practice and other stuff. Most of the users here have suggested very fine ways of measuring productivity I guess I will employ some of those techniques during my review process.

CydeWeysonApr 26, 2016

I've been using Inbox for Gmail ( https://inbox.google.com ) since launch and it handles most of the things the author talks about. Emails are treated as tasks, and it's a single mouse click or keyboard shortcut to do any of the following: create a reminder based on a given email, pin it for easier later retrieval, or archive it. That's basically how I manage my mail, along with a simple trick from "Getting Things Done" (which I haven't read), which is that if a task is only going to take a short time, do it immediately rather than putting it off.

criddellonFeb 13, 2019

I don't think fiction can be shrunk down, but I think lots of non-fiction books can.

I'm thinking specifically of some books that I've read in the past couple of years that include:

  * Deep Work
* Influence
* Thinking Fast and Slow
* Predictably Irrational
* Getting Things Done
* How to Win Friends and Influence People

I think all of these books suffer from the common pattern of present an idea then a bunch of examples that demonstrate the idea. I don't think you lose anything by ditching the examples. The core ideas are usually well stated and don't need clarification or demonstration.

jbc1onDec 17, 2019

Regularly organise them. Dump everything in to an inbox as it comes to you throughout the day and then have a set time to edit, curate, and label it properly.

For to-do's which can vary in time sensitivity this might be straight away for some that need to be done that day, that day for some that need to be later that week, or weekly for those you hope to get done just eventually.

For your links, ideas, and thoughts you could probably do it weekly.

The trick is to not let it build up so much that when you get around to looking through it, you're looking at three full days worth of organising work, much of which you can't do anyway because you've long forgotten the context within which your short hand notes made sense.

Specifically for to-do's, Getting Things Done is a very (the most?) popular organisational system with a book by the same name.

Here is a much shorter summary of it:


dyonJune 13, 2012

The idea for this was inspired by Getting Things Done (by David Allen). The key idea is that to achieve productivity, you need a clear mind. A clear mind is knowing that everything in your life is either shelved away for Archival purposes, has a clear present next action or is awaiting followup from someone else.

The 15,000 unread emails would drive me crazy. Perhaps declaring email bankruptcy is a way to get out of it?

visitor4rmindiaonApr 8, 2010

I've been using David Allen's "Getting Things Done" methodology for about three years now and I find it works really well.

When dealing with mail the principle I follow is to use the inbox purely as an inbox and not a substitute "to-do" list.

What that means is I process each message, one at a time, starting from the oldest. I don't skip ahead to "interesting" mails. If the mail can be handled in under two minutes, I just do it. If not, I create a related task (in EMacs org-mode (which is utterly fantastic but any old text file with categories can be used)) and handle that outside the mailing system.

The mail itself gets filed into a specific category archive folder for reference. My inbox is almost always empty which is a GREAT feeling for some reason.

EDIT: Thanks for the link to sup btw. I use mutt but the 'search' feature seems tempting.

elliusonJan 25, 2018

I am notoriously absentminded. I would constantly forget my lunch, leave the lights on, whatever. Since writing down checklists for my morning and evening routines, I don’t miss anything. The fact is that we’re human beings. As the book “Getting Things Done” says, your mind is for having ideas, not for holding them.

dredmorbiusonAug 17, 2021

Oh, just a few.

Time Management for System Administrators, by Thomas A. Limoncelli (2005) https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/time-management-for/059...

Getting Things Done by David Allen https://gettingthingsdone.com/ https://www.worldcat.org/title/getting-things-done/oclc/9347...

Cal Newport, generally: https://www.calnewport.com/

About 9,700 results in Worldcat, by title: https://www.worldcat.org/search?qt=worldcat_org_all&q=ti%3A%...

dasil003onMar 7, 2011

If this works for you, then more power to you. I ran my life with nothing more than an occasional daily todo list for years. The thing is though, once you get busier, once your startup is growing into the double-digit employees, once you start receiving 100+ significant emails a day, once you have a family, the stuff that has to get done starts to outstrip your mental capacity (at least it did for me). And then that's when the stress starts building.

I am not a fan of productivity porn. Ironically I think it's often just a way that people procrastinate from what really matters. But eventually I had to give in to the fact that however I used to cope wasn't working anymore. I recently picked up David Allen's Getting Things Done, and I'm applying it using OmniFocus. The thing I like about it is that it acknowledges the mental baggage that information workers carry around, and it provides a practical system to free your mind from remembering tons of tasks (something which we are not evolutionarily set up for). It's hard to overstate what this has done for my stress level and creativity. It's not about maintaining lists, it's about freeing up my RAM.

petercooperonApr 29, 2011

When I read Getting Things Done several years ago, this was one of the main things I took from it. I can't remember all the "systems" and organizational structures it suggests, but I took the (and I'm paraphrasing it) "do it, schedule it, or delegate it" core to heart. I extend that 2 minutes to about 10 minutes but it has worked surprisingly well for beating procrastination.

zzzmarcusonJune 18, 2009

I've read quite a few of the books on the list, the ones that have stayed with me and actually changed my life are, in order of impact:

1. The Art of Learning - I'll never think about practice the same way.

2. Getting Things Done - Enough has been said about this elsewhere, but the whole concept of "what's the next action" has really worked for me.

3. E-Myth Revisited - This was my MBA in one book. It came at the right time for me and really changed the way I think about creating businesses as assets. I wasn't a fan the cheesy example of the pie shop, but the advice has been invaluable.

Others that I found interesting, and that changed the way I think were:

4-hour Work Week. Yes, there is a ton of hype around this book, but I'd be surprised if anyone read it with an open mind and didn't learn anything or come away motivated to experiment with their lifestyle.

Outliers. This one probably stands out to me since I read it so recently. Gladwell gets a lot of hype as well, but I think he deserves at least some of it.

The Culture Code drastically changed the way I think about marketing.

And, a few random notes on the others I've read:

I found Predictably Irrational, Brain Rules and The 48 Laws of Power to be mostly garbage.

The Wisdom of Crowds, Wikinomics and Made to Stick are decent essays in book form.

Stumbling on Happiness is not nearly as good as Haidt's The Happiness Hypothesis which would be in the first list I made above if it were on Siver's list.

Seth Godin's books are good for motivation and for changing the way you think about marketing, especially if you've been doing it for a long time (I haven't). They're quick and fun, I think they're worth reading.

Fooled By Randomness is worth reading if nothing else because Taleb is such an entertaining writer.

kamaalonMay 11, 2011

Most of the productivity tips seem to be another way of describing David Allen's 'Getting things done'. Some times the described method is either close, a little different or some times badly.

The whole idea revolves around a few things. First being goal, goal itself can be divided to lifetime, half life, 10 year, yearly, monthly all the way granular to daily goals. In order to achieve the goal you need planning, hence you make To-do lists or others forms of tracking mechanisms with deadlines. Once this is done, the working on the list seems to be a matter of two things discipline and tracking. Tracking implies some sort of measurement. And then finally reviewing and course correction.Doing this in the intervals of your goal periods. And there is always that 'next step' that David Allen describes in his book.

That is all there is to productivity, the crux is to get organized. If you do this simple stuff you can solve and manage most of the stuff that is out there to manage.

josscrowcroftonFeb 4, 2017

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I'm on at least my third reading and imagine I'll read it again.

Also re-listened to Getting Things Done by David Allen. This could also be any number of times.

Sort-of related, currently re-watching Westworld. I burned through ten episodes in two sittings first time around and wanted to properly appreciate it this time at a more leisurely pace.

pkaleronApr 16, 2014

This is shockingly bad advice.

Jeff Atwood doesn't like TODO lists[1]. Jeff Atwood estimates that all projects will take 6 to 8 weeks[2]. Coincidence?

Be a pro. Learn the blocking and tackling of your craft. Read Getting Things Done[3].

Use a tool like Evernote for ubiquitous capture. Take notes at your stand-up meeting. Take notes at all meetings. Be the keener in the front row at conferences taking notes.

Put your TODOs in a tool like Things or OmniFocus.

Do a weekly review. Do a monthly review. Do a quarterly review. Do an annual review.

Set goals and KPIs for yourself every week, month, quarter, and year.

Get peers and mentors to give you continuous feedback. Ask them to rate you from 1 to 10 on different skill-sets and facets

Put everything time-based in your calendar. Going to the gym? Put that in the calendar. Going on a date? Put that in the calendar.

Get a paper file for stuff you can't digitize. Get a scanner. Scan stuff into Evernote or use your phone/tablet camera.

Use a pomodoro timer and count the number of sprints you can finish in a day. Use a tool like Harvest if you bill hourly. [4][5]

Trying to find a job? Trying to close consulting clients? Create a pipeline in Trello.

Use RescueTime and Timings.App to measure where your time goes. [6]

Be a pro. Don't listen to this shockingly bad advice.

  [1]: http://blog.codinghorror.com/todont/
[2]: http://blog.codinghorror.com/on-our-project-were-always-90-done/
[3]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done
[4]: http://bookofhook.blogspot.ca/2013/03/smart-guy-productivity-pitfalls.html
[5]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique
[6]: http://timingapp.com

elliusonSep 3, 2017

• The Prize

• The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

• The Lean Startup

• Poke the Box

• The Elements of Computing Systems

• The Death of Common Sense

• Up the Organization

• The Personal MBA

• The Wisdom of No-Escape

• The Adapted Mind

• Brain Rules

Getting Things Done

• On Writing

• Steal Like An Artist

• George Orwell: A Collection of Essays

And these are technically not books, but Glenn Greenwald's "Speech to the Massachusetts ACLU" and the Christopher Hitchens speech criticizing the proposed Canadian hate speech law.

ghaffonApr 29, 2016

Both those ideas appear is some form in David Allen's GTD (Getting Things Done). I'm not a particularly big fan overall--I don't much care for systems. But some of his individual ideas include:

- the idea that, if you can do something in 5 minutes or so, just do it rather than keep putting it on to do lists.

- breaking down complex projects into discrete small concrete tasks.

Both are good ideas which do help me.

One thing about procrastination that often seems to be overlooked though is procrastinating about things that really do need to get done sooner or later (If I don't do the expense report, no one else is going to do it for me.) versus procrastinating about doing some project or making some plans because there's a voice questioning whether you really need to or want to do this project at all.

Now, I suppose in the latter case, a hyper-organized person would create an action item to "get more information" or something along those lines. But sometimes letting ideas just sit and percolate in a future projects queue works OK too.

mbrdonMar 5, 2016

If you haven't already read it, "Getting Things Done" by David Allen is one of the best known productivity books.

Some people I have spoken to say his method isn't for them but I've found it useful, even if I haven't implemented everything he suggests.

I'd also recommend "Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software" by Charles Petzold. It starts at simple circuits and builds up a picture of how computers work. It has really helped me get my mental models of what's going on inside a computer straightened out!

christiangencoonJan 14, 2016

Came here to post about followupthen[1]. They have a really generous free tier I haven't had to graduate from over six months of using it, and I find forwarding emails to "2016-01-20@fut.io" or "nexttuesday@fut.io" or "mar21@fut.io" to be much easier than moving it to the correct folder.

The system described in this post is too much like a digital Tickler file[2] for me - digital should be easier, not a less-convenient bodged approximation of what we'd do with paper.

1. https://www.followupthen.com

2. The system described by David Allen in "Getting Things Done" for being reminded of deferred actions https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tickler_file

srikzonJuly 8, 2019

Getting Things Done is a time management method, described in the book of the same title by productivity consultant David Allen. The GTD method rests on the idea of moving planned tasks and projects out of the mind by recording them externally and then breaking them into actionable work items.


euccastroonJuly 17, 2007

You can get a hint from the vocabulary in the article. I bet they are doing a web app based on David Allen's Getting Things Done.

Edit: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/mac/2005/03/08/productivity.... ; it has a link to a Python implementation based on plain text files, which is something I once did too for myself, but regrettably I didn't follow up with it.

SkeuomorphonSep 3, 2009

Try GTD, aka David Allen's "Getting Things Done".

Book: http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Things-Done-Stress-Free-Produc...

Read the book, then get a tool like "Things" (for OSX) or try web software like http://vitalist.com/ that works cross platform and supports some group collaboration too.

And about those software project management books -- the guy who evangelized software engineering for the past three decades just published an article saying he was wrong: http://bit.ly/pRrkd (links to PDF).

wkmeade2onDec 6, 2014

GTD. GTD = David Allen's book GETTING THINGS DONE which has been mentioned below already. I've lived the splatter-gun-to-focus process that GTD can create, if you stick with GTD. I blog about GTD on and off. Here is my before/after with pictures: http://restartgtd.com/gtd-journey-after/ and, here is my 5 year GTD time lapse of refactored desks and trusted systems: http://restartgtd.com/gtd-time-lapse/
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