Book Review: Making It All Work

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Those who consistently read this site know that I am a big fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done method of organizing all of your work. “Work” in this instance means all of your work in your life, not just your employer’s work.

I started practicing this method when I read David’s first book, Getting Things Done – the art of stress free productivity. By the time I hit the third chapter, David had pretty much described my life – too many e-mails, too many tasks and getting lost in the weeds of work. As for figuring out why I was on the planet – who had time?

Getting Things Done saved my sanity and I gladly implemented what was in that book into my life.

But the Getting Things Done method was taking something on faith – you can see it working, know how to make the method better for you as an individual, but you don’t necessarily understand the mystery behind the method. To be fair, perhaps David didn’t either at the time.

In the years since Getting Things Done was published, the followers of “GTD” have taken off – because the method works. Getting Things Done is the first organizational method that works in the information age where everything is coming at you fast and furious.

But the “knowing” of why GTD works was still a work in progress.

Enter Making It All Work. In this book, David lays out the reasons the GTD method works. In addition, the years between Getting Things Done and Making It All Work have shown how to make the framework of the method easier to understand.

In essence, stress free productivity centers on two concepts: control and perspective. One needs control to know all of the moving parts and where they are in your life. One needs perspective to determine if those moving parts make any sense to be part of your life. While control and perspective appear mutually exclusive, they are, in fact, interdependent. You can’t have control if you don’t have perspective and you can’t get perspective if you don’t have control.

The best of control and perspective makes you “Captain and Commander” of your life.

The book goes through each portion of the GTD methodology and explains why each works. Implementing the method as you read the book would help you do the practical implementation steps of the method while simultaneously understanding why that particular portion of the method makes sense.

Making It All Work gives you the ability to set up a GTD system that works for you, but I view it as a book that lays out the reasons the method works. If you were curious if this organization method would work for you (and it will), buy the book to see the strategy and tactics that make GTD work. If you decide to seriously implement the method, you may find that also buying Getting Things Done will help you set up your systems in a way that the context of Making It All Work explains.

Cube Rules Rating: Five Cubes (everyone should have this book)

We’re not going back to a world where one big thing a month happens to you. We are past the point where a simple “to do” list is enough to track your commitments. “ABC” priorities don’t make sense when your manager changes your priorities every day. Getting Things Done is a method and a set of tools that help you maintain your productivity while reducing your stress. Everyone should look at the method and see how it can be implemented in their lives.

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