Book Summary: Getting Things Done by David Allen

Getting Things Done by David Allen Book Cover

Getting Things Done by productivity guru David Allen teaches a practical system for becoming more organized, managing your workload, and increasing stress-free productivity. First published in 2001, the book provides detailed techniques for maximum efficiency based on Allen’s decades of research and expertise. It popularized concepts like capturing all your commitments in trusted external systems and clarifying next actions to enable focused progress.

Chapter 1 – The Art of Getting Things Done

In this chapter, Allen explains the methodology behind Getting Things Done or GTD. The key is to capture all the things you want to accomplish in a trusted system outside your mind. This clears your mind, reduces stress, and allows you to focus on taking clear next steps. You need to define actionable next steps and schedule them appropriately to make steady progress.

Chapter 2 – Getting Control of Your Life: The Five Stages of Mastering Workflow

Here Allen outlines the five-stage workflow for getting in control: 1) Collect everything from your mind and life into your inboxes. 2) Process and organize everything into appropriate categories like action, waiting for, projects etc. 3) Organize reminders and remaining actions into your preferred system. 4) Regularly review and update your lists. 5) Engage your intuitive mind to make focused decisions about your workflow.

Chapter 3 – Getting Projects Creatively Under Control

This chapter tackles how to use the GTD system for projects. Allen recommends breaking large projects into all their actionable next steps and storing these in your action lists. Maintain reminders about the overall project in your project lists. Regularly review project plans and completion dates. Use a flexible approach for projects, not overly strict organization.

Chapter 4 – Getting Control of Commitments

Here Allen focuses on techniques to track and fulfill all your commitments to others and yourself on time. He suggests keeping a comprehensive ‘waiting for’ list to follow up on anything you are waiting for from others. Maintain a ‘someday/maybe’ list for non-actionable ideas. Be disciplined about noting all verbal agreements as commitments.

Chapter 5 – Getting Projects Creatively Under Control

This chapter provides tips for storing and reviewing your system, like having a weekly review to clean up and update lists. Allen recommends organizing actions by context like calls, errands, computer etc. He also explains setting up reminders in your calendar for future actions. Keep your system as streamlined and portable as possible.

See also  Book Summary: Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono


Getting Things Done provides a practical framework to become focused, organized, and stress-free by effectively managing all your commitments. David Allen’s wisdom on productivity and workflow has helped millions get control of their work and personal lives. By systematically capturing all your to-dos and clarifying next actions, you can be hugely more productive and successful. Getting Things Done remains the gold standard manual for personal productivity.

Interested in reading the whole book?

Buy the book “Getting Things Done” on Amazon

Buy the book on Amazon

Check out my youtube channel to listen to new book summaries everyday.


Please consider donating if my site has helped you