This book review is part of a series that covers the topic of Management Skills, those skills which allow one to manage either their personal time, plans, and goals, or professionally manage a group of people, deadline, or project. Meryl Runion is the Official Guide to Management Skills.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen, is a valuable resource for people interested in Management Skills, and it is available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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With first-chapter allusions to martial arts, "flow," "mind like water," and other concepts borrowed from the East (and usually mangled), you'd almost think this self-helper from David Allen should have been called Zen and the Art of Schedule Maintenance.

Not quite. Yes, Getting Things Done offers a complete system for downloading all those free-floating gotta-do's clogging your brain into a sophisticated framework of files and action lists--all purportedly to free your mind to focus on whatever you're working on. However, it still operates from the decidedly Western notion that if we could just get really, really organized, we could turn ourselves into 24/7 productivity machines. (To wit, Allen, whom the New Economy bible Fast Company has dubbed "the personal productivity guru," suggests that instead of meditating on crouching tigers and hidden dragons while you wait for a plane, you should unsheathe that high-tech saber known as the cell phone and attack that list of calls you need to return.)

As whole-life-organizing systems go, Allen's is pretty good, even fun and therapeutic. It starts with the exhortation to take every unaccounted-for scrap of paper in your workstation that you can't junk, The next step is to write down every unaccounted-for gotta-do cramming your head onto its own scrap of paper. Finally, throw the whole stew into a giant "in-basket"

That's where the processing and prioritizing begin; in Allen's system, it get a little convoluted at times, rife as it is with fancy terms, subterms, and sub-subterms for even the simplest concepts. Thank goodness the spine of his system is captured on a straightforward, one-page flowchart that you can pin over your desk and repeatedly consult without having to refer back to the book. That alone is worth the purchase price. Also of value is Allen's ingenious Two-Minute Rule: if there's anything you absolutely must do that you can do right now in two minutes or less, then do it now, thus freeing up your time and mind tenfold over the long term. It's commonsense advice so obvious that most of us completely overlook it, much to our detriment; Allen excels at dispensing such wisdom in this useful, if somewhat belabored, self-improver aimed at everyone from CEOs to soccer moms (who we all know are more organized than most CEOs to start with). --Timothy Murphy --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

David Allen is president of David Allen & Co. and has more than twenty years' experience as a management consultant, executive coach, and educator. He has been a keynote speaker and productivity facilitator for organizations such as Oracle, L. L. Bean, Microsoft, Lockheed, and the World Bank.His work has been featured in Fast Company, Fortune, and many other publications.

Author's Bio: 

This book review is part of a series that covers the topic of Management Skills. The Official Guide to Management Skills is Meryl Runion. Meryl Runion, CSP, is a Certified Speaking Professional and the author of four books on communication. Her books have sold over 250,000 copies worldwide. She is the author of a weekly email newsletter called A PowerPhrase a Week, which boast thousands of subscribers. Her clients include IBM, who find her to be systematic, the IRS who particularly love her in April, and the FBI, who find her to be a person of interest.

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Meryl Runion, The Official Guide to Management Skills