Getting Things Done (Penguin Books; Revised edition; March 17, 2015)

Biography

David Allen is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert on personal and organizational productivity. His thirty-year pioneering research and coaching to corporate managers and CEOs of some of America’s most prestigious corporations and institutions has earned him Forbes’ recognition as one of the top five executive coaches in the U.S. and Business 2.0 magazine’s inclusion in their 2006 list of the “50 Who Matter Now.” Time Magazine called his flagship book, “Getting Things Done”, “the definitive business self-help book of the decade.” Fast Company Magazine called David “one of the world’s most influential thinkers” in the arena of personal productivity, for his outstanding programs and writing on time and stress management, the power of aligned focus and vision, and his groundbreaking methodologies in management and executive peak performance.

David is the international best-selling author of “Getting Things Done: the Art of Stress-Free Productivity”; “Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life”; and “Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life”.

He is the engineer of GTD®, the popular Getting Things Done® methodology that has shown millions how to transform a fast-paced, overwhelming, overcommitted life into one that is balanced, integrated, relaxed, and has more successful outcomes. GTD’s broad appeal is based on the fact that it is applicable from the boardroom to the living room to the class room. It is hailed as “life changing” by students, busy parents, entrepreneurs and corporate executives. David is the Founder and Chairman of the David Allen Company, whose inspirational seminars, coaching, educational materials and practical products present individuals and organizations with a new model for “Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life.” He continues to write articles and essays that address today’s ever-changing issues about living and working in a fast-paced world while sustaining balance, control, and meaningful focus. –from Amazon.com

My Review

I started reading this in January 2016, and as a result the scope of one of my 2016 goals increased several times. What I had intended to complete in January to lay the groundwork for my best year ever is still not done in March. This hardly sounds like a ringing endorsement of the book, yet it is. It would be foolish to think that years of storing without order would be reversed without lots of work. I quickly realized that my goal of cleaning my home office while great would not have created an environment where that would be its perpetual state with my initial goal. That meant cleaning out file drawers that haven’t been touched in 10 years. It meant cleaning out drawers that collected whatever didn’t have a place. And it meant only putting things back if that was the place for them. When I’m done, and I will finish, my workspace will allow me to be more productive. Not only has this book helped bring order to my physical stuff, but it also reminded me that I need to have it extend to my digital world as well.

You could be forgiven at this point for thinking that this is a book about getting to clean. That’s only the welcome byproduct of the process. This is really a book about shifting the way you think about an inbox, and storage. In the digital world, inbox zero is all the rage. And that’s a good thing. E-mail programs make poor databases. Yet for many of us, we store unprocessed e-mail in our inboxes. That’s going to change for me as well, as the things I need to do from an e-mail make it into my trusted system for follow-up, or I take immediate action if whatever needs to be done can be done in two minutes or less.

Perhaps, that is the single most beneficial thing from the book, doing what will only take two minutes right away, removes us from even having to track our progress on it. However, if you’re like me, you’ll likely include the task to check off anyway!

Escalating Violence

The Human Condition

As disturbing as the escalating violence is that seems to keep occurring in large, and small ways the nation over, there is something that is even more disconcerting. We’re wired this way. It is important to notice that I didn’t say, “they’re wired that way.” In truth, each of us react to injustice, whether perceived or actual. The reason for it is because that’s the way God made us. Our nation has insisted on taking God out of the equation, and this is what happens. With God banished, somebody needs to administer justice. Somebody needs to be feared. The police cannot be everywhere, nor can the looters, rioters, snipers, gunmen, and other terrorists. But because we’ve removed the fear of God from the equation, we’ve eliminated the only One who can be everywhere at once.

Many of the people who are destroying property in the name of justice are cowardly wearing hoods and masks, as if somehow that hides them. Marginalize God all you want, but a mask and a hood aren’t going to do the trick. There isn’t a one of us who can hide from God. If God can find someone in the abyss of hell, he can find me anywhere I might think I can hide. Yet that didn’t stop Adam, and it doesn’t stop me from trying. Why is that? We’re wired that way!

So, if we’re wired this way, and it’s faulty, how do we go about changing the wiring? That’s the great news. Jesus paid the price to change the wiring on the cross, and now I can be redeemed. I can let him change the wiring. The problem is that we think that Jesus is done with the work on our lives since our eternity is secure. The truth is I am still a diamond in the rough, and I think I’m ready to be set in the wedding band. I don’t consider my own life honestly and soberly. I think of myself more highly than I ought, and I buy into the culture that says, “nobody else is going to look out for me, so I need to look out for myself.”

Couple this looking out for myself, and being outraged over the perceived mistreatment of others, and the misguided idea that nobody should have any weapons for self defense and the defense of others, and you have a society that is out of balance ready to go full tilt on a hair trigger. So, our solution is to regulate guns? To excuse away riotous behavior giving them space to express themselves? No! Murder is already illegal by whatever means it is accomplished. And riots? Does anyone really think we should give them space?

Discriminate |disˈkriməˌnāt|

The national spotlight is on my home state, Indiana in a huge way. All over our enactment of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. Given my history of talking about such issues, rest assured I’ve been chomping at the bit to write. I’ve started on three different occasions, and haven’t quite hit on exactly what to say that’s really any different or helpful. Then it occurred to me what all the hubbub is about. Discrimination. 

Things That Are Not As They Appear

Some would say that traditional biblical marriage has been defeated in Indiana by the ruling of a court. I do not share that opinion. Now before you think I agree with the ruling, and I’ve abandoned what God thinks about this subject, let me remind you of the title of this post! It really doesn’t matter what I think, or what a court does at the end of the day. Neither one of us can add an inch to my height, or prolong my days beyond the number ordained by God. By the same token, neither can my life be shortened unless God also allows.

This has me wondering. Why is it that so many people who call themselves Christians are so afraid to lovingly speak the truth? Why is it that we seem to fear what men will think of us instead of warning people about the dangers of defying God? Why do we live our lives as if the way things appear are the way they actually are? Are we really that uncertain of what the future holds? Do we really not trust God as much as we say we do?

First Amendment or First Commandment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. – 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution

One might be forgiven for wondering what the Constitution is worth these days, when a long standing amendment has been eroded beyond recognition.  A more somber question follows this next quote.

You shall have no other gods before me. – 1st Commandment – Exodus 20:3

Haven’t we really made government our god?  We are paralyzed by our fear of our government, when these amendments, and the 1st Commandment were meant to empower us, not encumber us.

To whom will you liken me and make me equal,
and compare me, that we may be alike?
Those who lavish gold from the purse,
and weigh out silver in the scales,
hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god;
then they fall down and worship!
They lift it to their shoulders, they carry it,
they set it in its place, and it stands there;
it cannot move from its place.
If one cries to it, it does not answer
or save him from his trouble. – Isaiah 46:5-7

It is a sad day in our country when we fail to realize the correlation between the First Commandment and the First Amendment. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” in large part recognizes the limits of government and its place before God. Thinking that any government can control God is irrational. Congress with all its power cannot keep a single star in its place. A king no matter the size of his realm cannot lengthen a day, nor can a president keep a tornado from touching down. But God can. In fact God can even protect people in the flimsiest of hiding spots.

We might further be tempted to think that the IRS can stop God, given the seeming paralysis of the church fearing the loss of their tax free status. But, a growing number of pastors are realizing that they must speak the truth regardless of the consequences.

The truth is that unless we realize that anything we elevate to God’s level is a worthless man-made idol incapable of solving any problem, let alone moving heaven and earth, we are doomed to repeating the errors of previous great civilizations. We’ve given in to the lie we’ve been buying since the Devil tricked Eve. We think we can become like God, and something we create can become God. Who do we think we are fooling?

Halloween & Elections!

We buy candy every year to hand out to trick-or-treaters who come to our door.  We’re happy to do it.  It is interesting to see the costumes, or in some cases the lack of them.  This year I saw a couple of Jokers, and thought of the Motley Fool.  But if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know there’s something else coming.  And you’re right.  You can tell quite a bit about the character of the kids who come to your door.  When they say, “Trick or treat”, and I say, “Pick one”, many of them do exactly that, and I’m impressed.  Then there was one young girl who asked, “how many?”  I responded with my standard, “Pick one.”  And she did.  A very polite young girl.  Those that know me well are waiting for this one.  “Trick or treat”, they said.  I said “Pick one.”  I think they were trying to pick one, and got two.  One fell on the ground, and they picked it up, and put it in their bag.  I had no problem with that.  Now here’s what you’ve been waiting for.  Her brother grabbed as much as he could fit in his hand.  I had to say, “Whoa there, JUST one.”

You didn’t think I was done with my story did you?  Good!  Because I have a lesson we all need to learn from this experience.  You would never be the person who takes more than somebody is willing to share, but if you aren’t then both of your neighbors are.  How can I make that statement?  Well, look at it this way, at least one out of every two people in this country are receiving more generosity from their government than they are paying for.  In fact a significant number of your neighbors (because you’d never do it) are not paying any income tax at all.  They’re like the kid thrilled with getting candy for free, who looks at the full basket of candy I have, and instead of taking one, takes as many as they can grab with their hand.  Maybe you’re tempted to say what’s wrong with that?  What happens if during the course of the evening I run out because the first ten kids take handfuls?  What do I do when the next 20 kids come to my house?  Are they going to be “mad” at the first 10 kids?  Maybe, but my guess is they’re going to be “mad” at me because I didn’t buy enough candy.  What if I can’t afford more candy?  What then?  Will they know that?

This pretty much defines the life of a small business owner, or any business owner for that matter.  People want businesses to give away their product without making a profit, because profit is “bad”.  Or having a profit is seen as being greedy.  News flash, if business owners are not able to make a profit, there’s no incentive for them to be in business.  They won’t be able to afford any candy to give away to the kids for Halloween.  Citizens are more than willing to push the taxes on those “wealthy business owners” and their businesses, asking them to “pay their fair share.”  If only it was their fair share, but in reality business owners and successful people are being asked to pay more than their fair share.

I’m pushing back, and asking everyone to pay their fair share, including the poor.  If you think your fair share is too much, elect people to represent you who promise to reduce the size and scope of all layers of government.  If they are not able to get the job done, don’t elect them again.  You see, term limits are a bad idea.  They force us to get rid of people who are getting the job done, in the name of stopping those who are not getting the job done.  The thing is, there are already term limits.  We just have to have the resolve to enforce them.  Every office has a length of term, otherwise we wouldn’t keep on having elections.

For once, ignore your party affiliation, and think about what electing the individual means.  If they’ve held office for any length of time, have they helped the country?  Or have they helped their own political career?  Have they been self-serving, or have they truly taken on the tough challenges and solved them?  I’d say there are 16 trillion reasons to say they have not tackled the toughest challenge!  It is time to elect people who are serious about resolving our debt problem.  The way you can tell they are serious, is if they are willing to curb government’s voracious appetite for spending more than tax revenues support.  In order for me to not run out of candy, I need each child to take just one piece.  In order for our government to not run out of money, we need to make sure our government isn’t doing more than it needs to do.  We need to make sure we aren’t trying to take advantage of our government, because when we do we are really stealing from our neighbors, or from the kids who come later.  That’s the real greed.  The businessman’s profit allows him to keep meeting the needs of society.  The businesswoman’s profit allows her to build up reserves for a rainy day.  And if our government operated this way, and instead of a 16 trillion dollar debt, we had a 16 trillion dollar surplus, then President Obama can talk about making any investment he wants to make to get our economy going again.  But honestly, he wouldn’t have to because we wouldn’t be in this problem in the first place.  And there wouldn’t be a person in their right mind who would want a two term limit on somebody who was able to turn a 16 trillion debt into a 16 trillion dollar surplus.  Unfortunately, President Obama took a 10 trillion dollar debt and turned it into a 16 trillion dollar debt.  That’s the wrong direction.

Well, Trick or Treating has come to an end here, so I’ll wrap this up.  Let me know what you think!