Unfair review of “Getting Things Done” 2nd edition

Look, you should probably get this book. How’s that for an unfair review? Also, much of what started me off doing The Blank Screen can be traced back to David Allen and Getting Things Done so, you know, I do entirely believe that the man is smart and that this GTD is clever.


After more than a decade, he’s released an updated version of the Getting Things Done book and I can’t get through it. I got the opening 30 pages or so from iBooks as a sample and the book is only £6.99 but I can’t do it, I can’t buy it because I just know I won’t be able to press on

I just don’t think Allen is a writer. Brilliant ideas and such great, great experience, but not a writer. For instance, I don’t think he always knows what he’s conveying. Follow. This new book is a complete rewrite except that he admits it’s more a complete re-type: he did retype the entire book and he added and changed bits along the way. I can’t tell how much is new but the core ideas are the same and that’s how it should be.


For this edition I grappled with how much attention to continue to devote to paper-based tools and materials… as many in the younger generations have come to believe they don’t have to deal with paper at all.

Tell me I’m wrong, do, but I can see him tussling over the phrasing of this and trying to not sound like paper is best and we’re all eejits for not seeing it. I’m fine that he believes in paper but he doesn’t sound like anyone else’s belief could be valid. This is about paper and whether you make scribbles instead of typing into your phone yet it’s rankling like a religious issue.

Maybe that’s partly because in the run up to this passage I’ve been finding the writing a slog. Maybe it’s because a sentence or three later he can’t resist going “so there” on us with:

Ironically, there is a growing resurgence of interest in the use of paper among is the most sophisticatedly digital.

Is there? To give the man credit, he may write that line like a defensive drinker in a pub argument but he pops a footnote asterisk next to it. There’s no answering footnote in the sample so let’s give him credit and the benefit of the doubt too.

But even if this is correct, it isn’t me. So he’s not writing about my world and he isn’t writing well; he doesn’t have to do the former but he does the latter and that’s why I’ve got to skip the rest of the book.

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