i rarely ever say that someone is a genius, but i'm going to seriously claim that david allen is a genius, at least in the realms of organization and increasing productivity. i've never read a more useful book. the method he promotes for accomplishing whatever you want to do is by far the most potentially effective thing of its kind i've ever seen. it requires work to set up and maintain, but what doesn't? what you get for the effort is the important thing, and within the last week, without even fully implementing the suggestions in the book, i've made some easy changes that are already making my life work more smoothly.
first, allen defines work as anything you want to change. that means that everything you want to change in your personal and professional capacities is work that you can manage more effectively. if you want to reorganize your cookbooks, that counts as work that you want to do. he defines a project as anything that takes more than one step to complete. the book is about how to get your stuff done as well, and as efficiently, as you can.
allen's method for making this happen is to get you to capture all of your ideas and plans outside of your head in a place that you'll review them consistently, so that you can clear your mind of all the nattering "things to do" that we all have to keep track of. once you trust that those things are written in a safe place where they won't be forgotten, a lot of mental energy will be liberated for creative thinking.
he has some valuable things to say about how to plan a project, starting with a clear purpose for why you want to do whatever you're doing, and developing a vision about what your accomplishment will look like when it's done, followed by brainstorming about how to do it and organizing the way to make it happen. then it's easy to decide what action to take next.
allen also covers the range of levels in life, from the minute-to-minute details all the way up to life goals and purpose.
my only complaint about the book is that it's written in american business dialect, and i'm not kidding. for example, i think he managed to use the term "ad hoc" multiple times in every chapter, when a word like "spontaneously" might have at least been used to change things up now and then. he made the book remarkably readable despite that handicap, and that's an impressive achievement!
imo, *every* functioning adult alive could benefit from reading this book. i can't recommend it highly enough.