I must admit that I first got hold of Mark Forster‘s book last September (2006) and only finished reading it just before Easter this year. This has less to do with the content of the book and more to do with the turmoil that was going on in my own life at the time. “Maybe if I’d read the book straight off there’d have been less turmoil?”, well that’s a possibility. The reason I mention this is because I can recall little about the first 50% of the book that I read piecemeal; but the rest is very fresh in my mind. Anyway, here goes the review.
The main thrust of Mark’s book seems to be concerned with handling the constant flow of incoming tasks that bombard us daily from email, telephone calls, colleagues, family and friends. How do we manage all these new pressures on our time? Mark’s premise is that anything that arrives today is to be done tomorrow (unless you’re working in an industry that requires an immediate response). This recognizes and respects that a day is a finite resource and that you can’t do more in a day than you have the time and resources to do. So anything new is for tomorrow.
So far I don’t think this is particularly radical as it appears to be what anyone doing GTD would be doing; anything new goes into an In-box unless it can be done in under 2 minutes. However where I feel Mark’s book adds value to GTD is with the suggestion of using a Closed List. Whereas GTD maintains a number of open ended action lists Mark suggests that these are counter productive because they are continually being added to; there’s never a chance of finishing a list and this can be demotivating. As you can only do a set amount in a day Mark suggests making a daily Closed List of the things that you are going to do that day. A heavy line is drawn under that list and (within reason) nothing is added above the line.
For me this is a very useful exercise. It means that every evening I have to review all the things I want to get done in the near future and make a conscious decision about which ones I’m going to do tomorrow. Then I start tomorrow knowing that I’ve a fixed amount to get through and not an open ended list of stuff. It gives me a great sense of achievement to complete my daily Closed List.
Finally I promise I will go back to Mark’s book and re-read it straight through to make sure I haven’t missed anything from the first half.
I award this book three stars: * * *