Book Review: Ready For Anything

David Allen, found of GTD, is the man Fast Company calls ‘the personal productivity guru’. Today we review the companion book to Getting Things Done; Ready for Anything : 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life, a collection of 52 of Allen’s essays on productivity.

Do You Need to Have Read GTD?

The obvious question is if you need to have read Getting Things Done : The Art of Stress-Free Productivity to appreciate this book. It certainly helps, as Allen refers to his GTD concepts from time to time to make a point, but it’s not necessary. You can apply a lot of what he writes in this book even if you haven’t read or aren’t familiar with the GTD method.

Perspective is the Most Valuable Commodity on the Planet

The 52 productivity principles are organized into 5 parts; Clear Your Head for Creativity, Focus Productively, Create Structures that Work, Relax and Get in Motion & Remind Yourself of the Fundamentals.

Each principle is introduced in a bite-sized essay about 2-3 pages long, and include insights like the headline above. It’s refreshing to read a book that’s not repeating the same lightweight generalizations about achievement over and over again.

Instead, what you’ll find in Ready for Anything are thoughtful reflections on maximizing productivity – defined by Allen as ‘making something happen with as little effort as possible.’ Let me share some excerpts from my favorite principles.

Cleaning Up Creates New Directions

Completion of open loops, whether they be major projects or boxes of old stuff we’ve yet to purge and organize, prepares the ground for cleaner, clearer, and more complete energy for whatever shows up. We’re often not sure what’s next or what to tackle.

At that point, just clean or complete something – something obvious and in front of you, right away. Soon you’ll have the energy and clarity to know what’s next, and you’ll have cleared the decks for more effective responsiveness on every front. Process your in-basket, purge your emails, or clean your center desk drawer. You’ve got to do it sometime anyway.

You Won’t See How to Do It Until You See Yourself Doing It

Your brain’s pattern-recognition mechanism is triggered by the images you identify with and the focus you hold. You see the outcome first, and then you are unconsciously made conscious of information. Whether it’s how to catch a ball, create a company, or care for your parents, the vision comes first.

If you won’t see yourself having or doing something until you see how to do it, you’ll never recognize the methods, though they are all around you. Notice what you notice and how you make that happen.

Small Things, Done Consistently, Create Major Impact

Real change occurs not with a flash in the pan but with steady engagement at some new level of interaction. An automatic investment of a small percentage of your income, attending an exercise class every week, consistently sharing about your realities with your staff or family, sitting down to a regular contemplative or meditative reflection every evening – these are the keys to significant progress.

Who Should Buy This Book?

Ready for Anything : 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life

Allen is a personal productivity coach, and the amount of experience and thought he’s put into the subject of productivity shows in Ready for Anything.

Because the book is divided into 52 mini-chapters, each 2-3 pages long, it’s easy to read – you can flip to any page and digest that chapter, once you finish that you can pick the book up again where you left off or anywhere else.

I’ve enjoyed and learned from this book tremendously, I still pick up and go through from time to time. I love it when a book gives you an ‘aha’ moment – or what Allen called ‘a blinding flash of the obvious’ in his book – and Ready for Anything is full of ‘aha’ moments.

I recommend it highly for anyone who wants a productivity book that’s not centered on abstract principles, but is focused on real, applicable steps. Get it now at your local bookstores or buy it now from Amazon.

5 Responses to “Book Review: The Way of The Superior Man”

  1. Alex Shalman
    February 8 2007 at 9:31 am #

    Hey Alvin,

    That post should be on the back of the book! I’ll be adding it to my amazon shopping list. Thanks for the heads up.

    AS –

  2. Kloudiia
    February 9 2007 at 1:06 am #

    “I know I’ve just read a good book when 1) I want my friends to read it 2) I want to re-read it again after I finish.”

    Does that apply to my book as well? It better be ya! This is not a request, but a threat! hahaha :D

    Hmm, this book sounds interesting. Thanks for the review!

  3. Alvin Soon
    February 10 2007 at 3:16 am #

    Haha Kloudiia, I look forward to holding your printed book in my hand!

  4. Dave
    February 19 2007 at 6:59 am #

    Alvin – great review. You captured what I like about his book as well. I haven’t reviewed it yet on my Blog – I just finished it. I will be recommending it to my clients.

  5. Affirmation Steve
    December 24 2009 at 1:04 am #

    A great little review for one of my desert-island books too. Thanks!
    The Way of the Superior Man should be syllabus reading for all teenage boys at school. We would live in a much less confused and problematical world if it was.