Non-politics: David Allen's 'GTD Times'

It was only four years ago that I wrote in the Atlantic about David Allen, the "productivity expert" and inventor of the influential Getting Things Done (GTD) approach to life. I say "only" four years because it feels as if Allen and his outlook have been with me for a much longer time.

It's hard to top the wonderful LifeHacker blog as a source for practical tips about gadgetry workplace tools, habits, and shortcuts, many in the GTD spirit. But for the last six months, David Allen's organization has been operating its own "official" blog, called GTD Times. I like it -- and as a sample, I direct your attention to this recent post, arguing that you really do become dumber and slower if you try to do too many things at the same time. This applies not only to that modern plague of texting-while-driving (or walking) but also to having a zillion IM and other popup windows on your screen while you work. For doubters, there is a sobering online test to demonstrate the point, taken from the book The Myth of Multitasking.

What other point was I going to make? I forget, I was thinking about something else...

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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