Ready for Organizing Philosophy

August 7, 2007

Chicken or the Egg

I received ‘Ready for Anything’ (RfA) as a belated birthday present from my sister. She saw it on my Amazon wish list. It proves that once it’s on a list, the mind can forget about it and go on to the next thing. This came as a surprise. I don’t remember putting it on the list. Earlier, I dismissed this book in a conversation with Jennifer George, who thoroughly analyzed the text. I’ve been wondering several points about this slim book. I want to make comparisons to it as investigations into the organization philosophy. This book was born after ‘Getting Things Done’. In the order of thing, ‘Ready for Anything’ is the egg. If I compare the two, Ready for Anything is the philosophy in which GTD is the systematic execution, a methodology. There are some 52 short sections, which can be read as or compare to Koan. At times they are like Koan, because of they are mysterious in nature. At times, it’s hard to understand without a through understanding, and systematic practice of GTD. At times, RfA is a ‘Cliffnote’, a synopsis for the real text. Even though it is written after GTD, I wonder if this could have been a prequel, a predecessor, a subconsciousness lurking underneath GTD. It acts as if an introduction to the systematic execution of a process. In some ways, I prefer RfA, as it is not as dogmatic as GTD nor is it as instructional. It is rather a pondering about a methodology, a pretense for the rigor which is spelled out in GTD. The marvel of it is that, as systematic as GTD is, people who have read it devised their own system. GTD methodology is flexible. Another book by David Allen could not have conjure up a better scheme. It is better to revisit the existing scheme with new eyes and perspectives. I think that this is what RfA does best.

Eastern Philosophy or emptiness….

Interestingly, the majority of the book is spent defending his theory against the ‘Priority Based’. This was and may still be the pervasive thinking. When I was a ‘Franklin Covey’ (FC) guy, I didn’t prioritize my tasks either. In Eastern Philosophy, we are taught not to look at the duality of good or evil. Thus, prioritizing seems to pass on a judgment. I struggle with the goals and mission statements. Because at the time, I concentrate on the moment, the present. Again, this is a Zen philosophy. The other is the notion of Emptiness, which relates to Feng Shui. It is an idea that if your mind is empty it can receive insights. If your channels of energy is clear, more energy will flow. I would say that the majority of GTD philosophy is based on Easter Philosophy. David’s analogue to the ‘Mind like water’ is a zen practice. Stephen Smith has caught on to this and have found quotations from ‘The Book of Five Rings’ which matches David’s thinking. In RfA, much of the quotations are peppered along the margin. I find these quotes match well with the text and marvel at how David has found them to seamlessly illustrate his point.

52 card pick up

Strangely enough, the number 52 made me think of Decks of Cards. Because GTD has been adapted into the Hpda, index size, I wonder if the whole book can be squeezed down into this playing card version. Each sections can be on a card, maybe in a form of a Haiku: Collect, Process, Organize,/Review, Do (it). I think Jenifer George is right in saying that the chapters don’t relate or appear to be in any particular order. True to the form of non- prioritization, this book can function well as a shuffle deck of card. There is a theory of randomness and chance and organized chaos. This is where we step into the new age territory.  

‘Ready for Anything’ at amazon  book store

digg story

the simple dollar 2007/06/03/review-ready-for-anything

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3 Responses to “Ready for Organizing Philosophy”

  1. Stephen Says:

    “Organized Chaos”. Perfect.

  2. Max Leibman Says:

    “Even though it is written after GTD, I wonder if this could have been a prequel, a predecessor, a subconsciousness lurking underneath GTD.”

    I agree. I believe Allen himself has suggested that the best order to read the books is simultaneous–to read the first few chapters of GTD (the ones that outline the process in brief) then to read RfA to get inspired to do the full-on implementation of GTD, then go back and finish the first book.

    Re: the idea of cards, I hadn’t thought of that. The 52 only made me think of weeks. For a while, I making a point of reading a chapter and trying to answer the “food for thought” questions at the end at the start of my Weekly Review.

  3. ducly Says:

    Max, I hadn’t thought about 52 weeks but I think that’s a good idea!


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