Review: Ready For Anything, 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done by David Allen

Review: Ready For Anything, 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done by David Allen.

ISBN-10: 0143034545
ISBN-13: 978-0143034544


  • Advice is presented in intense, “bite-sized” sets of tips that make for easy reading.
  • Little wasted space
  • Stories help illustrate the points.
  • Comes with insightful exercises to get the most out of the advice – and shock you into awareness.


  • You really have to read “Getting Things Done” to get the most value out of the book.

SUMMARY: An indispensable, insight-filled companion to “Getting Things Done” – just read that book first.

I feel ashamed I haven’t read David Allen‘s other books. I consider his “Getting Things Done” to be all but indispensable to people who want to be productive; it certainly changed how I work on the job and at home. But I never paid attention to his other books for reasons of . . . I never thought of it.

When showing a friend the advantage of David Allen’s system, I decided it was time to fix that, and grabbed “Ready for Anything” and “Making It All Work.” So you can tell A) how much I like David Allen, and B) there’s one more review coming in the future.

So let me get this out of the way – this book is really a companion to “Getting Things Done.” Sure you could read it without that book, but it really works well if you have because the advice and terms simply make more sense. This is a companion work that just happens to work pretty independently.

Now, either way, this is simply a good book.

As opposed to voluminous advice and diagrams, or his earlier work on systems, Allen presents several principles for being more productive, presented in a series of general categories. Each principle takes only a few pages to describe, focuses on a particular subject, and comes with quick exercises in the end.

This has several advantages:

  • First, there’s very little fluff here. Allen jumps right to the core of his advice. Admittedly as I used similar techniques I’m biased, but really, it works well.
  • You can read this book and review it very easily. You can read three pages and stop, or fifty pages and stop.
  • The focus leads to intense, insightful understandings of what he’s saying.
  • If one principle is old hat or useless, you don’t waste much time until you’re on to something you can use.

Each principle is described, at times with stories, with quotes that illustrate the point, and exercises at the end. These exercises really hammer home the points he’s making in the classic coaching method of leading you to your own insights. Take the time to think them over.

To give an example, one principle is “The clearer your purpose, the more ways to fulfill it” which makes a lot of sense when your realize if you know what you get ideas on how to make it happen. One of the exercises is to ask which of your routines just feels worn out – and simply asks what would happen if you stopped?

You get the idea. He’s not above messing with you and asking things about doing what scares you or simply stopping something (if only in your head) to see what happens.

I could go on, but in the sake of efficiency (and in the spirit of Mr. Allen of course) and simply say that if you’ve read his first book and it helped, read this. It’s a keeper, and one you’ll probably go back to.

Reviewing his books is probably a . . . productive . . . use of your time.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at