I have a lot of respect – and time – for the work of Edwin C. Bliss. He worked as a business consultant, author, and time management expert in the 1970s/80s (and possibly beyond).
I read two of his books over the past few months. Even though they are obviously dated in some ways, both of them i thought were excellent. (References are at the bottom of this post.) His third, and last, book is on its way to me in the post, and i can’t vouch for it yet.
E.C. Bliss writes eloquently, with humour, originality, and the information presented is well-researched with ample references.
His written work resonates remarkably well with David Allen’s productivity method “Getting Things Done” (2003), for instance:
1. Edwin C. Bliss published a book titled Getting Things Done in 1976. This was nearly 27 years before David Allen’s first publication under the same name. Allen has trademarked Getting Things Done & GTD since.
2. In his book Doing It Now (1984), Bliss advocated dividing a project into “a series of tiny tasks, each of which, considered separately, is manageable.” David Allen, also strongly argued that office work should be converted into smaller steps called “widgets” each of which represents a small step in the right direction.
3. Bliss recommended having a weekly review to monitor work progress. This corresponds to the 4th stage in David Allen’s 5 Stages of Mastering Workflow called Review.
4. Bliss strongly believed in list building and he stressed this regularly in his writings. Lists are the condicio sine qua non of GTD, too.
5. Bliss was a proponent of writing things down (e.g. “A pencil and piece of paper are two of the most powerful tools of time management”). David Allen often talked about “distributed cognition,” but that’s only different in name.
6. Bliss quotes William James as “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” David Allen puts it as “Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.”
7. Bliss describes the “three D’s” when handling work: “Do it, Delegate it, or Ditch it.” David Allen also identifies three options when processing actions: “Do it, Delegate it, or Defer it”.
I’d still highly recommend the books of Bliss.