Getting Things Done® Fri, 20 Jan 2017 20:12:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Do you have problems or projects? Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:54:41 +0000 Have you got any “stuff” that needs clarifying as a “project” for your Projects list? Anything that you’d call a “problem” right now that should be labeled a project, with a next action? Think about situations and circumstances in your world this week. Anything emerge that still needs resolution or clarification? Make it a project to “Clarify…” or “Resolve…” You don’t have to know how to clarify or resolve it to call it a project. Just focus on the outcome and get an action to move toward it. –David Allen

For more support on your projects, the Level 2: Projects & Priorities course takes a deep dive into capturing and clarifying your projects. Our Managing Projects audio set is also a great resource for learning about this critical component to GTD.



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Processing email with GTD Thu, 19 Jan 2017 01:42:04 +0000 The more facile you get with the GTD models, the faster you’ll be at processing your input, such as new email. We’ve found it takes most people about 30 seconds to process something. That means making a clear decision about what “done” (the outcome) and the “doing” (the next action) looks like. No software will do that thinking for you—but the GTD models will certainly assist you in improving your efficiency, productivity, and speed in processing.
–David Allen



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Get your life back to widget-cranking! Thu, 12 Jan 2017 01:21:02 +0000 Oh, for a widget-cranking job again! Ever have gigs like that, where all you did was crank widgets? Like a summer job in college? Remember how bored you were, and how psychologically healthy it was? All you had to do was show up. Every morning there was a big pile of un-cranked widgets, right next to the widget-cranking machine (with your name on it). It was not confusing—what to do, or how to spend your day. And what did you get to experience all day? Completion! Crank…widget! Crank…widget!

5 o’clock—outa here! How many thoughts of widgets or widget cranking did you have until the next day? Zero. And how much energy did you have to boogie (and other things) that night? Tons. Because you were young? No, because you were cranking widgets.

Those jobs are still available, though not nearly as many. But there’s a problem. You want what kind of car? What kind of home? What kind of school for your kids? Oops. You’ve probably gotten used to a lifestyle for which the value you add for cranking widgets won’t pay. Now you’ve got to manage widget crankers, and three are a real pain. You’ve got to design systems for widget cranking, and you’ve got computers that won’t talk to each other. Or you’re supposed to be growing a senior team that will help you think about whether widgets are what you need to be cranking three years from now or not. Not so easy.

You need to get those much more complex and ambiguous jobs back to the widgets you need to crank about them. No matter how sophisticated the work, the action steps that make it happen always boil down to: Email Bill. Draft ideas on the strategic plan. Call Susan. Buy paint. Look up consultants on the Web. We just have to think a little bit, to define and list those specific actions, and then we can get back to the free, fun, and clear kind of energy we had with the more mindless jobs that kept us so healthy in our heads.

My life and work are back to the cranking widgets level. It’s great. For the most part, I really think about all my stuff once a week in the GTD Weekly Review®, to identify the right widgets to crank. I use that time to be intelligent enough to define the things to do when I’m not so smart. The rest of the time I get to be sort of dumb and happy, doing smart things.

–David Allen

This essay appeared in David Allen’s Productive Living Newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

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Episode #25 – Making Change Stick Sat, 31 Dec 2016 18:55:56 +0000 David Allen discusses the power and practical usage of focus and vision. Learn the keys to creating and maintaining successful habit change by utilizing visioning, goal setting, and clarifying positive outcomes.


Listen Now

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The best time to do a GTD Weekly Review Fri, 30 Dec 2016 19:31:27 +0000 The strength of GTD awareness and ability is knowing that the best time to do a GTD Weekly Review is when you least feel like doing it. The strange force that seems to make these simple but powerful habits so challenging is that we think we need to have the result of the behavior, before we can engage in the behavior.

We feel we need to be in control before we can plan, we need to be organized before we can get organized, and we need to know what’s going on before we can sit down to figure out what’s going on. Strange, aren’t we?

–David Allen



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Dealing with surprises elegantly and objectively Fri, 23 Dec 2016 17:35:19 +0000 Surprises happen when you least expect them. But it is much easier to deal with them – accept, integrate, and refocus – when your backlog is minimal. The GTD Weekly Review ensures that you never get too far behind. When new opportunities and challenges appear, they can be dealt with more objectively and elegantly, knowing much more clearly the field within which they must be evaluated. –David Allen

Could you use a Weekly Review tune-up? Listen to our Guided Weekly Review podcast, led by senior coach Meg Edwards. Or, if you really want to change your GTD game, consider Virtual Workflow Coaching.


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There are no problems… Thu, 22 Dec 2016 16:56:47 +0000



















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Should I separate personal and professional? Wed, 14 Dec 2016 16:58:50 +0000 Question: I’ve recently implemented GTD in my life and it has helped immensely, but I can’t bring myself to mix work and personal lists. My question is…is it really necessary to mix personal and work lists? I don’t want to think of work while I’m outside of work! (And I don’t, for the record, as a rule.)

Coach Julie Ireland: This question comes up frequently during coaching sessions, so you’re not alone! We don’t necessarily recommend trying to keep a clear point of demarcation between our personal lives and work lives because for most people, that line isn’t feasible — e.g., when we’re at work, we’re thinking about our kids; and when we’re at home, we’re thinking about the meeting we’re going to the next day. As David Allen has stated many times, it’s more about “what’s next?” Having said that, due to certain companies’ security regulations, some people are simply not permitted to keep anything personal on their work computers, so they are forced to maintain dual systems.

The bottom line is that how you want to work/use your lists truly is a personal preference, and it has to resonate with you. For example, I learned a long time ago that my preference is to keep 2 @computer lists — @computer-work, and @computer-Julie. I found that during the day, when I’m at work, I don’t really want to sort through my personal stuff while I’m in “work” mode. My @computer-Julie list is really more for fun activities that I prefer to do in the evenings, after “work” hours, so it’s helpful for me to keep the lists separate.

There really isn’t a right or wrong here. I recommend giving yourself permission to implement GTD into your life in ways that work best for YOU.

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In praise of the last minute Wed, 07 Dec 2016 20:06:29 +0000 I’m going to share some good news with you: The last minute is not always the worst time to do something.

A client once shared that there are times when he actually likes to wait to the last minute—his work is better then. It’s more focused, more creative, and more inspired, because of the time constraint he has allowed himself to get into.

I had to acknowledge that I think he’s right, and there are times that works for me as well.

The best example I have of that is packing for a trip. I have scrupulously timed myself over the years, and after thousands of business trips out of town, I can safely declare that I need exactly 30 minutes to pack. No less…and no more! I figure out when I need to be comfortably at the gate of the airport, back up to when I need to walk out the door of my house to comfortably get there then, and I wait to start packing exactly 30 minutes before then.

Why would a “guru of personal productivity” like me put myself under that pressure, you ask? It’s simple. If I gave myself more time to pack, I would take it, packing. Actually, not packing—deciding what to pack. Should I take a casual sweater? Two pairs of dress shoes, or one? Will I get time to jog on this trip, and how cold might it get? How about a swimsuit? Though I almost never actually get into the large chlorine-filled thimbles known as hotel pools, I always hate it when I can’t, because I didn’t bring my swimsuit. Etc., etc. ad nauseam. And if I give myself twice as long to pack, I don’t wind up packing twice as well. Maybe 3% better. But the double stress I put myself through is not worth it.

There are situations in business and political arenas, too, when the most strategic thing to do is to wait as absolutely long as possible before launching a product or a campaign. Whatever might happen in the world up until the “last minute” might be mission-critical to absorb into the plans and tactics.

So, the last minute has its place. But to move it from the category of sloth, indolence, and at least minor stupidity to one of elegantly planned and coordinated high-performance behavior requires two things:
(1) Know how many minutes the last minute takes
(2) Make it absolutely fine with yourself as a conscious choice, so some part of you on either end of it is not sucking your energy with the “yeah, but you know you really shouldn’t…”

[For the record: Over the years I have mastered indulging in sloth, indolence, and minor stupidity. That’s how I know this stuff!]

–David Allen

This essay appeared in David Allen’s Productive Living Newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

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Your favorite software tool tailored for GTD Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:10:46 +0000 If you’re looking for tips, tricks, and coaching from the experts on using GTD with your favorite software tool, check out our GTD Setup Guides.

We currently have GTD guides for these tools:

Microsoft Outlook for Windows
Microsoft Outlook for Mac
Microsoft OneNote for Windows
Evernote for Windows
Evernote for Mac
OmniFocus for Mac
Wunderlist for Mac or Windows
Google Apps for Desktop
Google Apps for Android

See samples and download Guides here:

Not seeing your favorite tool? Leave a comment with your vote for what tool you’d like to see a GTD Setup Guide for. Thanks!



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