Getting Things Done® Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:58:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How complete is your inventory? Mon, 20 Mar 2017 20:28:08 +0000



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Advice for perfectionists Tue, 14 Mar 2017 20:43:35 +0000 Question: Do you have any GTD pointers for perfectionists? 

David Allen: Just focus on doing the next action perfectly, which is a lot easier than trying to be perfect about how you approach something bigger. Be as retentive as you want. The only problem is when it stops action. Be a perfectionist about the process, which will require, of course, making decisions on the front end that might not be perfect. Think about what might go wrong if you avoid decisions and action! (If you need a negative motivator.)




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A Tense Muscle is a Slow One Wed, 08 Mar 2017 17:40:13 +0000 A tense muscle is a slow one. This is a physiological and demonstrable fact in the martial arts. Could this be true in other aspects of our lives?

In karate, the power that can be generated by a punch is primarily due to speed, not muscle. It is the snap at the end of the whip. That is why petite people can learn to break boards and bricks with their hands—it’s not really about callouses, it’s more about the ability to generate that pop at the end of the thrust.

But a tense muscle is a slow one. So the high levels of training in the martial arts are about relaxation and balance, because that allows the flexibility and response-ability required to mobilize maximum resources at maximum speed for maximum results.

If I were sparring with you, I’d like nothing better than for you to be uptight and tense and over- or under-react to me. That’s called a “fake.” If that happens, I can control you. Your kids know that. So does a business adversary. People will unconsciously find your weak spots and use them to cause you to inappropriately respond and “lose.”

Not talking about six-beers-in-front-of-the-TV kind of relaxed. Rather, the most resourceful state of mind required when four people jump you in a dark alley, or you have to have That Serious Conversation with your son, or you have to fire someone.

To cleanly and clearly focus, 100%, with all your conscious and unconscious resources available for the task or expression at hand—that is the optimal “ready state.” It produces your ability to deal with surprise—elegantly, efficiently, and effectively. It will be your competitive edge. It is powerful.

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


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Choosing a GTD system Thu, 02 Mar 2017 16:55:58 +0000 Q: How should I choose which system to use (digital vs. paper) for GTD?todolist

David Allen: Pay attention to your intuition, or just simply: What do you feel like using as a system? We’ve discovered people tend to resist the GTD® implementation process enough as it is, so you need all the help you can get to be motivated to work the system. If you know you’d like to be digital, don’t waste time on a paper system. But if you like the look and touch and feel of a cool notebook, go for it. No system works unless you work it.




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Get help installing GTD Sat, 25 Feb 2017 18:17:15 +0000 If you’re looking for a step-by-step manual for getting your GTD system up and running, our Installation Guide is a fantastic resource. The guide includes:

  • Getting Started: Setting Up the Time, Space, and Tools
  • Collecting: Corralling Your “Stuff”
  • Processing: Getting “In” to Empty
  • Organizing: Setting Up the Right Buckets
  • Reflecting: Keeping Your System Functional
  • Doing: Making the Best Action Choices
  • Articles by David Allen
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Available in letter or A4 sizes




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What does it mean to be organized? Wed, 22 Feb 2017 21:02:57 +0000 What does it mean to be organized? It used to be the definition was clean and neat. You know the offices–you walk in the door and it looks likes no one works there. The desk has nothing on it, except for a cool object and a photo. Is this what being organized really means?

My answer is we need to update our definition of what the term organized means. We still think in terms of clean and neat. Most of us have some old unconscious wiring when it comes to thinking about organization. If you go digging, someone in there made it up that good, smart people are organized and the sloppy stupid people are disorganized. So we all want to be in the first group, but how do we get there?

Now I am really speaking from experience here because years ago I was searching for some answers. I only found the results I was after when I learned how to think in a new way, when I learned the Getting Things Done® methodology. Trust me, I have I tried it all.

Tell me if any of the thinking below rings a bell for you?

Myth: If we just get the files set up then we will be organized.
Reality: I tried this solution on more than one occasion myself, and I have seen people try this on as a solution on more than one continent. My personal and professional experience is that the beautiful color coded files don’t stay that way for long without a new way of thinking about reference materials.

Myth: There is just too much to do; let’s hire more administrative staff.
Reality: Great admin staff are worth their weight in gold, and all the support in the world will not manage your workflow. Personally I tried this solution on as well, the results were that I created more work for myself and still was stressed. I still felt like the Pig Pen character in the Peanuts cartoon.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am the biggest fan in the world of great administrative staff, and professional organizers are great when you need assistance with a special clean out project. None of the above though will assist you to think differently about your stuff or to learn to define what you want in your life and how to get there more elegantly.

So let’s redefine the conversation, shall we?

How your space looks says very little about your ability to get things done.

The real issue is not how your home or office looks, but how we all think about our workflow either at home or at work. This is the paradigm shift that is so radical, it is not about our outer environment, it is about our inner environment. The new conversation is about how we learn the methodology about the art of work. It is an educational process that takes time and energy to learn, just like learning any language.

Hopefully most of us would not wake up and judge ourselves for not speaking say Italian? (Pick any language here that you don’t speak. I personally would love to speak Italian.) Most of us accept that to learn a language you need time, dedication and energy. Learning the art of work for most of us is like learning a new language. Here is the good news: learning a language can be fun.

We also wouldn’t expect that if you know Italian you should be able to speak Chinese. Learning the art of work is distinct from having learned the skills to do your work. Most knowledge workers have spent years learning their profession, yet there is still the old thinking that they should instantly know the art of work. This is simply part of what I call Old think.

If you are looking for peace of mind, then learning how to think differently about your work is the key. Yes, the result is often a cleaner and more organized environment; this is only a nice byproduct of learning to think differently.

One day I hope that this conversation will not even be necessary. We are being frequently approached to teach the GTD® process from the grade school to the university level. The word is clearly spreading that there is a new way to think about yourself, your work and the art of work. So treat yourself to greater peace of mind, learn the GTD process, and relax and go have some fun.

–Marian Bateman, Certified Coach


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Episode #27: GTD Keys to Clarifying Tue, 21 Feb 2017 18:30:12 +0000 In this speech excerpt, David Allen shares the GTD® keys to clarifying your work.

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GTD and Attention Tue, 14 Feb 2017 20:53:37 +0000 GTD



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Managing your projects with GTD Thu, 09 Feb 2017 17:40:55 +0000 How well are you managing your projects? In the GTD Managing Projects audio program, David Allen and his senior staff share the GTD best practices and models for seamlessly managing your projects. Bonus materials include a rich set of PDF handouts and the GTD Live recording of David leading you through the Natural Planning Model®. 5 hours of audio. MP3 or CD Set.

managing projects


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Why things don’t get done Tue, 07 Feb 2017 21:55:48 +0000 In the work I do, I often see a dark side to organizations and relationships that have collaboration and being nice as values. It can easily become a smokescreen behind which people avoid accountability and clarity.

I have noticed a tendency for people to spend a lot of time in high-energy meetings and discussions, and a high resistance at the end of those meetings and discussions to clarify—“Do I have the next action on this, or do you?” or “Whose is this now, to make happen?”

This lack of declaring an owner for the action, outcome, or area of focus is why at home many couples and families have huge stacks of papers and “stuff” on the counter between the kitchen and the dining room, by the phone, and in the front hall, and why a lot of personal projects are “stuck.” No in-trays. No immediate physical, visible distinction as to who actually has the next action or decision about this bill, this brochure, this note from the teacher. Everybody sort of feels responsible for it, but no one really owns it. So it doesn’t happen.

It is fascinating that whenever two or more are responsible for something, usually nobody is.

Managers, executives, and parents would all love to have staff and their teams and their families all work together in harmonious flow toward the group goals, with everyone keeping their eye on everything that needs doing, and making sure it gets done. But if responsibility has not been allocated to one person for a particular outcome, the responsibility travels up the ladder until it lands with the one someone who will have to make it happen. That is usually why small companies moving from mom-pop to senior team management often have stress at the top—learning how to effectively chunk off definable areas of responsibility so the owners can stop getting nickel-and-dime’d with details from below.

The exception to this is the rare occasion when literally all the players are equally and independently committed to making something happen, whether anyone else does it or not. This I’ll-do-it-if-it-needs-doing-and-nobody-else-is-doing-it mentality is seen from time to time in small combat teams, highly charged athletic teams, and occasionally project teams super-galvanized to dynamic successful (or survival) outcomes.

There needs to be at least one person who has accountability by assignation or default for bringing something to the finish line. Being nice and not deciding who it is, is not really nice at all.

–David Allen

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

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