Productive Living
David Allen

Hi Everyone,

Perspective is one of the most elusive and valuable commodities on the planet. It provides the antidote to what I call "the curse of the eternally urgent." I made it a big piece of my third book, Making It All Work, and have included an essay this month that takes a deeper look at this issue.

All the best,

David

DAVID'S FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The curse of the eternally urgent

Ignoring secondarily important actions and projects, because you are too busy with urgent things, fosters continual crisis management. This approach never self-corrects; it self-perpetuates. Where do fires and crises come from? Usually from not-so-urgent things that people ignore because they are distracted by the crises of the moment. The actions and projects that were ignored cause the next fires and crises.

Someone heard second hand about my "two-minute rule" (if the action on something takes less than two minutes, do it as soon as you look at or think of it) and thought it was ineffective. "I'd waste my whole day doing 2-minute things, many of which are not that important." My retort was: if they're not important enough to do, they're not important enough to do at all! You're either going to do something or you're not. If you're going to do it at all, and it takes less than two minutes, 95% of the time you'll save time and be much more proactive if you do it immediately. (Many big and important projects have a two-minute-or-less next action on them too, by the way.)

I'm not talking about ignoring priorities. I am talking about capturing, deciding, and organizing action steps about everything we have our attention on, big and little. Little, "unimportant" things too often demand much more attention later on than they deserve, and become too "important" because they weren't handled when they would have been easy. And many of them can be handled very efficiently in the little weird windows of time we get in odd situations and circumstances. My "total life to-do list," with me all the time, provides me with lots of options to optimize my productivity wherever and whenever. It creates much more smooth sailing through the mundane day-to-dayness of life. It breaks the cycle of the eternally urgent.

A crisis should be a crisis. Urgent things should be urgent. And they should be exceptional.

 

Q&A WITH DAVID

Q: What's the one thing that we do that gets in the way of us being productive?

A: It's not one thing, but five, all wrapped together: People keep stuff in their head. They don't decide what they need to do about stuff they know they need to do something about. They don't organize action reminders and support materials in functional categories. They don't maintain and review a complete and objective inventory of their commitments. Then they waste energy and burn out, allowing their busy-ness to be driven by what's latest and loudest, hoping it's the right thing to do but never feeling the relief that it is.

 

 
 
 
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3 SPECIAL OFFERS IN OCTOBER

The GTD Mastering Workflow public class will debut in Miami, Florida on October 27th. Register in the next 2 weeks to receive 15% off with the code MIAMI*

Catch David Allen's final GTD Making It All Work seminar of the year in Washington, DC on October 14th.

Calling all GTD public seminar graduates—a new public class is available to you! Check out the GTD Managing Projects and Priorities seminar. Coming to a Seattle, Los Angeles & Boston.

(* Note: this discount is only applicable to this Miami seminar, as this is a new city for us. Discounts do not apply retroactively and this offer expires October 15th.)

 
 
 
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How are you doing managing the "daily grind"? Join the October 15th webinar to get tips from the Coaches. Free to all GTD Connect members—even guest pass subscribers!

ON OUR BLOG

David Allen shares why sorting your Next Actions by context matters:

There is never a moment at which you could do everything you've decided to, simply because most of those actions require a specific tool or location. Context is also the first criterion that limits your options and keeps you from being reminded of things you simply can't do.

Read more...

 
 
 
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