David Allen refers to your day-to-day Calendar and Action choices as the “Runway.” In the Horizons of Focus model, covered in Getting Things Done and more extensively in Making It All Work, it’s the ground floor:
- 50,000 – Purpose
- 40,000 – Vision
- 30,000 – Goals
- 20,000 – Responsibilities
- 10,000 – Projects
- Runway – Calendar & Actions
We got a letter from Mike who has been reading the Getting Things Done book and shared his experience with us of what David’s means by “keeping the runway clear.”
A few years ago, I took some classes in New York. A guy came in who had just finished a book on The Beatles–Bob Spitz. He talked to the class for maybe an hour or so about his writing. He managed a big name rock star band then wrote for Rolling Stone. One of the things that has stuck with me, these past few years, is that he said that he always needed the house to be clean before he could write. He said he’d Spic-n-Span the whole house/apartment/condo (whatever he had) before he’d write a word.
This comes to mind today because Chapter 9 goes back to the basics. David mentions Chapter 2 at least a couple times, so this is a “don’t forget” chapter. Specifically: don’t forget to keep the runway clear. For Bob, his runway was having nothing in his writing area that he could possibly construe as out of place. In fact, I’ve heard about a lot of writers that need everything clean before they write. At first, I thought the writer was always Bob, but it turns out that tidiness is an important state that keeps a lot of people from distraction.
I did my own cleaning today. I did in just a couple hours, what I haven’t been able to do in the past month: clear out all the junk from my ski trip and clearing a spot in the basement to write. I focused first on the end result; I need a clean area to write. Then I thought about what that clean area would be like. I decided that I needed a table, chair, and a computer. Moving my desktop seemed like a serious hassle, so I decided that my laptop would do fine. Once I knew what I wanted, it was easy to push aside what I didn’t need and set up a nice writing area.