David Allen’s Food For Thought – December 2014

I’m a time management heretic!


I’ve lately realized that I am teaching a paradoxical and totally reversed paradigm about time management.

The old model seems to have been telling us to externalize the big stuff (priorities) and to leave the little things strewn around internally (in psychic RAM.) We were supposed to write our Daily To-Do lists (your Top Ten Things to Do–work on Job One until it’s done, then go on to Job Two.) We were supposed to categorize on our lists the A-B-C priorities, and work on the A’s first. And oh, the little not-so-critical thoughts and details–who cares?

I’ve turned that on its head. I coach that we need to externalize the details  and internalize the prioritizing. We need to have an objectively captured Total Life To-Do List, from the biggest-picture bullet points to the tiniest of details of things we need or want to do. And then make moment-to-moment decisions about what to be doing at any point in time, based on our internal intuition.

We need to galvanize that intuitive process, with regular visits to our inner knowing and our outer longer-horizon goals and dreams. But then we ought to stay infinitely flexible and spontaneous in our minute-to-minute choices.

It’s a paradox–the little things in life need to be captured, processed, and organized, so they don’t bother us. The big things need to be given to the more inner and reflective part of who we are, to ensure that they actually get the weight they deserve.

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