Productive Living
David Allen

Hi Everyone!

If you're like most people who've begun the implementation of the GTD® methods, you've had some starts and stops in your journey. While my approach is really nothing more than advanced common sense, doing these practices consistently requires some re-grooving of your behavioral patterns. And some of those, though not optimally productive, are likely deeply rooted. How does "doing GTD" become second nature—something you live by but rarely even think about?

All the best,



Getting GTD onto cruise control

Invariably when I connect back in with someone after they've been educated about GTD, they have a serious mea culpa—"you know, I really haven't implemented as much of this as I should..." It's double deadly because what we have taught them is so simple, basic, and common-sense grounded that it seems pretty silly that they haven't fully done it yet.

Here are the stages of acquiring new skills, and how they relate to learning Getting Things Done®:

1. Unconscious incompetence. I don't know what I don't know about what I don't know that I could know. Or, I know something is wrong, but I'm not sure what it is, and what I'm doing or not doing that's causing it. 98% of the people I relate with feel somewhat embarrassed about their "productivity" skills and systems, but they don't know what exactly to change or how to change it.

2. Conscious incompetence. I know exactly what I should be doing, but I'm not doing it. I know that I need to externalize and capture and clarify and review my commitments, but I haven't changed my habits yet of keeping them in psychic RAM and continually avoiding next action decisions.

3. Conscious competence. I know what to do and I'm doing it, but I'm really needing to stay focused and "get" myself to do it regularly. I am still thinking about the process so that I do the process.

4. Unconscious competence. I'm free to be on to bigger things. I'm just using the process to focus, but no longer having to think about the process itself.

For many, it's a monumental change in itself just to have the game finally defined, along with awareness of the track to get there. Knowing that there is a way and an approach that will get you in control and focused will, to some extent, create relaxation for your mind, even if you haven't fully put that plan into practice.

But feeling better with some understanding of GTD doesn't make it automatic, nor will it replace the true "mind like water" experience that results from its steady and consistent application. It's practice, practice, practice. The new patterns, mentally and physically, need to be ingrained at a deeper level to really be on cruise control. People often remark to me that "GTD does take a lot of discipline!" Actually, it doesn't, any more than taking showers and brushing your teeth require discipline, once the initial unfamiliarity has been overcome. How long does it take to get there? As long as it takes. You'll be another day older tomorrow, no matter what. So just keep returning, when you stray. Write things down. Decide outcomes and actions. Organize and review them. And you'll feel more and more uncomfortable when you don't.



"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

-Calvin Coolidge
GTD Tools
David Allen Collection: Standing File Rack File Folders File Folders
GTD Events


Join us at an upcoming GTD Mastering Workflow public seminar. Register with code APR2011 to receive 10% off any upcoming public seminar*.

For an inspiring and exciting day, led by David Allen himself, attend GTD Making It All Work. Coming to:

* Register before April 25, 2011. Discount may not be combined with other discounts or applied retroactively.

GTD Online


Webinar: Inside a GTD Coach's System—April 19 @ 11am PDT

Article: Best & worst practices of mastering workflow

Forums: Take the Weekly Review Challenge

Login to or sign up for our free guest pass to register for webinars or view members-only content.

GTD Community


A staff member asks, "Is your desk getting in your way?"

One of our coaches talks about keys for effective delegation.

A community member shares about inbox processing for kids.


Take advantage of some of the terrific free resources we offer to stay connected:

Follow David Allen

Follow David Allen

Free Podcasts






GTD® is the popular shorthand for "Getting Things Done®", the groundbreaking work-life management system and book by David Allen that transforms personal overwhelm and overload into an integrated system of stress-free productivity. Read more...

GTD®, Getting Things Done®, and GTD Connect® are registered trademarks of David Allen Company.

Make it up. Make it happen.


© 2011 David Allen Company. All Rights Reserved



If you received this message directly from the David Allen Company, you are already subscribed. If you received this message as a forward and would like to subscribe, please send a blank email to, or visit:


It's free!


To unsubscribe, send an email to or visit:


We apologize for any inconvenience.


To change your address, please unsubscribe the old address and subscribe the new address using this form:



Please feel free to forward this message to friends, family, and colleagues, keeping our contact and copyright information intact.


Please visit us on the web at <>, email us at, or call 805-646-8432.

David Allen Company
407-F Bryant Circle
Ojai, CA 93023
(805) 646-8432

Make it up. Make it happen.®