Productive Living
David Allen

Hi Everyone!

A common misconception about GTD® is that it's just a new version of old school "time management." GTD is not about time management—it's about how you manage yourself and your choices, within that time. Even those outdated approaches have the label wrong. You don't manage your time better and find more hours in the day. (Or if some of you have figured that one out and are working on a different global clock than the rest of us, let us know!) My essay this month talks about the difference between time and self management, and gives some keys on what you can do with that within the GTD framework.

We've also just released a new GTD Setup Guide for those of you on Outlook® 2010, which includes some new GTD tips and updated instructions to address changes in the 2010 version. Grab it from our online store, or GTD Connect members can download it directly from the Document Library.

All the best,



Time management is not the issue

Most everyone these days admits they could use better "time management." But the reason it has not really been addressed to any universal satisfaction is because time management isn't about managing time. If it were, just buying and using a calendar (and a good watch) would handle it.

The savvy among you will usually acknowledge that it's really self management—what we do with ourselves during the time we have.

Many people these days talk about "information management," because there's so much of it, and many consider themselves roadkill along the information superhighway. Too much information is not the problem though—if it were, we would walk into a library or do a web search and die.

So, what is time management, really? It's dealing effectively with the things we have and want to do. It's the latest industry publications sitting in a stack on our desk, about which we told ourselves we could/should/ought to do something. And the hundreds of hours of undone "stuff" sitting in most people's brains (in psychic RAM) and on their desk and on the floor of the back seat of their car.

That's why my flagship seminar is called Managing Workflow, Projects & Priorities—because that's what time management really is. It's about capturing things we collect and create, deciding what (if anything) we want to do about them, organizing the results of that knowledge work into a trusted system we can review appropriately, and making intuitive strategic and tactical choices about what to do at any point in time from our options.

It's hard to manage your workflow, projects, and priorities though, when you don't really know what they all are, or if they are still unclear. "Projects" are results that require more than one action step to get done, and they need to be defined and reviewed as stakes in the ground to keep us moving toward their goal line. And the "moving" needs to be defined ("What's the next action?"), so we can execute elegantly and intuitively when the ball is snapped, instead of continually thinking that we should be thinking about what to do.

When I ask people, "What's the next action?" on big projects they're procrastinating about, the answer is often, "Find time to...." Well, you won't ever have time to change your corporate culture, write the book, or lose weight. Until you define the very next action, you don't know how much time you really need. "Pick a date and email my assistant to set the senior team meeting about changing our culture" only takes two minutes—less time than it took to read this essay.



"There's no such thing as not enough time if you're doing what you want to do."

—Robert Half



Question: What are the key elements to having a life free of stress, even though we are overloaded with work and things to do?

Answer: Capture what has potential meaning for you; decide what, exactly, you're committed to complete and do about it; park reminders of those outcomes and actions in a trusted place; review the total inventory of those commitments regularly; evaluate all that against your commitments at all the horizons you have them. Trust your intuition about what you're doing, feeling OK about what you're NOT doing.


Question: How do we know if the way we are handling our daily activities is right or wrong? Are there symptoms or signs?

Answer: It's not a matter of right or wrong—it's simply, "Am I appropriately engaged with this, and my commitments about it?" So you only need to pay attention to what has your attention. Only things that are not on "cruise control" are grabbing your attention. So you need to decide what you need to do about them, and park the results of that thinking, especially the next action required, in an appropriate place or with an appropriate person.

GTD Tools
GTD and Outlook 2010 Setup Guide
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We encourage you to register early, as they often sell out

Join us at an upcoming GTD Mastering Workflow public seminar! Register with the code JUNE2011 to receive 10% off any upcoming public seminar*.

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

GTD seminar Alumni—looking for the next step on your journey? Join us at the GTD Managing Projects and Priorities seminar coming to Newport Beach, September 27. Additional Fall dates will be added soon!

* Register before June 30, 2011. Code may not be combined with other discounts or applied retroactively.

GTD Online


New to GTD or looking to master the fundamentals? Go through the GTD Getting Started & Refresher series, exclusively on GTD Connect. Includes audio & video with David Allen and the Coaches on the best practices of email, calendar, priorities, and more.
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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...

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