Productive Living
David Allen

Hi Folks,

Using the GTD models for addressing situations and projects in a direct and focused way had been a big "sleeper" in our methods. A lack of focus on the very operational level of "projects" is perhaps the biggest gap in most people's behavior relative to their productivity. And the Natural Planning Model, identified in my first book, holds a real key for gaining both control and perspective on specific circumstances in our day-to-day world. We've compiled all of the GTD best practices and common questions into our new audio set, GTD Managing Projects. Now that many of you are getting more and more "mind like water," it's time to pick up the banner and use that additional psychic space for creative, innovative, and strategic thinking.

All the best,



The task of "defining our work..."

More and more these days I find that people in my seminars are resonating to the importance of defining our work. The challenge many of us face is to not only track, but accurately label all of our projects, and hang on to those "stakes in the ground" while the rest of the world seems to want to blow us away from them like we're in a hurricane.

How many of you don't have time to do your work, because you have so much work to do??!!

How many of you, in your jobs, are only doing what you were hired to do? (I never get one affirmative response in any group I query!)

I credit the late Peter Drucker for framing this issue better than anyone, from the macro perspective. He indicates that whereas fifty years ago 80% of our work force made its living by making or moving things, that number is now less than 20%. And that "knowledge work" demands a completely different paradigm of focus than we have been trained in as a professional culture.

The good news about making or moving something is that when you come to work, un-made and un-moved things make it real easy to know how to spend your day. You do not need "personal organization" other than the work that is obviously and visibly at hand. The bad news is that these days only a small percentage of us get to work and know what to do. The rest of us have to make it up. And very few (if any) of the people we interact with seem to be supporting our agenda.

So, it becomes critical for each of us to maintain a complete and accurately defined list of Projects, and to ensure that we review these at least weekly with real sincerity of focus, creating and capturing all the "oh yeah, that reminds me, I need to..." kind of next actions that need to happen to make our "work" happen.

This needs to include all the professional and personal projects about which you would like ideally for something to be happening during the course of an operational week. "R&D new camera", "Finalize budget implementation", "Refinance house", "Reorganize office", etc.

We were only trained and equipped in our culture to show up, and deal with the work at hand. We now have to train and equip ourselves, create our own targets and goal-lines, and tie safety ropes onto those outcomes to keep steady in our course against the winds of the world.


Take 5 minutes to make progress on a project

If you take a pen and blank paper, and just spend the next five minutes capturing ideas on the most important project right now for you to make some progress on, you will likely come up with at least one, if not several, "Oh yeah, I could..." items.


"The typical project goes through 6 phases:

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Disillusionment
  3. Panic
  4. Search for the Guilty
  5. Punishment of the innocent
  6. Praise and honor to the non-participants"


"There is a wonderful reason that explains why human beings have developed two different minds. it is because in the whole world there are really only two problems. I've always found that to be a comforting thought, only two problems in the whole world. One problem is, "you know what you want but you don't know how to get it", and the only other problem is, "you don't know what you want."

-Steven Snyder


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