Productive Living
David Allen

Hi Folks,

Is there anything in your world you need to declare "done" but haven't yet?

I'll take a deeper look at completing the past to prepare for the future in a public webinar I'm doing in January on Creating Wild Success in 2013. We'd love to have you join us online for that.

Until then, my essay this month should give you some good direction about going back to those things you need to unhook from and how to be complete with that.

All the best,




We've got to learn to declare things DONE. Especially when they're not. Not completed, that is, to the level of perfection or result that we initially visualized or committed to.

The world changes, and our creative focus along with it. So do our standards. We will always maintain some inventory or backlog of projects to complete, of things to do. But if we're not careful and take responsibility for unhooking from those that have outlived their seat on our active list, they can easily constipate our creative process.

I have spent more hours than I can count holding a focus for people while they purged tons of undone, incomplete "stuff" lying around their life. And one of the most difficult exercises for teams is their "disengagement" strategy—what do we need to stop doing, in order to stay focused on what we have to accomplish? And how long did it take me to realize that I no longer am a 33"-waisted person???!!! And that I don't like jeans that are too tight????!!!!! (Some standards change in spite of ourselves!)

Maybe this difficulty with letting go of things that we have outgrown stems from the admonition so many of us grew up with to "finish everything on your plate before you get dessert!" Maybe it's because of our proclivity to attach to materiality. Maybe it's just psychic entropy.

In any case, it's wise to maintain a "Someday Maybe" list very close to your "Projects" list, so it is easy to slide things from the latter to the former, to relieve the pressure of the undone. It's smart to "library" all of your books but the one you're reading right now. And valuable to purge your closets and drawers at least every season, knowing where the local clothing donation drop is, along the route of your regular errands.

It's a lot more comfortable living life with an inventory of things that fit.



The only man who can't change his mind is the one who hasn't got one.—Edward Noyes Wescott



Question: How do I get people around me to do GTD®?

David's answer: It's really about: How do we effectively communicate? How do we not have to have ambiguous non-decisions made about stuff? So, if nothing else, make sure you have your own GTD system in practice and let everybody else know how to engage with it.

For example, a simple one to implement is letting everybody know where your in-tray is on your desk for new input. And if they have something you need to see, and you're not around, that's exactly where it goes—nowhere else. In other words, don't let them use anything else, like putting sticky notes on your computer screen, or notes on your chair, or whatever else people do. You can also train them to stop interrupting you when they have something they need to give you. If they trust you'll see it in that designated in-tray (because you're emptying it regularly and tracking your commitments from what you process), they start to use it instead of yanking on you to make sure you "see" what they want to make sure you see.

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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.

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