Getting the Right Things Done - David Allen

My notes of the Peak Work Performance Summit session with David Allen, author of the book Getting Things Done:

Five stage model about how to get your head, your world under control

  1. Capture the stuff that has your attention
  2. Clarify exactly what it means, what you're going to do with it (if anything)
  3. Organize the results in the appropriate places so that you can reflect on the entirety of your commitments
  4. Reflect on it by reviewing frequently
  5. Engage: simply do

Unloading what you have in your head and applying a thought process to clarify what these things mean to you and what you're going to do about them. Organization is creating reminders, building lists and maps so that you have the stuff you need at the moment and place you need them. It's like building an external brain.

Your brain is really good at recognizing patterns, not at reminding you at the right time of the right things.

You don't need time, you need room.

It's not just writing down what you have in your head, but writing down the actual next action you need to take. We procrastinate because we don't feel in control, we see the topic as a huge phantom, there's so much to think and plan about, and don't want to think about everything that needs to be done to handle it. Having the next physical action defined lets you take action. You need to think what the kickstarter is to get you moving.

The current times challenge everybody to become the own executive of our lives.

Get all out of your head, have a list/map of everything you have/could/would be doing, so that you can be present with all that you are doing.

Definition of Work: everything that needs to be done, that isn't done yet.

Review your system as often as you need to, to get it off your mind. Some more frequent than others (e.g. calendar several times a day). Do a weekly review of all your system, make sure all is complete and current, review past calendar to catch all the "oh, that reminds me", review the entire landscape. Two hours block, once a week. You need to block it out, otherwise interruptions continue all the time.

Regarding email: don't open, look and close it again. Then you'll have to open it up again, go "oh" and close it again. That is a huge waste of your time and energy and drain on your psyche. Learn to take quick decisions, what is it, can I file it, do I need to act on this, make good executive decisions and decide its meaning.

How to stay proactive when bombarded by opportunities to be reactive? Not such a big deal, a lot of things you've put in motion have you be reactive/responsive. The only department in the company that doesn't have fires and crisis is the fire department: they're organized for that, all they're doing is getting ready for the next surprise. You need to be able to handle all the things rapidly and efficiently to be ready for the next surprise.

You must rest, you must sleep, you must daydream in order to maximize your cognitive processes and prevent decision fatigue.

David Allen had 35 jobs by the time he was 35.

The most productive people already were the most interested in the methodology. It's because it relieves drag on your system. The people most aware of drag are the fastest people.

GTD is about creating space, and what people can do with room internally.

Take everything you have in your brain, put it down, figure out what the next action is, make some time to go over the list to make sure you're not doing busywork but actually doing work that matters.

How to get more people using this technique? You have to do it yourself first. As you start to manifest these behaviours, it has an automatic effect all around you. If you respond to all your emails within 24-48 hours, people will be embarrassed if they don't, especially if they report to you. It's not about legislating, GTD is just a business practice.

It's all common sense, but it doesn't mean it's commonly done.

Review my other notes from the Peak Work Performance Summit.