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Getting things done by David Allen – Brief Remarks

Posted by Raul Barral Tamayo en Jueves, 10 de enero, 2013

Copyright © David Allen, 2001.

In today’s world, yesterday’s methods just don’t work. Veteran coach and management consultant David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to tens of thousands of people across the country.

Allen’s premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential.

From core principles to proven tricks, Getting Things Done can transform the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down. Learn how to:

  • Apply the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” rule to get your in-box to empty
  • Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations
  • Plan and unstick projects
  • Overcome feelings of confusion, anxiety, and being overwhelmed
  • Feel fine about what you’re not doing

David Allen has been called one of the world’s most influential thinkers on productivity and has been a keynote speaker and facilitator for such organizations as New York Life, the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, L.L. Bean, and the U.S. Navy. He is president of The David Allen Company and has more than twenty years experience as a management consultant and executive coach.

Book snapshots:

Comments extracted from the book, they could be right or wrong, you decide for yourself:

  • Whatever you’re doing, you’d probably like to be more relaxed, confident that whatever you’re doing at the moment is just what you need to be doing.
  • Teaching you how to be maximally efficiente and relaxed, whenever you need or want to be, was my main purpose in writing this book.
  • Everything I propose is easy to do. It involves no new skills at all.
  • Many things you’ve been doing instinctively and intuitively all along are right.
  • David Kekich: “Anxiety is cause by a lack of control, organization, preparation and action”.
  • The methods I present here are all based on two key objectives: (1) capturing all the things that need to get done and (2) disciplining yourself to make front-end decisions abotu all of the “inputs” you let in your life so that you will always have a plan for “next actions” that you can implement or renegotiate at any moment.
  • In the old days, work was self-evident. Now, for many of us, there are no edges to most of our projects.
  • There is too much distraction at the day-to-day, hour-to-hour level of commitments to allow for appropiate focus on the higher levels.
  • Ineffective personal organizational systems create huge subconscius resistance to undertaking ever bigger projects and goals that will likely not be managed well.
  • Your ability to generate power is directly propotional to your ability to relax.
  • Anything that causes you to overreact o underreact can control you, and often does.
  • Anything that does not belong where it is, the way it is, is an “open loop” pulling on your attention.
  • It it’s on your mind, your mind isn’t clear. Anything you consider unfinished in any way must be captured in a trusted system outside your mind, that you know you’ll come back to regularly and sort through.
  • You must clarify exactly what your commitment is and decide what you have to do, if anything, to make progress toward fulfilling it.
  • Write down the next physical action required to move the situation forward.
  • You can fool everyone else, but you can’t fool your own mind. Even if you’ve already decided on the next step you’ll take to resolve a problem, your mind can’t let go until and unless you write yourself a reminder in a place it knows you will, without fail, look.
  • Most of the to-do lists I have seen over the years wre merely listings of “stuff”. Incomplete lists of unclear things.
  • The key to managing all of your “stuff” is managing your actions.
  • Lack of time is not the major issue; the real problem is a lack of clarity and definition about what a project really is, and what the associated next-action steps required are.
  • The major change: getting it all out of your head.
  • The big problem is that your mind keeps reminding you of things you cant’ do anything about them. It has no sense of past of future. There’s a part of you that thinks you should be doing that something all the time. Can you get rid of that kind of stress? You bet.
  • Five-stage method for managing workflow: (1) collect things; (2) process what they mean and what to do about them; (3) organize the results, which we (4) review as options for what we choose to  (5) do.
  • The following can all serve as versions of an in-basket: physical in-basket, paper-based note-taking devices, electronic note-taking devices, voice-recording devices, e-mail.
  • To make the collection phase work: every open loop must be in your collection system and out of your head; you must have as few collection buckets as you can get by with; you must empty them regularly.
  • Leonardo da Vinci: “Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are the most active”.
  • Do It, Delegate It, or Defer It.
  • If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it is defined.
  • Daily to-do list don’t work. First, It’s virtually impossible to nail down to-do items ahead of time. Second,  if there’s something on a daily to-do list that doesn´t absolutely have to get done that day, it will dilute the emphasis on the things that truly do.
  • Albert Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.
  • “Next Actions” lists, along with the calendar, are at the heart of daily action-management organizations.
  • Any longer-than-two-minute, nondelegatable action you have identified needs to be tracked somewhere.
  • It can be useful and inspiring to maintain an ongoing list of things you might want to do at some point but not now.
  • The lack of a good general-reference file can be one of the biggest bottlenecks in impleting an efficent personal action-management system. If filing isn’t easy and fast, you’ll tend to stack things instead of filing them.
  • Review your lists as often as you need to, to get them off your mind. All lists should be reviewed once a week.
  • The basic purpose is to facilitate good choices about what you’re doing at any point in time. Four criteria: context, time available, energy available & priority.
  • Six-Level model for reviewing your own work: 50.000+feet: Life; 40.000 feet: Three to five-year vision; 30.000 feet: One to two year goals; 20.000 feet: Areas of responsability; 10.000 feet: Current projects; Runway: Current actions.
  • The key ingredients or relaxed control are 81) clearly defined outcomes (projects) and the next actions required to move them toward closure, and (2) reminders placed in a trusted system that is reviewed regularly. This is what I call horizontal focus.
  • Alvin Toffler: “You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction”.
  • The most experienced planner in the world is your brain.
  • If you’re waiting to have a good idea efore you have any ideas, you won’t have many ideas.
  • Dee Hock: “Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behaviour. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behaviour”.
  • Linus Pauling: “The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas”.
  • If the project is still on your mind, there’s more planning to do.
  • You increase your productivity and creativity exponentially when you think about the right things at the right time and have the tools to capture your value-added thinking.
  • My best trick is custome – the clothing I put on or take off.
  • You must have a focused work space – at home, at work and if possible even in transit.
  • It is critical that you have your own work space. You want to use your systems, not just think about them.
  • I strongly suggest that you maintain your own personal, at-hand filing system. It it takes you longer than a minute to complete that sequence of actions, you have a significant improvement opportunity, since you probably won’t file the document; you’ll stack it or stuff it instead.
  • Once you have all the things that require your attention gathered in one place, you’ll automatically be operating from a state of enhanced focus and control.
  • The first time you pick something up from your in-basked, decide what to do about it and where it goes. Never put it back in “in”.
  • You have three options once you decid what the next action really is. Do it (if the action takes less than two minutes). Delegate it (if you’re not the most appropiate person to do the action). Defer it into your organization as an option for work to do later.
  • The Weekly Review is whatever you need to do to get your head empty again.
  • Your best thoughts about work won’t happen while you’re at work.
  • Ultimately and always you must trust your intuition. There are many things you can do, however, that can increase that trust.
  • Six levels of work: Current actions, current projects, areas of responsability, one-to-two-year goals, three-to-five-year visions & life.
  • If you’re not totally sure what your job is, it will always feel overwhelming.
  • Don’t lose any ideas about projects that could potentially be useful. No matter at what level project ideas show up, it’s great to have good tools always close at hand for capturing them as they occur.
  • Winston Churchill: “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning”.
  • When a culture adopts “What’s the next action?” as a standard operating query, there’s an automatic increase in energy, productivity, clarity and focus.
  • Mark Twain: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one”.
  • George F. Nordenholt: “No matter how big and tough a problem may be, get rid of confusion by taking one little step toward solution. Do something”.
  • George Bernard Show: “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them”.
  • It’s all connected. You can’t really define the right action until you know the outcome, and your outcome is disconnected from reality if you’re not clear about what you need to do physically to make it happen.
  • Steven Snyder: “There are only two problems in life: (1) you know what you want, and you don’t know how to get it; and/or (2) you don’t know what you want”.

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