Getting Things Done – David Allen

Getting Things Done - David Allen

Why we need task management:

1. Work no longer has clear boundaries – every project could be done better, and there are vast amounts of info

2. Jobs keep changing – out organizations are amorphous, the average professional is a free agent

3. Old habits and models are insufficient

4. The big picture and nitty gritty

Dealing effectively with commitments

Open loops – anything pulling your attention that doesn’t have anything to do with what you’re trying to accomplish

Managing commitments:

1. In order to clear your mind, put commitments in a “collection bucket”

2. To make progress toward fulfilling the commitment, decide what you have to do next

3. Create reminders for yourself of what actions you must take next

In exercise:

1. “write down the project or situation that is most on your mind at this moment.”

2. “write down the very next physical action required to move the situation forward.”

In other words, what would need to happen for you to check this “project” off as “done”? Take 2 minutes to break down and make actionable items. The reason most organizing systems haven’t worked for most people is that they haven’t yet transformed all the “stuff” they’re trying to organize. As long as it’s still “stuff,” it’s not controllable. Transform this “stuff” into actionable items. Things rarely get stuck because of lack of time. They get stuck because the doing of them has not been defined.

Instead, the key to managing all of your “stuff” is managing your actions. Clearing your minds of the mundane stuff helps to unburden, and opens up avenues of vision, creativity, and thought about the future.

1. Collect – Anything that is a “should do” “need to” or “have to” is an incomplete and needs to be collected. They are open loops that must be closed. A better admonition would be, “The first time you pick something up from your in-basket, decide what to do about it and where it goes. Never put it back in “in.”

2. Process – decide if it actionable. If it is, either delegate it, do it (under 2 mins) or defer it.

3. Organize – Projects require multiple steps to be completed, and need to be broken down. But you can do steps related to it. Non-actionable items are either trash, incubation, or reference

4. Review – review all your open loops once a week Most people feel best about their work when they’ve cleaned up, closed up, clarified, and renegotiated all their agreements with themselves and others. Do this weekly instead of yearly.

5. Do – delegate or defer

The four criteria for choosing tasks in the moment:

  1. Context
  2. Time available
  3. Energy available
  4. Priority

To-do lists 1. Aren’t needed in this system b/c they divert you from management and 2. Dilute your priorities

Natural planning techniques: the Five Phases

1. Purpose – To know and to be clear about the purpose of any activity are prime directives for clarity, creative development, and cooperation.

2. Principles

3. Vision/outcome – 1. View the project from beyond the completion date.

2. Envision “WILD SUCCESS”! (Suspend “Yeah, but . . .”)

3. Capture features, aspects, qualities you imagine in place.

Brainstorming – Don’t Judge, Challenge, Evaluate, or Criticize. Go for quantity, not quality.

Put analysis and organization in the background.

Ask yourself “WHAT’S THE NEXT ACTION?” The main reason for procrastination and lack of doing is failure to break down the task into the next physical step in the process of completion

Six levels of Focus for reviewing your own work:

• 50,000+ feet: Life

• 40,000 feet: Three- to five-year visions

• 30,000 feet: One- to two-year goals

• 20,000 feet: Areas of responsibility

• 10,000 feet: Current projects

• Runway: Current actions

Management: Trying to manage from the top down, when the bottom is out of control, may be the least effective approach.

“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” – Mark Twain

The constructive evaluation of activities, asset allocations, communications, policies, and procedures against purposes and intended outcomes has become increasingly critical for every organization I know of. The challenges to our companies continue to mount, with pressures coming these days from globalization, competition, technology, shifting markets, and raised standards of performance and production