David Allen has spent many years figuring out how to make things happen with the least amount of effort possible.
He ended up uncovering, discovering, testing, developing, publishing and educating a methodology of how to do that.
David, a productivity consultant, is best know for creating the time management methodology “Getting Things Done” (GTD).
He wanted to help people ‘surf on top of the world, instead of being buried by it!’
He helps people develop clear space, so they can focus on what they are trying to do. Being able to focus is a key skill in developing resilience.
David discovered that the things that helped him keep clear space in a complex world, also helped others be more in control and more focused. Corporate interest in developing managers and executives catapulted David into this field, where he made his methodology bullet proof and eventually wrote a best selling book “Getting Things Done – The art of stress free productivity’.
GTD is a simple yet profound methodology that we are not born doing but have to learn and practice.
It’s about knowing what to do to get thoughts off our mind.
Knowing how to deal with all the input and rapidly make appropriate decisions to be able to park things in appropriate places, creates the necessary space in order to get space. You don’t need time – you need room.
This methodology can help people immediately. What is on your mind, what is distracting you? It’s about getting yourself as clear as you can so that you can be optimally productive.
Being ‘clear’ is a state where your mind is not over or under reacting. If you are taking one meeting into the next, or taking work home with you in the mind… that is not a clear state.
The most productive state, is when there is nothing on your mind except the thing you are doing. Being able to get rid of all of the other distractions is key. It has been scientifically proven that there is an inverse relationship between the amount that is on your mind and getting things done.
What has got your attention and why is it on your mind?
There is probably a decision about whatever is on our mind, that we have not made or we haven’t parked the results somewhere that we trust. If we can do that, it gets things off our mind. It doesn’t mean that the thought is finished but that we are appropriately engaged with it.
Here is David’s BIG secret – getting things done is not so much about getting things done, its really about getting appropriately engaged with all of our commitments in life, so that we can be fully present with whatever we are doing – like tucking the kids up in bed at night, cooking spaghetti or running a business plan. It’s about being present, having focus and managing our attention.
What are you putting your attention on and are you putting your attention on in in an appropriate way?
If we don’t deal with things appropriately the first time they will keep popping up in our minds.
Our head is for having ideas but not for holding them. We need to get things out of our heads by making the appropriate decisions and parking the results in a trusted place that we will see them at the right time. This gets us clear and this is the most productive state to operate in.
We all have to be accountable for what we do. Given the energy, the time we have, the context we are in, given all the levels of commitment we have …. When was the last time that we reviewed all of those things? Can we trust our choices?
If we try to keep more than four things in our heads that are incomplete and we still need to do something about, we end up being driven by the latest or the loudest thought and not by strategy.
David’s great strategy is to:
- Capture: Write down everything that has your attention.
- Clarify: Decide what it means and what has to be done,
- Organise: Park this thought or reminder somewhere safe so that you can pick it up again at a better time.
- Reflect: Look over your list so you trust your choices
- Engage: Take appropriate action with confidence
The question is ‘is this thought something that we are going to do something about now or not? If not, we need to park it somewhere where we can revisit it later. Put it in a system that will feed it back to us. If it is something that we need to move on then that’s great. What is our next action and what is the end goal? Now we have a project.
We are smart and sensitive and we can generate so many scenarios of how things could go wrong and all the things we need to do to make it wright… that we freak ourselves out and quit because we don’t like feeling out of control.
We just need to engage and get going!
Clarifying the outcome and action are crucial to our productivity. What are we trying to produce and how do we allocate or reallocate our attention or resources to make it happen?
These two questions actually require two different parts of the brain to work out the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. One part is visualising and the other is operationalising – that’s what makes it difficult.
Many people talk and talk and waste huge amounts of time and energy because they don’t make an action decision. We must train ourselves to think of the next action? If we had to do something about that thought… what would we do? It is the sort of decision that most people avoid like the plague!
For David there are only two problems in the world – either not knowing how to get what you want or not knowing what you want.
David has scaled his business and partnered up with a number of organisations so he can share his methodology with everybody all over the world. Why not visit his website www.gettingthingsdone.com
David’s book is open source and has been written to tell people exactly how to use his methodology. Are you willing to give it a go? You can find his latest edition here.
To listen to our full interview with David Allen listen to our podcast on our website