“How to Get Things Done” by David Allen

david allen

Kristie Wright recently interviewed David Allen about his best seller “How to Get Things Done”. The topic of the book is the art of stress-free productivity.

David Allen is a productivity consultant who is best known as the creator of the “Time Management” method known as “Getting things Done” (GDP).

 

At some point everybody has felt confused and overwhelmed by too many ideas. Allen discusses how to approach these ideas in such a way as to make them work for you.

Kristie Wright: “How can we get more control and focus on our tasks?”

David Allen: “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

The main strategy put forward in Allen’s book is getting things on to paper instead of keeping them in your head. Write a list, take your ideas out of your mind and build an action plan. First, have a look at the things that have to wait. Decide about what you are NOT working on today. To increase your productivity you don’t need more time, you need more space. It takes one second to find the right idea but you don’t have unlimited psychic room in your head to focus on everything. If you want to be sustainable and avoid burn-out, empty your mind. If you want to maximize your performance, an empty head is exactly what you want. Clear your head of all the duties you have in your personal and private life. The whole idea is to be able to walk away from everything and to say it is okay where it is right now.

To help empty your mind, take a 20 minute nap after lunch. It will boost your energy better than a cup of coffee. Think about what you need to do today, but try to keep it as simple as possible. Make a mental map of your tasks and ideas. When you have pictured the map of your ideas ask yourself: what actions must I take to further these ideas of projects? Most everybody knows what to do once your thoughts are organized.

The idea of the “Waiting-for List”

The “waiting-for list” is the list of tasks that cannot be done without the action of someone else, meaning you must wait for another person to act before proceeding with the task yourself. It concerns all situations where the resolution is out of your control : you order something on the web and it has not shown up yet, you delegate a whole project to a coworker, or other small things that need to happen before you can proceed. Keeping track of people your expect action from can be stressful because you are not in control. You have to get a system to track these actions. Thanks to your list of “Waiting-for” you will not get surprised once the task you delegated comes back to you.

To get organized is one component but it is not the key. Some people need to be disorganized. Don’t worry about prioritizing your tasks in chronological order; just get it down on a list. You may find list-making tiresome, but if you don’t get it down on paper, it will come back constantly to your mind. Trick yourself, get it out of your head and come back to it when you’re ready.

 

David Allen’s Five Simple Steps to Apply Order to Chaos

01 – CAPTURE Collect what has your attention

Use an in-basket, notepad or voice recorder to capture 100% of everything that has your attention. Little, big, personal and professional, all your to-do’s, projects, things to handle or finish.

02 – CLARIFY Process what it means

If yes, decide the very next action required. If it will take less than two minutes, do it now. If not, delegate it if you can; or put it on your next action list to do when you can. Take everything that you capture and ask: is it actionable? If no then delete it or file it as reference.

03 – ORGANIZE Put it where it belongs

Put action reminders on the right lists. For example: create lists for the appropriate categories, calls to make, errands to run, emails to send etc…

04 – REFLECT Review Frequently

Look over your lists as often as necessary to determine what to do next. Do a weekly review to clean up, update your lists, and clear your mind.

05 – ENGAGE Simply do it

Use your system to take appropriate actions with confidence.

 

This article was written based on the Entreleadership Podcast Episode 66 of the 24th of February 2014.

If you’re interested in using a free program to organize your tasks and ideas on lists. We recommend you to visit the website: www.workflowy.com

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