Getting Things Done - David Allen

Getting Things Done - David Allen

Video Book Summary

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Book Summary Notes

Getting Things Done

“Welcome to a gold mine of insights into strategies for how to have more energy, be more relaxed, and get a lot more accomplished with much less effort." 

"If you’re like me, you like getting things done and doing them well, and yet you also want to savor life in ways that seem increasingly elusive if not downright impossible if you’re working too hard."

"This doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. It is possible to be effectively doing while you are delightfully being, in your ordinary workaday world.”

The surface of this book..  

  • Practical advice on how to manage your attention and energy!
  • Scientifically and clinically proven tips and tactics to help you manage time and get more done..  

Looking a little deeper..

  • Methodology for giving you more peace of mind in your day to day life!
  • Specific practices that allow us to relax and step into flow more easily..

Idea Fairy Repellant

“It’s possible for a person to have an overwhelming number of things to do and still function productively with a clear head and a positive sense of relaxed control." 

"That’s a great way to live and work, at elevated levels of effectiveness and efficiency. It’s also becoming a critical operational style required of successful and high-performing professionals."

"You already know how to do everything necessary to achieve this high-performance state. If you’re like most people, however, you need to apply these skills in a more timely, complete, and systematic way so you can get on top of it all instead of feeling buried.”

There is more on our plates than there ever has been before..  

This is great because we have access to so many fulfilling and engaging things to do!

  • The possibilities of life and work are now more than ever open to ones own imagination..
  • Allowing people to live a life that is true to their own desires..

However we would be missing the full picture if we didn't acknowledge how difficult that makes things..

  • Having so many options can lead to distraction, procrastination and stagnation if we're not careful!
  • That's why it's so imperative that we have a system in place to keep us focused on the task at hand..  While also allowing for our imagination to run!

Clients of mine often get distracted by something I call the idea fairy!

  • Anytime you should be focused and dedicated to a specific pursuit a wonderful new idea will come up!
  • Which is amazing!  The brain is an idea factory and it's doing it's job..  Just not at the right time!
  • The GTD system is how I help them reconcile this  'problem' or mis-timed ideas!

Perfect Readiness

“In karate there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water.” Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally and appropriately to the force and mass of the input, then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact."

"The power of a karate punch comes from speed, not muscle; it comes from a focused “pop” at the end of the whip. That’s why petite people can learn to break boards and bricks with their hands: it doesn’t take calluses or brute strength, just the ability to generate a focused thrust with speed." 

"But a tense muscle is a slow one. So the high levels of training in the martial arts teach and demand balance and relaxation as much as anything else. Clearing the mind and being flexible are key.”

Cultivating a flow state requires us to be relaxed..

Flow states happen easily in things like

  • Sports
  • Video Games
  • Hiking and Thinking

Why does this happen?

  • Partly because there is no tension in these scenarios..
  • Cultivating a calm mind.  With minimal distraction is what it takes to get into a flow state easily and repeatedly..  

This is truly the heart of the GTD system..

  • Cultivating a calm, adventurous and less tense state of mind!
  • The systems below ONLY aim to help you with that.. 
  • Don't fall into the trap of sticking too much rigidity on these system because that isn't their objective!

The New System

“The methods I present here are all based on two key objectives: (1) capturing all the things that need to get done—now, later, someday, big, little, or in between—into a logical and trusted system outside your head and off your mind; and (2) disciplining yourself to make front-end decisions about all of the “inputs” you let into your life so that you will always have a plan for “next actions” that you can implement or renegotiate at any moment.”

“Most people walk around with their RAM bursting at the seams. They’re constantly distracted, their focus disturbed by their own internal mental overload.”

“What’s the next action? This is the critical question for everything you’ve collected; if you answer it appropriately, you’ll have the key substantive thing to organize. The “next action” is the next physical, visible activity that needs to be engaged in, in order to move the current reality toward completion.”

The GTD system is comprised of two Key Objectives..

Capture: this is the part we talked about before..  The things your mind jumps to when it tries to procrastinate .

  1. Ideas
  2. To Do's
  3. Commitments
  4. Other projects

The brain's main objective is to remember things you deem as important..  Which is why these things keep popping up!  They are important.

But of course this interruption interrupts our flow state and makes our work less effective..  

So we need to create a system to convince our brain we won't forget important information!

That's the capture system..  

Write down everything that pops into your brain at any time and put it into your 'inbox'..

Couple tips from my life

I like to use Trello for this so I always have it with me no matter where I am..  

It's also important to schedule time on the calendar to empty this inbox or your mind won't stop reminding you..

Next Actions: After you've collected the information it's helpful to turn it into next actions..  

Instead of 'Make The Next Mind Map':

  1. Make The Next Mind Map'
  2. Next Action: Pick The Next Book
  3. Read The Book
  4. Start The Mind Map
  5. Fill In The Map
  6. Shoot The Video 
  7. Edit and Upload

This helps us stave off procrastination by making 'large' tasks seem smaller and giving us momentum!

Two Minute Drill

“If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it is defined.”

How many things do you have on your to do list like this:

'Call Susy about Y'

Send Email to Tim 

These are 'two minute actions' that as David says don't deserve to go into your inbox..  

Just do them right away!  Get them off your mind..

This is a big concept for me..  Get things done as they come up if you can.. 

Don't let the list get out of control with small actions!

Inbox Zero

“It requires much less energy to maintain e-mail at a zero base than at a thousand base.”

This was one of the best things I've ever done to help quite my mind.. 

Here is how I do it..  

Two Folders:

One For End Of Day

Schedule Time in my Calendar (30 Mins) to get everything in this folder done by end of day

Other For End of Week

Schedule Time in my Calendar (2 Hours) to get everything in this folder done by end of day Friday

Actions on Inbox

  • Not Important = Deleted
  • Finished = Archived
  • Two Minute Action = Done Right Away
  • Needs Action Today = Today + Unread
  • Needs Action This Week = This Week + Unread
  • Full Project Idea = GTD Inbox + Calendar if Necessary 

Mini GTD

“You can try it for yourself right now if you like. Choose one project that is new or stuck or that could simply use some improvement." 

"Think of your purpose. Think of what a successful outcome would look like: where would you be physically, financially, in terms of reputation, or whatever?" 

"Brainstorm potential steps. Organize your ideas. Decide on next actions. Are you any clearer about where you want to go and how to get there?”

Let's do these steps together right now!  Grab some paper..

What is a project that's new, stuck or could use some GTD?

Now let's think about the purpose of the project..

What does a successful outcome look like?

Let's now list some potential next steps..

Time to organize!  What is the next step that makes the most sense?

Final step..  Let's put the rest of the steps in their local order!  Then schedule some time to get started.

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