It’s a phrase that makes people feel good, one that generates confidence, accomplishment. It’s something we all want to do. However we define ‘things’, we want them finished, complete, closed, accomplished.
David Allen was a management consultant that began to see the DNA of how things got done and then developed a method, a step by step process, even an entire philosophy around personal productivity and the business of ‘getting things done’. His books continue to grow in popularity and he is now (and has been for a while) one of the most recognized names in the personal productivity arena. He basically owns the phrase due to his first book, “Getting Things Done“, and his methodology is now referred as GTD.
His second book focused more on the philosophy and principles behind the method and is a collection of short essays called “Ready for Anything“. I actually read that one first and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve also come back to that one quite a few times for re-reading and study, to help me get back on track.
His latest book, just recently released, “Making it All Work” is supposed to provide new perspectives and help you reach new levels of productivity. I haven’t read it yet, but probably will at some point.
His core premise is that one’s ability to be productive is directly proportional to one’s ability to relax. He uses the “mind like water” analogy where water responds with total appropriateness to a pebble being thrown in it. It doesn’t overreact or underreact, it simply interacts with whatever comes to it and returns to its natural state.
He defines 4 main areas of productive behavior:
- Capturing and corralling all our internal and external “open loops” to regain clarity and energy.
- Consciously managing our focus within the multiple levels of outcomes and responsibilities to which we are committed.
- Creating trusted structures and consistent usage of them to trigger the appropriate focus and reminders as necessary.
- Grounding it all with flexible, forward motion at the physical-action level.
People don’t need more discipline as such – they need a more discipined approach. It’s not about working harder or getting your priorites straight, it’s about defining your work better at multiple levels of detail and staying focused on all of them simultaneously.
I highly recommend investgating David Allen’s work. I have not mastered his method perfectly yet, but his concepts help me to understand all the things I have to do in a different way, and therefore helps reduce my stress.