It’s Monday again and it’s time to start the week with a good energy!
Monday Productive is a weekly interview format, featuring peak-performers from my network, who share 5 ideas on how to boost your productivity and stay at the top of your game.
Today’s guest is David Allen. David is one of the world’s most influential thinkers on productivity, and his 35 years of experience as a management consultant and executive coach have earned him the titles of personal productivity guru by Fast Company, one of America’s top five executive coaches by Forbes, and among The American Management Association’s top 10 business leaders.
David’s bestselling book, the groundbreaking Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, has been published in thirty languages, and the “GTD” methodology it describes has become a global phenomenon, being taught by training companies in 60 countries. David, his company, and his partners are dedicated to teaching people how to stay relaxed and productive in our fast-paced world.
1. David how did you get into productivity at the first place? You have done a lot of different things previously. Why productivity?
I just love freedom and clear space. To me that’s the coolest place to operate from, the coolest place to experience. To have the freedom to be quiet and listen to the deeper level of voices that may be talking to you: your intelligence, your intuition and all that.
So I just figured – what are the things I need to do so I can manage a complex life and still have that clear space. So that’s what I’ve done for 35 years. Just figured that out. And that’s also what my process – the GTD is really all about.
2. A lot of people – when they hear “productivity” – they think about time management. What’s your take on that?
You can’t manage time. You just manage yourself. Time management is “How do I manage what I’m doing in any particular point in time, so I feel like I’m making trusted choices about what I’m doing; instead of being driven by whatever is latest and loudest and this ambient anxiety that most people deal with, because they haven’t managed all their own commitments.
3. How should people do that though? We live in a world with so many demands, so many choices. Where should people start, if they haven’t really been conscious about the choices they’ve been making?
They need to capture everything that has their attention. Things they need to: do, handle, take care of, decide about, manage… They need to get that out of their heads. They need to make sure, that they make decisions about – what’s the next action they need to take, if anything about those things. And organise some sort of a personal external system that they trust, like the calendar. A system that reminds them about the things that they need to do, and be reminded of on a regular basis and review it regularly. So that they feel comfortable about what they are doing and what they are not doing. But you can’t feel good about what you are not doing, unless you know what you are not doing. And most people don’t have a clue. Most people make so many more decisions than they realize: about what they would, should, need to, ought to, handle and they haven’t been accountable to themselves for tracking, managing, capturing, clarifying and organizing those things.
4. Activity versus Results! A lot of people say “I’m busy” and they actually are. But they don’t take the time to define the desired outcomes they are after. Do you observe the same thing?
Yes! The same thing is true. Quite frankly – Getting Things Done is about 2 things:
✅ What does DONE mean? What is the final outcome I am committed to achieve.
✅ What does DOING look like?
Is that an email I need to send? Is it someone you I to talk to? Is that something I need to buy at the harbour store?
So outcomes and actions are the zeros and ones, and the ultimate reduction of productivity.
What am I trying to produce, as an experience or as a result and what do I need to do now to allocate or re-allocate my resources: my attention, my focus, my activity – to make sure that happens. But most people avoid those decisions. You are not born doing that! It’s actually a cognitive muscle you need to train.
Train yourself to think about: “Regarding this email – what’s the next step? And do I have something I need to finish about it?” That is the thought process you need to: recognise, practice and then implement. Otherwise this “stuff” is gonna be banging around and you are gonna have ambient anxiety, because of the spin, that will wake you up at 3:00 o’clock in the morning. And that’s not necessary!
5. What about calendar? Do you see people using it? Are you yourself blocking time in your calendar?
Sometimes I do! Calendar is for the things I need to make sure I do, no matter what; the critical things I need to handle. And then I have 90% of my life – that is outside of my calendar. Once I’ve handled my calendar, I look at what are the other options, and I just to make good intuitive choices about it.
And make sure to get a copy of his timeless bestseller: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, one of the books that had a huge impact on my own journey as a professional in the area of productivity.
And if you want to learn more productivity and culture-building strategies and ideas, check out our new book PERFORM The Unsexy Truth about (Startup) Success. It is now also available on Amazon.
Enjoy reading and #KeepPERFORMing