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The Power of Getting Things Done - with David Allen

Episode Summary

Keeping agreements builds self confidence. When we are able to successfully follow through on our commitments (to our self and others) this builds self confidence. On the contrary, The biggest underminer of confidence is breaking agreements. A broken agreement has an automatic price: it breaks our trust. The problem? Most of us have made so many commitments, that it's hard to keep track of them all: keeping track of commitments takes up too much *'head'* space, preventing us from being fully present in our day-to-day lives. Many of us are often thinking of all the possible things we have to be doing, or we could be doing. Our commitments have us preoccupied, rather than fully engaged and present with our current reality. David is here to remind us that: "our head is a terrible office" and he has designed the perfect system to help us organize our ideas, so we can be fully present in our lives. David Allen originally created the GTD system as a way to build more time and freedom into his own life, and today he will help you do the same: create the space to feel clear, to experience more freedom and creativity in your day-to-day life.

Episode Notes

Keeping agreements builds self confidence. When we are able to successfully follow through on our commitments (to our self and others) this builds self confidence.

On the contrary, The biggest underminer of confidence is breaking agreements. A broken agreement has an automatic price: it breaks our trust.

The problem? *Most people don’t realize all the agreements they have made. *But there are options: If you don’t want to pay the price of disintegration of trust, you can:

  1. Eliminate the agreement.
  2. Complete the agreement
  3. Renegotiate the agreement

Most people actually feel better when they make a list. They will automatically feel better because they realize that they can’t be doing all of those things right now. But where most people are keeping track of all their agreements (in their head) is a place that has no sense of past or future. So you go to bed thinking of the 150 things you should be doing instead of sleeping. But you can’t buy cat food at 3am. You can’t get these things done if you are trying to use your head as your office.

**Your head is a crappy office. It’s not designed to remember all the things you have to do. **

Find Presence by first getting organized
*The only reason I can be fully present with you right now is that I looked at all the other things I could be doing right now, and decided that you are it. I renegotiated those other agreements, so I could be here with you right now. *

The real value of the journey is the process, not the result. So are you enjoying getting stuff done or not?

Being while Doing

The people I know who are truly into* being,* are very doing people. *Some of the most doing people you will ever meet, are the people who are really present in their life. * They are paying attention to what has their attention. They are staying fully focused on it. They are completing agreements, or they are renegotiating them, So they don’t have static going on in their head.

You can focus on your breathing to get present as long as you want; But if you still need cat food, it’s going to pop into your head.

You can discipline yourself to get your mind off of cat food, but why don’t you just write 'cat food' on a post it, stick it on your fridge, so that you can go back to meditating again?

Sometimes in order to be able to be, you need to *do. *

Being doesn’t mean you have to sit and meditate.
You can be running, cooking, hanging out with friends. As long as that is all you are doing, you are in the zone.

There is a false dichotomy between doing and being.

I can’t stop doing; but, as long as I’m doing the right things, I’m* being. *

If your day-to-day is not under control; then meditating won’t help. It will just quiet some of the noise, but the universe is always on.

It’s only how you are engaged with the world that causes a lack of clarity or overwhelm…

I like to be free, spontaneous, and relaxed, and have nothing on my mind, That’s how I came up with (this methodology) I was not free.

You don’t get a clear head by meditating or drinking. If I want to get really clear, I better find out what is on my mind, and i better decide what does that mean for me, and what do I choose to do with it,
and then choose how I want to appropriately engage with it.

So it’s really about appropriately engaging with your life, It’s not about being busy. Appropriate engagement for some people might be: STOP!

Consider if it is creating contraction or expansion:
Am I contracting when I do this, or is it creating a sense of expansion?

I am a freedom guy. I have coached and worked with some of the busiest and brightest entrepreneurs you will meet.. Their issue is: what do I do with all the bright ideas I have? It’s not about the busy. It’s not about how fast or how much, but are you *appropriately engaged with it? * And what does appropriate engagement mean? **It’s not on your mind. **

When our minds go elsewhere, we stop being present. It’s something we have some level of commitment about, but we haven’t organized it. That’s why it’s on our mind.

Most people have their head trailing off somewhere. Where most people go when their mind leaves whatever they are doing: they stop being present.

Wherever their mind went.. It’s something they made some kind of commitment about and they haven’t decided what to do with it or organized it in the proper place.

I figured out a system so people could identify what is in their mind, identify all the subtle stuff that is nagging around: How do you externalize it, how do you clarify it, how do you organize it in such a way that you can take a look at it, and take appropriate steps from there.

So then your life: whatever you are doing, you are fully present.

You can be quite zen about it and be quite present with your overwhelm.

Once we take care of the mind, it creates more space for creativity, and new ideas to emerge… *

There are two key behaviors in life: there is creativity and completion. So we need to complete the things that we have already created, and then we are accountable for where we put our focus.

You can’t stop either way. You make a commitment and you’re going to eat it. GTD is really about managing the completion part.

How do you prevent procrastination?
For sensitive peopleL they just need to dumb it down. You actually have to train yourself to think in terms of outcome and action regarding the things that have got your attention.

Most people’s to do lists are incomplete lists of unclear things. You have to break it down into a project. Understand what your Project is, what is your desired outcome, and then clarify next steps.


David Allen is organizing the GTD Summit this June 20-21 in Amsterdam. You are all invited to join. Here is a link to sign up.