Join David Allen for an in-depth discussion in this video What are common misconceptions about Getting Things Done?, part of Getting Things Done.
- You know, one of the unique things about getting things done, a lot of people think of it as an organization workshop or seminar or teaching, or time management. It's really not that. It addresses the things that those tend to address but in a much larger, more lifelong kind of way. One of the things we've really discovered over these 20 or 30 years is that getting things done is not something that you finish. You don't finish mathematics. You don't finish Italian. You don't finish painting. You don't finish photography. Those are not things to finish. Those are things to get better and better and better and more masterful at.
The same is true for getting things done. It really is the art and craft of work. about how do we do engage with our world, and it's really is a lifelong thing. People have read my book five and six times, and they say it's a totally different book and it actually is a totally different book. Same words in there but you'll bring a different you to the next time you read it and the next time you read it, the different you will notice different things that you didn't see before, so as you change, anything that's a stable datum, anything that's stable like this principle. These principles don't change. They're as old as dirt. They'll be true forever.
We're now living in a world where these principles are a lot more important for people to stay sane and sustainable and to keep their focus because there are so many things out there that are potentially distracting about that so this is a lifelong thing. It's a lifelong lifestyle approach, really because as your life changes, there'll be a next level of implementing, getting things done. It could very well be that as your life changes, maybe you're getting into retirement. I know when I moved from CEO to chairman of my small, little company, it changed the nature of my work and how I managed that.
It took me about six months to re-calibrate my own system about the things I could now let go of and the things that I did now need to focus on, so I'm constantly using this model and taking it to another iteration. So, as your life changes, if your life never changed, yeah, you could probably put it onto cruise control and "Okay, I've now implemented this and put it up," but that won't be true. As a matter of fact, the test of the metal, again as I may have mentioned is when people are in transition and those changes are happening. People have asked, "Gee, David. What's new these days out there that may be different with the new technologies and smartphones and mobile and all that stuff," and I say "Nothing's new except how frequently it is." While I've been talking, things have been changing out there.
Just in the 48, 72 hours, anybody has probably gotten more change producing and priority shifting and project-creating inputs than our parents got in a month, maybe in a year. So, change is always going to create some sort of a dissonance and a distraction until you can re-calibrate to it, but it used to be that things didn't change significantly that much, that often, so people could get onto cruise control and stay onto cruise control for a while. Nobody really has that luxury anymore, not even that that was a luxury.
A lot of people would say, "I like the world out there moving as fast as it is." A lot of people would be bored stupid if they couldn't get that kind of input, if they weren't getting 300 emails a day. So, really the ability to be able to stay on top of the game as fast as it's coming in. As it comes in, I need to decide what it is, what it means to me and I need to calibrate that against all the other things that I've collected, that I've attached myself to and that I'm involved in and that is a martial art. That's not something we're born doing.
It's not something your mind was actually designed to do very well. As Whitehead said, "Look, thinking should be like cavalry charges, you save it for very specific moments," you know? He also said, "Civilization is pretty much calibrated by how many things you can get done without having to think about it." So, getting things done was understanding what is the cognitive model about how do we engage with things that we have our attention on so that we can get our attention off of it, but we're not born doing it. You can learn to do it.
You can do it. You can not do it. You can stop doing it and it'll all come back up here. The big key is how do you keep this clear all the time so that you're then more capable of being able to deal with change as it's coming at you and coming towards you.
NEW for 2015: In an exclusive bonus chapter, David Allen answers some of the most frequently asked questions he receives about Getting Things Done, including why GTD is different and how it can scale for larger teams and organizations.
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 1/02/2015. What changed?
A: We added 45 minutes of new content in the Bonus Interview chapter. Learn why Getting Things Done is different from other productivity improvement methods, and how it can work for you, your family, and your team.