David Allen

Getting Things Done

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

David Allen – Author of Getting Things Done shared common sense, but not commonly practiced ways to create conditions to enable you (and others) to flourish.

What is your horizon of commitments?

  • Purpose and principles – what really matters
  • Vision – best manifestation of success
  • Goals – objectives to achieve
  • Accountabilities – Key areas to maintain
  • Projects – Things to finish
  • Actions – things to do now.


David talked about getting into the Productive State; where you’re in control, relaxed, focused, inspired, engaged. We’ve all experienced this at some point – and the trick is working out how to get back into it when you fall out of it.

Martial artists call this ‘Mind Like Water’ – where you don’t under or over react to anything, much like the ocean doesn’t care if you throw a large rock in it.

If it’s on your mind, it’s not getting done.

If you can work out how to get things off your mind, you’ll also work out how to get things done.

So here’s a question for you: Is your attention under your command or being held hostage?

Here’s a step by step guide as to what you should do right now if you’re being held hostage;

  1. Capture what has your attention
  2. Clarify the outcome you need to achieve
  3. Decide your next action
  4. Organise the inventory
  5. Review from a higher perspective
  6. Keep current


Get whatever is on your mind out of your mind and onto something else (like writing it down on a piece of paper or on a white board). This might take you anywhere between 1 – 6 hours.


Get really clear on those items. Lots of people write their list of things on their mind but they aren’t clear.

So if you’ve written “Mum” or “Bank” down, get clear on what they mean.

“Buy Mum a birthday present” – “Make appointment to meet with the bank to discuss your business loan”

You also want to define what ‘Done’ means. Buying Mum a birthday present might not mean Done. Giving that present to your Mum on her birthday in 2 weeks will equal Done.


Put things where they need to go. All you really need to get organised is a list manager and files. Create your list and file them.


You’ll need to create a habit to review your list otherwise the list will never get done. Your different lists might need to be reviewed differently.

Calendar – review 3 times a day

Goals – Review every month

Vision – Review annually

David’s recommendation, a weekly review of between 1 to 2 hours at the end of each week to ensure you’re getting things done on your list.

Staying Current

If you let your list and review get out of date you’ll no longer trust the data. So refresh your inventory and get rid of out of date or incomplete items. Create new revised lists if you need to.

Instant Executive Sanity


  • Next actions
  • Agenda’s
  • Waiting For (items you’ve delegated)
  • Projects

Next action decision making (develop a 2 minute rule) you make your decisions and get it done.

Work with a zero Inbox. This is something I can definitely attest to – having a zero base is far easier to work from.