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Getting Things Done

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A short summary of Getting Things Done (GTD), my second speech from the Toastmasters Competent Communication projects.

A short summary of Getting Things Done (GTD), my second speech from the Toastmasters Competent Communication projects.

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  • Getting Things Done.

    The Art...of Stress Free...Productivity

    Some of the speaker notes are quoted directly from the book Getting Things Done by David Allen.

    This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

  • Stress...we all deal with it. Where does it come from? I would assert to you that it is inappropriate management of the myriad commitments that we make or accept. It is the inappropriate management of the “stuff” in our lives - those things that we have allowed into our psychological or physical worlds that don’t belong where they are, but for which we haven’t determined our desired outcome and the next action step. Rather than manage these things, they manage us. Our brains are cluttered, hopelessly trying to keep all of our commitments and stuff in view. We don’t feel good about what we’re doing right now. We don’t feel good about what we’re NOT doing right now. Stress.
  • There is a better way. We can get into that state of perfect readiness - in karate they call it “mind like water.” Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact. Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does. Most people give either more or less attention to things than they deserve, simply because they don’t operate with a “mind like water.” So how do we get there?
  • You’ll find the answer to that question in this book, Getting Things Done, by David Allen. I first learned about Getting Things Done, or GTD, as it is popularly known, about five years ago. Today I hope to give you a taste of how to practically apply it.
  • The first concept that we need to understand is that of the trusted system. Our brains simply aren’t up to the task. Adrian Rogers once said that the worst ink is better than the best memory. The first element of the trusted system is your collection of Inboxes. This might be your outlook email inbox, a tray on your desk, a notebook you carry around. The two key points about the inbox are 1) you collect EVERYTHING in it and 2) you regularly empty them into the rest of your system.

    The second element of the system is a collection of lists that you manage. GTD doesn’t prescribe a fixed number of lists, but everyone needs a few basic ones. First, a list of projects - those things that require more than one action to complete. Second, a list of next actions, those things that are the next physical thing to move something from where it is to where you want it to be. Third, an incubator or “someday/maybe” list, which contains those things that you may want to commit to at some point, just not now. Finally, a delegation or “waiting for” list, containing those things you’ve handed off and on which you’ll need to follow up.

    The third element of the system is your calendar. This represents your hard landscape - those things that you absolutely must attend to on a given date or time. Your calendar is sacred. Nothing goes here unless its value disappears or it becomes impossible if not handled at the appropriate time. Everything else ends up in your lists.

    Finally, you’ll need a filing system of reference material. This can be as simple as an A-Z file drawer indexed by subject or perhaps a hierarchy of folders on your computer. These are those things that are not actionable, but may be required for reference at a later time.
  • The first concept that we need to understand is that of the trusted system. Our brains simply aren’t up to the task. Adrian Rogers once said that the worst ink is better than the best memory. The first element of the trusted system is your collection of Inboxes. This might be your outlook email inbox, a tray on your desk, a notebook you carry around. The two key points about the inbox are 1) you collect EVERYTHING in it and 2) you regularly empty them into the rest of your system.

    The second element of the system is a collection of lists that you manage. GTD doesn’t prescribe a fixed number of lists, but everyone needs a few basic ones. First, a list of projects - those things that require more than one action to complete. Second, a list of next actions, those things that are the next physical thing to move something from where it is to where you want it to be. Third, an incubator or “someday/maybe” list, which contains those things that you may want to commit to at some point, just not now. Finally, a delegation or “waiting for” list, containing those things you’ve handed off and on which you’ll need to follow up.

    The third element of the system is your calendar. This represents your hard landscape - those things that you absolutely must attend to on a given date or time. Your calendar is sacred. Nothing goes here unless its value disappears or it becomes impossible if not handled at the appropriate time. Everything else ends up in your lists.

    Finally, you’ll need a filing system of reference material. This can be as simple as an A-Z file drawer indexed by subject or perhaps a hierarchy of folders on your computer. These are those things that are not actionable, but may be required for reference at a later time.
  • The first concept that we need to understand is that of the trusted system. Our brains simply aren’t up to the task. Adrian Rogers once said that the worst ink is better than the best memory. The first element of the trusted system is your collection of Inboxes. This might be your outlook email inbox, a tray on your desk, a notebook you carry around. The two key points about the inbox are 1) you collect EVERYTHING in it and 2) you regularly empty them into the rest of your system.

    The second element of the system is a collection of lists that you manage. GTD doesn’t prescribe a fixed number of lists, but everyone needs a few basic ones. First, a list of projects - those things that require more than one action to complete. Second, a list of next actions, those things that are the next physical thing to move something from where it is to where you want it to be. Third, an incubator or “someday/maybe” list, which contains those things that you may want to commit to at some point, just not now. Finally, a delegation or “waiting for” list, containing those things you’ve handed off and on which you’ll need to follow up.

    The third element of the system is your calendar. This represents your hard landscape - those things that you absolutely must attend to on a given date or time. Your calendar is sacred. Nothing goes here unless its value disappears or it becomes impossible if not handled at the appropriate time. Everything else ends up in your lists.

    Finally, you’ll need a filing system of reference material. This can be as simple as an A-Z file drawer indexed by subject or perhaps a hierarchy of folders on your computer. These are those things that are not actionable, but may be required for reference at a later time.
  • The first concept that we need to understand is that of the trusted system. Our brains simply aren’t up to the task. Adrian Rogers once said that the worst ink is better than the best memory. The first element of the trusted system is your collection of Inboxes. This might be your outlook email inbox, a tray on your desk, a notebook you carry around. The two key points about the inbox are 1) you collect EVERYTHING in it and 2) you regularly empty them into the rest of your system.

    The second element of the system is a collection of lists that you manage. GTD doesn’t prescribe a fixed number of lists, but everyone needs a few basic ones. First, a list of projects - those things that require more than one action to complete. Second, a list of next actions, those things that are the next physical thing to move something from where it is to where you want it to be. Third, an incubator or “someday/maybe” list, which contains those things that you may want to commit to at some point, just not now. Finally, a delegation or “waiting for” list, containing those things you’ve handed off and on which you’ll need to follow up.

    The third element of the system is your calendar. This represents your hard landscape - those things that you absolutely must attend to on a given date or time. Your calendar is sacred. Nothing goes here unless its value disappears or it becomes impossible if not handled at the appropriate time. Everything else ends up in your lists.

    Finally, you’ll need a filing system of reference material. This can be as simple as an A-Z file drawer indexed by subject or perhaps a hierarchy of folders on your computer. These are those things that are not actionable, but may be required for reference at a later time.
  • So, how do we move all of our stuff into this system? That’s where the second concept, that of workflow comes into play. Every thing that we allow into our lives must traverse through this workflow. We begin at the inbox by taking the first item and asking, what is it? Is it actionable? If not, then we have three possible choices. First, if it has absolutely no present or future value, we trash it. Second, if its something we may want to take action on at a later date, then we add it to our someday/maybe list. Finally, if its something that is definitely not actionable but may be valuable for reference, we file it in our filing system.

    If the thing is actionable, then the next question is critical. For me, what will a successful outcome look like? And then, what’s the next action I need to take toward achieving that outcome? This next action may be the first of many. If so, then I’ll need to add a project to my project list and make time later to plan out additional actions. Now, for my next action. Will this take less than 2 minutes to accomplish? If so, then simply do it! There, doesn’t that feel good? I’ve made positive progress. If not, then I have two choices. First, if I’m not the right person to take this action then I delegate it to the right person, adding it to my waiting for list. If I am the right person, then I look at time. Is this a hard landscape item or can I do it at any time? This answer will determine whether it lands on my calendar or my next action list. And there you go. The workflow that can handle every thing in your life. I challenge you to identify something that you couldn’t address with this workflow.
  • The final concept to understand is that of the weekly review. It’s what ties everything together. Inevitably you will get off track. Stuff will collect outside of your inboxes. Commitments will gather dust. During a predetermined time each week, you set aside time to clean everything up and do what I call “Getting back to ZERO.” For me this happens Friday afternoons at 2:30 PM. This is my guaranteed time to empty all of my inboxes, and tidy up my system. This is when I follow up on delegations that I haven’t heard from. This is when I review projects and make sure that a next action is defined for each. This is when I review my someday/maybe list and see if I want to commit to any of the items now. This is when I reevalulate ALL of my commitments and see if they’re still things I want to do. If so, great. If not, I renegotiate or drop the commitment from my system. It’s the weekly review that keeps mind like water sustainable.
  • The final concept to understand is that of the weekly review. It’s what ties everything together. Inevitably you will get off track. Stuff will collect outside of your inboxes. Commitments will gather dust. During a predetermined time each week, you set aside time to clean everything up and do what I call “Getting back to ZERO.” For me this happens Friday afternoons at 2:30 PM. This is my guaranteed time to empty all of my inboxes, and tidy up my system. This is when I follow up on delegations that I haven’t heard from. This is when I review projects and make sure that a next action is defined for each. This is when I review my someday/maybe list and see if I want to commit to any of the items now. This is when I reevalulate ALL of my commitments and see if they’re still things I want to do. If so, great. If not, I renegotiate or drop the commitment from my system. It’s the weekly review that keeps mind like water sustainable.
  • The final concept to understand is that of the weekly review. It’s what ties everything together. Inevitably you will get off track. Stuff will collect outside of your inboxes. Commitments will gather dust. During a predetermined time each week, you set aside time to clean everything up and do what I call “Getting back to ZERO.” For me this happens Friday afternoons at 2:30 PM. This is my guaranteed time to empty all of my inboxes, and tidy up my system. This is when I follow up on delegations that I haven’t heard from. This is when I review projects and make sure that a next action is defined for each. This is when I review my someday/maybe list and see if I want to commit to any of the items now. This is when I reevalulate ALL of my commitments and see if they’re still things I want to do. If so, great. If not, I renegotiate or drop the commitment from my system. It’s the weekly review that keeps mind like water sustainable.
  • The final concept to understand is that of the weekly review. It’s what ties everything together. Inevitably you will get off track. Stuff will collect outside of your inboxes. Commitments will gather dust. During a predetermined time each week, you set aside time to clean everything up and do what I call “Getting back to ZERO.” For me this happens Friday afternoons at 2:30 PM. This is my guaranteed time to empty all of my inboxes, and tidy up my system. This is when I follow up on delegations that I haven’t heard from. This is when I review projects and make sure that a next action is defined for each. This is when I review my someday/maybe list and see if I want to commit to any of the items now. This is when I reevalulate ALL of my commitments and see if they’re still things I want to do. If so, great. If not, I renegotiate or drop the commitment from my system. It’s the weekly review that keeps mind like water sustainable.
  • The final concept to understand is that of the weekly review. It’s what ties everything together. Inevitably you will get off track. Stuff will collect outside of your inboxes. Commitments will gather dust. During a predetermined time each week, you set aside time to clean everything up and do what I call “Getting back to ZERO.” For me this happens Friday afternoons at 2:30 PM. This is my guaranteed time to empty all of my inboxes, and tidy up my system. This is when I follow up on delegations that I haven’t heard from. This is when I review projects and make sure that a next action is defined for each. This is when I review my someday/maybe list and see if I want to commit to any of the items now. This is when I reevalulate ALL of my commitments and see if they’re still things I want to do. If so, great. If not, I renegotiate or drop the commitment from my system. It’s the weekly review that keeps mind like water sustainable.
  • To summarize, we’re stressed because we’re not appropriately managing our commitments and our stuff. But it’s possible to get to a state of perfect readiness, of mind like water. We do this by managing our commitments and stuff appropriately within a system that we trust. Our system is populated by following a workflow that helps us make decisions about all of the inputs in our life. And we keep our system clean by weekly reviewing it to get back to zero. Fellow Toastmasters, this is how I get things done.
  • To summarize, we’re stressed because we’re not appropriately managing our commitments and our stuff. But it’s possible to get to a state of perfect readiness, of mind like water. We do this by managing our commitments and stuff appropriately within a system that we trust. Our system is populated by following a workflow that helps us make decisions about all of the inputs in our life. And we keep our system clean by weekly reviewing it to get back to zero. Fellow Toastmasters, this is how I get things done.
  • To summarize, we’re stressed because we’re not appropriately managing our commitments and our stuff. But it’s possible to get to a state of perfect readiness, of mind like water. We do this by managing our commitments and stuff appropriately within a system that we trust. Our system is populated by following a workflow that helps us make decisions about all of the inputs in our life. And we keep our system clean by weekly reviewing it to get back to zero. Fellow Toastmasters, this is how I get things done.
  • To summarize, we’re stressed because we’re not appropriately managing our commitments and our stuff. But it’s possible to get to a state of perfect readiness, of mind like water. We do this by managing our commitments and stuff appropriately within a system that we trust. Our system is populated by following a workflow that helps us make decisions about all of the inputs in our life. And we keep our system clean by weekly reviewing it to get back to zero. Fellow Toastmasters, this is how I get things done.
  • To summarize, we’re stressed because we’re not appropriately managing our commitments and our stuff. But it’s possible to get to a state of perfect readiness, of mind like water. We do this by managing our commitments and stuff appropriately within a system that we trust. Our system is populated by following a workflow that helps us make decisions about all of the inputs in our life. And we keep our system clean by weekly reviewing it to get back to zero. Fellow Toastmasters, this is how I get things done.

  • Transcript

    • 1. Getting Things Done
    • 2. Getting Things Done The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    • 3. The Book
    • 4. The Trusted System
    • 5. The Trusted System
    • 6. The Trusted System
    • 7. The Trusted System
    • 8. The Trusted System
    • 9. The Workflow
    • 10. The Weekly Review
    • 11. The Weekly Review Clean-Up / Get Back to ZERO
    • 12. The Weekly Review Clean-Up / Get Back to ZERO Follow-Up on Delegations
    • 13. The Weekly Review Clean-Up / Get Back to ZERO Follow-Up on Delegations Review Projects
    • 14. The Weekly Review Clean-Up / Get Back to ZERO Follow-Up on Delegations Review Projects Review Someday/Maybe
    • 15. The Weekly Review Clean-Up / Get Back to ZERO Follow-Up on Delegations Review Projects Review Someday/Maybe Reevaluate Commitments
    • 16. Summary
    • 17. Summary Stress
    • 18. Summary Stress Mind Like Water
    • 19. Summary Stress Mind Like Water Trusted System
    • 20. Summary Stress Mind Like Water Trusted System Workflow
    • 21. Summary Stress Mind Like Water Trusted System Workflow Weekly Review
    • 22. Credits http://www.sxc.hu/photo/756679 http://www.sxc.hu/photo/360182 http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1121962 http://lmau.posterous.com/new-book-to-read-getting-things-done-gtd-by-d http://www.sxc.hu/photo/43026 http://www.sxc.hu/photo/134048 http://www.sxc.hu/photo/684300 http://www.sxc.hu/photo/367985 http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1127762

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