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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Adapted from Ardea Coaching and Mike's

Notes) BASIC SUMMARY Ineffective work habits, resistance, procrastination, and other productivity problems and stresses come about because of two thingswe dont have a system that unerringly keeps track of what we have to do, and (because of this) our brains try to take over the task of remembering everything, so we spend our mental energy trying to think of what we need to do rather than thinking creatively about the tasks. The key is to create the system that gets stuff off our minds reliably. The system consists of five parts: Collecting everything thats in our heads; processing each thing individually and deciding what the next physical action to take is; organizing the reminders of these Next Actions by context in which they can be done; reviewing everything periodically to remind your brain that youve got it all; and finally, of course, doing stuff. CHAPTER SUMMARY Introduction: Welcome to Getting Things Done The purpose of the book is to be both productive and relaxed when you want or need to be. Theres no way to perfect personal productivity and organization, but often it just takes simple processes or tricks to improve what youve got. Processes are best experienced but books are linear, so its divided into three sections: Part 1 (chapters 1-3) is an overview of the methodology; Part 2 (chapters 4-10) covers how to implement the methodology; and Part 3 (chapters 11-13) goes over the subtle and profound results of using the system consistently. PART 1 1. A New Practice for a New Reality The new reality is that the hard edges there used to be around work (used in its broadest sense) are gone. Work life and home life bleed together, projects overlap, responsibilities shift, and so forth. Our brains, on the other hand, have a kind of on/off switch when it comes to things we say well dowere either doing it or we arent. And if we arent doing it, theres something wrong. Getting Things Done is about dealing with that by systematically doing two things: 1) Getting everything out of your head and into the organizational system, and 2) making decisions up front about the stuff in your system. These two things allow your mind to relax about what youre choosing to do (and not do). I have found that lack of time is not the major issue for them (though they themselves may think it is); the real problem is a lack of clarity and definition about what a project really is and what the associated next-action steps required are. Two types of control are gained: Vertical control (dealing with all the steps in a project) and horizontal control (staying in touch with and on top of all of your projects). David Allen defines a
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Adapted from Ardea Coaching and Mike's Notes) Page 1 of 9

project as anything that will take more than one physical action to complete (change the light bulb in the bathroom isnt a project unless you have to go to the store to get new light bulb). 2. Getting Control of Your Life: The Five Stages of Mastering Workflow The GTD method has five stages: Collect, Process, Organize, Review, and Do. This manages the horizontal level (vertical comes later). Most people do each at different levels, so their productivity sticks at the lowest-functioning one. COLLECT Everything that could be considered incomplete should be captured outside of your mind into your inbox(es). Inboxes can be electronic, voice, or paper-based. Use the minimum number necessary to effectively collect everything on a regular basis, and all should be regularly processed. PROCESS Take each item, one at a time, and ask what is it? and is there an action associated with it? If its not actionable, there are three outcomes: Trash, Incubate (its a someday or maybe item/task), or file for Reference. If its actionable, decide if its a project or notthat is, will it take 2 or more steps? If its a project, add it to a project list and decide on its next physical action. If its not a project, just decide the next action. For all Next Actions, do one of three things: 1) If it can be done in less than two minutes, do it; 2) Delegate it if someone else is the right person to do the next step, or 3) Defer it into your Next Actions folders/lists. ORGANIZE Have places to receive and hold all of your actions from the processing. These include:
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Trash/recycling; a Someday/Maybe folder for incubated things; a filing system for reference material; a Waiting For folder to keep reminders of the things youve delegated; Next Action folder(s); a projects list (which acts as an index) and any folders necessary to hold project support materials; a calendar and/or a tickler file for time- and date-specific actions.

REVIEW Frequently reviewing helps keep it all together. Review the calendar most often for the hard landscape of your day (the things that must be done today or at a particular time). Next will be Next Action files so you can decide what to do with unallocated time. Finally, a
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Adapted from Ardea Coaching and Mike's Notes) Page 2 of 9

Weekly Review should be done to look over everything, update anything that needs it, look ahead to the next week, and generally reassure your brain that youve got everything under control. DO There are three ways of deciding what to do next. The Four Criteria Model looks at 1) what context youre in (doing errands vs. sitting at the computer, etc.), 2) the time you have available, 3) your energy level, and 4) priority. The Threefold Model looks to find a balance for the three types of work: doing predefined work; doing work as it shows up; and defining your work. And the Six Level model looks at things from different altitudes -- from the Runway (current actions) all the way up to 50,000 Feet (your life taken as a whole) 3. Getting Projects Creatively Under Way: Five Phases of Project Planning This is the vertical control piece. David Allen describes what he calls the Natural Planning Model, so called because its how we go about planning things in our daily lives, though not necessarily how we do it when were formally planning. The model looks like this: 1. Purpose and PrinciplesPurpose asks the why? question. Defines success, creates decision-making criteria, aligns resources, motivates, clarifies focus, and expands options. Principles are the standards and values that define the criteria for excellence in behavior and parameters for action ( I would give others totally free reign to do this as long as theywhat?). 2. Vision and OutcomeThe what? question. Having clarity and focus about your vision and outcomes helps your brains reticular activating system (RAS) to start making you aware of how it can happen. The RAS is the part of your brain that is responsible for self-fulfilling prophecies, as well as the effect where once you become aware of something you start seeing it everywhere. 3. BrainstormingCan be done internally or externally (mind-mapping, white boards, etc.) but external helps you to see everything without having to remember it all. Keys to good brainstorming: dont judge, challenge, evaluate, or criticize; go for quantity, not quality; and put analysis and organization in the background. 4. OrganizingIdentify major pieces and sort by one or more: components, sequences, priorities. And do detail only to the degree necessary to determine next actions. 5. Next ActionsAll actions that can be taken now should be identified; dependent ones can wait until the steps they depend on have been completed. If you have trouble with this step check that youve spent enough time on previous steps to be clear, and that youre truly committed to the project in general (as opposed to it being a Someday/Maybe project). Most projects (about 80%) can go through all of this in your head; about 15% might require a little external brainstorming, etc.; and only about 5% will need the deliberate application of one or more steps of the model. If you need more clarity, shift up (towards purpose); if you need more action to happen, shift down (towards Next Actions).

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Adapted from Ardea Coaching and Mike's Notes)

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PART 2 4. Getting Started: Setting Up the Time, Space, and Tools Most of the stuff in the book are tricks to get the not-so-smart part of your brain to do what you want (like putting the outgoing mail next to the door so you see it on the way out). Setting aside time: Getting set up can take a couple of days but can be done in smaller chunks. Best to have a large chunk of uninterrupted time, such as a weekend or holiday. After hours at the office isnt as good because youre tired and have less time. Setting up the space: You need a central cockpit of control. Minimum: writing surface and room for an in-basket. More functional: add phone, computer, stacking trays, working file drawers, paper, and favorite writing instrument, plus any essential equipment for doing your work. If you work outside the home, make satellite control centers at home and work. If you travel a lot, make a portable version with the basic files and supplies. Dont share control space with anyone else! Getting the tools youll need: 3 or so stacking paper trays, a stack of plain paper (for writing one task/idea per sheet), paper-handling supplies (post-its, paper clips, etc.), an automatic labeler (inexpensive Brother brand with AC adapter and black-on-white tape), manila file folders (many, letter-sized), a calendar (or keep using the one youre using), and trash/recycling bins. You dont need a planner unless youre already using one regularlythe important thing is finding a simple, fast, and fun way of creating lists on the run and reviewing lists easily and regularly. Filing: There are two kinds of filing systems: discreet filing systems (for contracts, financial data, etc.all one type of thing where the category would fill more than half a file drawer), and general reference (for notes, brochures, faxes, printouts, etc.). General Reference filing needs to be fun to do, easy, and complete. Success tips: keep general reference within swivel distance of your control area; use one alphabetic system (up to one subdivision: Gardening pots, Gardeningideas, etc.); have lots of fresh folders on hand; keep drawers under full for easy access; label with automatic labeler; get rid of hanging files (or do one labeled file per hanger); have cabinets with high-quality mechanics; and purge files at least once per year. Before you start, clear all commitments for that time so youre not thinking about what you have to remember to do afterwards, etc. 5. Collection: Corralling Your Stuff Capture everything that isnt exactly where you want it, the way you want it. This can take one to six hours to complete. Place-savers are allowed (a sheet with deal with hall closet written on it). Physical: Keep supplies, reference material, decoration, and equipment where it is unless there is an action associated like reference stuff that needs to be updated. If its too big to fit, make a note and drop it in the inbox. If theres more than can fit in the inbox, at least designate a place so you can tell whats in and whats not. Dont purge and organize, just put a note that it needs to be done in the inbox (purge 4-drawer file). Also put in: previous to-do lists,
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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Adapted from Ardea Coaching and Mike's Notes)

organizers, Outlook/Palm task lists, etc. Start centrally and move outwarddesktop, desk drawers, countertops, cabinets, walls, floors, shelves, equipment, furniture, fixtures, other locations (home, cars, boats, garage, etc.) Mental: Collect anything thats left in your mind: thoughts, ideas, projects, things. Write one per sheet and go for quantity. Pages 114-117 have a list of mental triggers of things that might be stuck in the mind, from Professional: Projects started, not completed to Civic issues. 6. Processing: Getting In to Empty Its best to do the first major processing and organizing at the same time because theres a dance between determining actions and putting the reminders of those actions somewhere. If youre not sure how youll eventually organize, stay low-tech and upgrade to new tools/systems later. Processing rules: top item first; one item at a time (except for the very small group of people who need to multitask to think clearlythey can take two or maybe three things out at once); and nothing goes back into in. The processing question: Whats the Next Action? If no action is necessary, trash, incubate, or reference. Trash doesnt matter if you use if in doubt throw it out or if in doubt keep it (but check with CPA, etc. for retention schedules for documents, financial info, etc.). Incubate items go into Someday/Maybe or tickler files -- no action now, but there might be later. Reference is non-actionable but might be useful information, so file it in your general reference filing system. If there is an action, decide exactly what it is, in visible, physical terms. Not set meeting but email meeting request to Alice, Bob, and Carly. If you think the next step is to decide something, it probably means the actual next step is about getting more information to make the decision easier. Once you have the Next Action, you can:

Do It. If its quick (under 2 minutes or so), just take care of it right away rather than bother creating a reminder and organizing it. You can adjust this guideline based on how much time youve got. Delegate It. If youre not the best person to take the next action, pass it off in some systemic way that records date of handoff and what youre waiting for. Put that record in your Waiting For file or folder. Perhaps best-to-worst order for ways to hand off: email, written note dropped off on their desk/routed to them, leave a voicemail, add to agenda for next conversation, talk directly (worst because it interrupts both of you, usually takes the longest time to actually hand off, and doesnt leave a record of the handoff). Defer It. Put it in Next Actions for organizing in next chapter. If its a project that takes 2+ actions to complete, add it to the Projects list.

7. Organizing: Setting Up the Right Buckets All of the organizing is just lists and folders, so anything that helps you manage lists and folders is fair game for how to do this. There are seven basic types of things to organize/manage: Projects (the index list), project support materials, calendared actions and information, Next Actions lists, Waiting For lists, reference material, and a Someday/Maybe list. Its important
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Adapted from Ardea Coaching and Mike's Notes) Page 5 of 9

to keep these distinct from one another so that they dont get muddy and start your mind wondering if you really have it together. Calendar: All time- and date-specific things on the calendar and nothing else. The calendar is only for what must be done on that date, not what you think you might like to do on that day. Next Actions: If you organize the asap actions by the context in which you can do them, you save yourself effort sorting through for stuff you can do and are more able to take advantage of odd idle moments. Common contexts: calls, at computer, errands, read/review, at office, at home, agendas. Sometimes it makes sense to use the original item as a reminder (the actual article to read) and sometimes just a reminder. Waiting For: Triggers to remind you where to light fires to get things moving if you need to. Dates for when it was handed off are useful to note. Email: Online stuff can be handled in a similar manner. Since @ sorts to the top in Outlook and other mail programs, you can make folders like @Actions and @Waiting For and process incoming mail just the same as the physical inbox. Review these folders as necessary. Projects: The projects list helps you to get the broader workload picture. You dont need to subdivide projects, but if you find it helpful, you might find helpful: Personal vs. Professional; Mine vs. Delegated; or different project types. Project Support: Anything needed as reference or support should be filed separately, the project itself should be on the projects list, and all appropriate next actions should be in their respective context-sorted Next Action folders. Someday/Maybe: Fill with things you might do and with current projects you choose to take off your plate. You might make collections of Someday/Maybe items, such as recipes, books to read, creative ideas, etc. Calendar: Can also be used to trigger future options such as activating projects (Begin conference prep), events you might want to participate in (Chamber breakfast tomorrow?) and decision catalysts (Time to decide: change jobs?) Tickler Files: These work like a calendar, only for physical items such as tickets, forms to fill out, etc. The next days folder gets dumped into the inbox and filed in back. Checklists: Ad-hoc or permanent lists that help keep track of stuff or gather information, from Things to take camping to Core life values to My Areas of Responsibility. 8. Reviewing: Keeping Your System Functional The purpose of all the previous steps is to have everything out of your head and ready for review when necessary so you can see it all easily. Review as often as necessary to feel good that what youre choosing to do is the right thing to be doing. Youll need to reassure your mind that your system is still up to date to keep it from taking over and trying to remember everything. Very simply, the Weekly Review is whatever you need to
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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Adapted from Ardea Coaching and Mike's Notes)

do to get your head empty again. Things you might do during a weekly review: collect loose papers, notes, journal entries, etc. into the inbox; review past calendar data for missing Next Actions; review future calendar data for prep actions; empty your head of anything youve been thinking about; review projects and other big-outcome lists; review and update Next Actions folders, Waiting For folder, Someday/Maybe folder, and any relevant checklists youve made; be creativewhat new ideas can you have? Recommendations: Set aside 2 hours once a week to do this, preferably early Friday afternoon so you can still reach people at work if there are some final things to clean up. Also, you can go into the weekend relaxed that youre on top of everything. 9. Doing: Making the Best Action Choices You can use your intuition/heart/etc. to decide which action to take next. Or you can narrow it down with one of these models. Four Criteria Model

Contextof your Next Actions folders, which can you work on given where you are now? You can ignore all other actions. Time availablenext, ignore things that will take longer than the current window of time. Energy Availabletake on big, important things when youre energetic, and water the plants or fill the stapler when youre not. Priorityout of everything that matches your context, time, and energy, whats the most important?

Threefold Model for Evaluating Daily Work You can do predefined work, do work as it shows up, or define your work. The goal is to appropriately balance these three types. Many people use the inevitability of an almost infinite stream of immediately evident things to do as a way to avoid the responsibilities of defining their work and managing their total inventory. Its easy to get seduced into not-quite-so-critical stuff that is right at hand, especially if your in-basket and your personal organization are out of control. Another quote: People often complain about the interruptions that prevent them from doing their work. But interruptions are unavoidable in life. When you become elegant at dispatching whats coming in and are organized enough to take advantage of the weird time windows that show up, you can switch between one task and the other rapidly. Finally, Your ability to deal with surprise is your competitive edge. Six-Level Model for Reviewing Your Own Work All the levels are integrated and interdependent, so you can work on any level at any time. Practically speaking, it seems that working from the bottom up works better by freeing up lower levels so you can think at a higher level. They are:

Runway: Collect, process, organize, review, do; 10,000 feet: Projects-level (review, clarify, organize);
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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Adapted from Ardea Coaching and Mike's Notes)

20,000 feet: Current areas of responsibility/focus. List these in writing and update, review, use as triggers for potential new projects, etc. every 1-3 months; 30,000 feet: 1 year goals; 40,000 feet: 1-5 year goals; and 50,000 feet: Overview of your life.

10. Getting Projects Under Control Most people could do more thinking/planning about their projects. Mainly focus on two types: ones that keep your attention even if you know next actions, and ones where useful information/ideas keep showing up. The first type can typically use more brainstorming, organizing, or gathering information. The other type is best served by adding more collection methods for those ideas. Tools to support project thinking can help trigger and capture ideas. These include many operational writing instruments in places where youd likely use them, paper and pads, easels and whiteboards (with plenty of fresh markers), and a computer with whatever software you need. Get good quality stuff that you actually want to use. A good filing system to collect and file the project materials and ideas is important. Software finishes the list, but most project planning software is overkill. More useful includes anything that can do outlining, capture brainstorm results, and write/attach notes to other things (word processors do most of these). Finally, spend an hour or two with your tools thinking, top to bottom, about any major projects that warrant it. PART 3 11. The Power of the Collection Habit When people with whom you interact notice that without fail you receive, process, and organize in an airtight manner the exchanges and agreements they have with you, they begin to trust you in a unique way. It noticeably enhances your mental well-being and improves the quality of your communications and relationships, both personally and professionally. The negative feelings that may come up around our stuff before and during the initial collection/processing stage can come from our broken agreements with ourselves. To avoid this, dont make the agreement in the first place, complete the agreement, or renegotiate the agreement consciously. You can only do the second two if you know what youve agreed. So keep collecting until nothing else comes up and you have no sense of something being missing. Only then can you be sure youre clear. When a note sits idle in someones in-basket unprocessed, or when he or she nods yes, I will in a conversation but doesnt write anything down, my uh-oh bell rings. This is unacceptable behavior in my world. There are much bigger fish to fry than worrying about leaks in the system.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Adapted from Ardea Coaching and Mike's Notes)

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When groups of people collectively adopt the 100 percent collection standard, they have a tight ship to sail. It doesnt mean theyre sailing in the right direction, or even that theyre on the right ship; it just means that the one theyre on, in the direction its going, is doing that with the most efficient energy it can. 12. The Power of the Next-Action Decision Asking Whats the next action? at meetings and deciding who will do that action makes a huge difference in both clarity and effectiveness. We are accountable to define what, if anything, we are committed to make happen as we engage with ourselves and others. The magic happens because it would likely require only about ten seconds of thinking to figure out what the next action would be for almost everything on your list. It also works because it shortcircuits the mental tangles and emotional resistance that cause procrastination. The danger in continuing to do GTD is that the next action folders may get polluted with things that arent specific next physical actions but actually projects. When this happens, your mind starts to go numb to the whole folder. 13. The Power of Outcome Focusing Focusing on outcomes is how you make sure your tight ship (see last paragraph from chapter 11) is sailing in the right directionits how all new visions, ideas, and projects are born. Focusing on outcomes brings about the same benefits as next-action thinking: clarity, productivity, accountability, and empowerment. Both outcome focus and next action thinking help people shift out of victim mentality and start moving towards a solution.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (Adapted from Ardea Coaching and Mike's Notes)

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