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Making It All Work

Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life

David Allen
I ncom pl et Ion t r Ig ger l Ist I ncom pl et Ion t r Ig ger l Ist n a t u r a l p l a n n I n g m o d e l® proj e c t pl a n n I ng t r Ig g e r l Is t m a s t e r I ng Wor k F l oW t h e W e e k ly r e v I e W Wor k F l oW proc e s sI ng & org a n I z I ng hor I zons oF Focus gt d - Q —W h at Is you r s? 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 10 12

faxes. facilities. furniture. books to read. leads. other professionals. upcoming events. colleagues. new systems. business cards. other organizations Communications to make/get calls. resume Wardrobe professional Making It All Work by David Allen—Enhanced CD 2 . responses to proposals. filing. things to learn. conversation and communication tracking Meetings upcoming. travel. things to find out. conferences. morale. partners. staff development. banks. sales process. letters. asset management Planning/organizing goals. skills to develop or practice. materials. e-mails. leadership. targets. culture Administration legal issues. petty cash. office equipment. external actions needed to happen to continue or complete projects . financial plans. formal education (licensing. meetings. training Staff hiring. memos Writing to finish/submit reports. career research. research. supplies. instructions. training. . P&L.). reporting. seminars. lines of authority. change initiatives. faxes. others in organization. computers.IncompletIon tr Igger lIst What do you have attention on? professional Projects started. presentations. status reporting. submitted items for response/reimbursement. answers to questions. forecasting. tickets. pieces of projects. succession planning. voice mails. storage. databases. summaries. need to be de-briefed Read/review books. marketing plans. objectives. delegated projects/tasks. personnel. things ordered Professional development training. decorations. customer ser vice Marketing/promotion campaigns. investors. prospects. minutes. credit line. budget. personal organizers Sales customers. vacation Organization development org chart. stationery. replies to communications. need to be set or requested. etc. rewrites and edits. relationship tracking. subordinates. receivables. payables. reviews. reviews. customers. articles. firing. balance sheet. implementations. restructuring. changes. fixtures. marketing material. degrees). printers. feedback. public relations Waiting for information. . evaluations. articles Financial cash. (decisions. proposals. software. insurance. relationship building. policies/procedures. staffing. business plans. compensation Systems phones. job descriptions. not completed Projects that need to be started “Look into” projects Commitments/promises to others boss. communication. periodicals.

professionals Communications to make/get calls. entertainment. lights and wiring. remodeling. sports equipment. computers. commuting. accountants Legal wills. storage. education. weddings. furniture. partner. legal affairs Waiting for mail order. parents. photography. outings. checkups. groceries Community neighborhood. phones. tailoring Pets health. partner. ser vice work. appliances. cards. training. seminars. formal. cleaning. videos. insurance. budget. garages. luggage. office supply. creative expressions Transportation autos.other organizations ser vice. music. landlords. answering machines. casual. filing. heating and A/C. repairs. holidays. walls. neighbors. community. tools Leisure books. food. loaned items.IncompletIon tr Igger lIst What do you have attention on? personal Projects started. doctors. vacation. loans. construction. recreation Financial bills. organizing. relatives Administration home office supplies. travel. children. people to visit. kitchen stuff. sports. faxes. landscaping. internet. estate. driveways. coaching. banks. volunteer. maintenance. dinners. specialists. stationers. spiritual organization Commitments/promises to others spouse. receptions. optometrist. repair. career. gifts. sporting events Family projects/activities with spouse. decor. investments. letters. cleaners. reservations Clothes professional. department stores. places to purge. mortgage. DVD. roofs. e-mails. graduations. anniversaries. bikes. reimbursements. web surfing. utilities. children. friends. cooking. taxes. supplies Errands hardware store. motorcycles. parents. laundry. tickets. plumbing. dentist. malls. civic involvements Making It All Work by David Allen—Enhanced CD 3 . ceilings. hobbies. places to visit. trusts. exercise Personal development classes. family. storage areas Health support and maintenance. accessories. pharmacy. floors. electricity. appliances. information. cultural events. rsvp’s Home/household real estate. schools. equipment. travel. thank-yous Upcoming events birthdays. repairs. repairs. not completed Projects that need to be started Projects . bank. diet. TV. parties.

 sequences. planning is sufficient. If it’s still on your mind. Next Actions •   Determine next actions on current in de pen dent components. (What should be done next. If your project needs more to be happening. open. and resist critical analysis. then more is needed. determine the next action to get that to happen. Organizing •   Identify components (subprojects). raise the level of your focus. Brainstorming •   What are all the things that occur to me about this? What is the current reality? What do I  know? What do I not know? What ought I consider? What  haven’t I considered?  etc. nonjudgmental. Making It All Work by David Allen—Enhanced CD 4 .natur a l pl a nnIng model® 1. as needed for review and control. 2. 5. 4. Shift the level of focus on the project as follows if needed: If your project needs more clarity. or or ga niz ing charts. and/or priorities. •   View from all sides. •   Be complete. How much planning is required? If the project is off your mind. bulleted lists. lower the level of your focus. and  who will do it?) •   If more planning is required. (see Project  Planning Trigger List). •   What needs to happen to make the  whole thing happen? •   Create outlines. Mission/Vision/Goal/Successful Outcome •   What would it be like if it  were totally successful? How would I know? •   What would that success look or feel like for each of the parties with an interest? 3. Purpose/Guiding Principles •   Why is this being done? What would “on purpose” really mean? •   What are the key standards to hold in making decisions and acting on this project? What rules  do we play by? •   The purpose and principles are the guiding criteria for making decisions on the project.

 directions.  or  input  that  you   haven’t done yet? What’s the worst idea you can imagine about doing this project? (What is therefore the best idea. when? Politics Whose  buy- in do you need? How can you get it? Stakeholders’ Considerations Board Stockholders Employees Vendors Customers Community Legal Issues? Regulations? Space/Facilities/Equipment What requires room? How do you get it? What tools do you need? When? Phones/computers Research What might you need to know? What  would  they  say. which is its opposite?) What is the most outrageous thing you can think  of about this project? What would make this project unique? What   haven’t  you  asked  yourself  about  this  yet? Making It All Work by David Allen—Enhanced CD 5 .  goals? How will this affect your competitive position? Administration Who’s accountable for this project’s success? Lines of communication Methods of reporting What structures do you need? What planning is still likely to be required? What regrouping will you need? How often? What people do you need? Current staffing? Hiring? Subcontractors.  ask. Who  would  have  concern  about  the  success  of  this project? What are the potential payoffs (profit)? Who signs the checks? Operations What is the timing? Hard deadlines? What might affect timing? Who’s going to do the work? How do you ensure complete delivery? Quality How will you monitor the progress? How will you know if the project is on course? What data do you need. . to whom. when? What reports.project pl a nnIng tr Igger lIst Resources Whose input do you need? Whose input could you use? Has anything like this been done before? What mistakes can you learn from? What successes can you learn from? What resources do you have? What resources might you need? Executive issues How does this relate to the strategic plan? How does it relate to other priorities. con sul tants? How do you get involvement? What skills are required? Who needs to know how to do what? What training do you need? How do you get it? What other communication do you need? Who needs to be informed as you go along? What policies/procedures are affected? What about morale? Fun? Finance What will this cost? How do you get it? What might affect the cost? Might you need additional financing? Public Relations Is there value in others knowing about this? How do you do that? Risks What could happen? Could you handle it? Creative thinking . .

 Errands. 2.m aster Ing Wor k FloW 1. voice mail. •   Have as few of these collectors as you can and as many as you need. At Computer. •   If it is actionable.  event- trigger lists. by pro cessing and or ga niz ing (see below).). or defer it (put it on an  action- reminder list or in an action folder). •   Maintain an “on- hold” system for triggers of possible actions at later dates (Someday/Maybe  lists. specifically). or file it as reference. •   Maintain support information files for projects as needed (can be kept in reference system or in  pending area). etc.). The four key action categories are: Projects (projects you have a commitment to finish) Calendar (actions that must occur on a specific day or at a specific time) Next Actions (actions to be done as soon as possible) Waiting For (projects and actions others are supposed to be doing and which you care about) •   Add subcategories of these lists if it makes them easier to use (Calls. decide the very next physical action: do it (if less than two minutes). Collect •  Capture anything and everything that has your attention in leakproof external “buckets” (your  in-baskets. •   Add lists of  longer- horizon goals and values that influence you. toss it. At Home. If one action will not close the loop. e-mail. notebooks.  etc. Making It All Work by David Allen—Enhanced CD 6 . calendar. etc. •   Maintain a general-reference filing system for information and materials that have no action  but which may need to be retrieved. “tickle” it for possible later action. Organize •   Group the results of pro cessing your input into appropriately retrievable and reviewable categories. org charts. •   Add checklists that may be useful as needed ( job description. Get them out of your short-term memory (use the Incompletion Trigger Lists to keep yourself “downloaded”). •   Empty them regularly. tickler). 3. Process •   Pro cess the items you have collected (decide what each thing means. •   If it is not actionable.). delegate  it (and track it on a “waiting for” list). then identify the commitment as a project and  put it on a reminder list of projects.

3–5 year goals (annually) •  50. values.current actions (daily) •   10. .) •   Ensure the best intuitive choices by consistent regular focus on priorities. . 5. .000 ft.000 ft.000 ft.000 ft.000 work you have previously defined or ad hoc work as it appears or 3.take time to define your work (You must sufficiently process and organize to trust your evaluation of the priority of the ad hoc. how much energy you have. always accessible for review. Review •   Review calendar and action lists daily (or whenever you could possibly do any of them). Do •   Make choices about your actions based on what you can do (context). how much time you  have.4.current projects (weekly) •   20. lifestyle (annually +) Making It All Work by David Allen—Enhanced CD 7 . •   Choose to: 1.  trusting your intuition in moment-to-moment decision-making. (“What is the value to  me of doing X instead of doing Y?”) Revisit and recalibrate your commitments at appropriate  intervals for the various levels of life and work (see Horizons of Focus): •   Runway . •   Review the  longer- horizon lists of goals. purpose. . and get creative (see Weekly Review). get and then your priorities. and visions as often as required to keep your  project list complete and current. •   Conduct a customized weekly review to get clean.1–2 year goals (quarterly) •   40. •   Stay flexible by maintaining a “total life” action reminder system. .current responsibilities (monthly) •   30.

Review Previous Calendar Data Review past calendar in detail for remaining action items.the W eek ly r ev IeW get clear Collect Loose Papers and Materials Gather all accumulated business cards. Browse through project plans. etc.. Capture actions triggered.and short-term). get current Review Action Lists Mark off completed actions. completions. Review for reminders of further action steps to record. Review Waiting-For List Record appropriate actions for any needed follow-up. etc. someday/maybes. get creative Review Someday/Maybe List Review for any projects which may now have become active and transfer to “Projects. support material. and outcomes one by one. Check off received ones. and any other  work- in- progress material to  trigger new actions. goals. Be Creative and Courageous Any new. creative. Review Upcoming Calendar Review upcoming calendar events (long. waiting-fors. and e-mails. ensuring at least one current action item on each. and miscellaneous paper-based materials into your in-basket.  hare brained. and transfer into the active system.” Delete items no  longer of interest. Get “IN” to zero Process completely all outstanding paper materials. dictation. wonderful. waiting-fors.  thought- provoking. action items.  risk- taking ideas to add into your system? Making It All Work by David Allen—Enhanced CD 8 . Review Project (and Larger Outcome) Lists Evaluate status of projects. etc. Empty Your Head Put in writing and process any uncaptured new projects. receipts. voice mails. journal and meeting notes. Review Any Relevant Checklists Use as a trigger for any new actions. reference data.

Wor k FloW pro cessIng & or ga nIz Ing Making It All Work by David Allen—Enhanced CD 9 .

for which you will achieve a starting line-up position on a national team (goal). Priorities are determined from the top down—i. An altitude map can be used to identify which conversation.Purpose and core values. environmentally friendly products. enterprise.  Long- term  outcomes and ideal scenarios. What it will look. Following is a general list of the levels of focus. which you will express by becoming a world-class athlete and spokesperson (vision). your purpose and values will drive your vision of the purpose being fulfilled. however. – Vision. board. might have the most value. alignment. You realize you want to get a new personal trainer (project). feel like with successful implementation. which will create goals and objectives. for which you need to call your college coach (next action) to get his recommendation. sound. Why are we doing this? What are the critical behaviors? Formats:  Off- sites with partners.  meetings. (Samples given from a hypothetical business . To do all this you need to maintain a rigorous training program (area of focus). with typical formats and suggested frequencies of visitation. which will require actions to get them done. . family. These range from core intention—the understanding of the purpose and values of an undertaking. direction. with yourself and others. “Strong and lasting customer relations. at any point in time. and implemented. Ultimate intention for something and the standards for its success. and motivation are needed (Gracie’s Gardens: “Provide the highest-quality landscape and garden materials to delighted retail and wholesale customers”..e. well-supported staff”. Clarity is enhanced and distraction reduced when the multiple levels with which you are engaged have been assessed and the commitments emerging from each one have been appropriately identified.000 ft. life planning Frequency: Whenever additional clarity. at what horizon. As your world and your awareness of it change. Each horizon is equally important to clarify. Et cetera. corresponding to different altitudes of perspective. which will frame areas of focus and responsibility. Alignment of the various levels produces maximum productivity. team. Keeping your thinking current at all horizons is a dynamic process. You may know the vision but not the actions and who’s doing them. so must these arenas of your focus be continually updated.Gracie’s Gardens) 50.) 40. You may know the long-term goal but have yet to identify the projects needed. and the content of your thinking and commitments will be different on each level. Making It All Work by David Allen—Enhanced CD 10 . A key driver for your life may be to assist others in achieving their dreams (purpose). All of those will generate projects. captured.  whole enterprises. or life—to the most mundane—the next physical actions required to move them forward.hor Izons oF Focus The altitude map “Work” is defined and managed from at least six different horizons. to get things done. It could be at any level or include a combination  of them. initial discussions for launching projects. etc.000 ft.

Formats: Overview list of all projects. whenever  next- action contents are not current (Gracie’s Gardens: “Set up wholesale division. a fun.  action folders or bins (e.Formats:  Off- sites with partners. annual  goal- setting  and broad planning sessions. ideal scene  development. finalize Acme contract. or ga ni za tion charts.) 20. – Projects.” etc. board.000 ft. interesting. – Goals and objectives.) Runway – Actions.g. errands. attracting discriminating clientele who love to spend time and money on an on-going basis. whenever a question about what to do next (Gracie’s Gardens: “Draft plan for wholesale division. any single action to take about anything Formats: Calendar. initial discussions for launching projects. direction. . creative.  ). Important spheres of work and life to be  maintained at standards to “keep the engines running.) 10. project checklists Frequency:  Per for mance  reviews. strategic planning.g. upgrade HVAC system. personal lifestyle checklists. finance. wholesale operations. review Acme purchasing history.” etc.  meetings. Next physical. . retail operations.” etc.) 30. PR/marketing. team. informative place to browse and shop. action lists (e. wholesale business established and in the black.” Formats: Job descriptions. e-mail Sandy re: bookkeeper recommendations. talk to boss about . employee manuals. 20% profitability. specifically.  whenever  job  or  life  changes    require reassessment of responsibilities (Gracie’s Gardens: “Executive. Outcomes we want to achieve that require more than one action and which can be completed within a year.  whole enterprises. get the books current. board. life planning. read/review. call Brandon re: lunch meeting.” etc. surf web for competition ads” etc. alignment. visible actions to take on any project or other outcome.  monthly  personal  check- in’s.000 ft. What do we want and need to accomplish. personal trea sure maps Frequency: Whenever additional clarity. bills to pay) Frequency: Multiple times daily. annual revisiting of enterprise direction.  family responsibility designations. life and family planning Frequency: Annually.000 ft. project plans (defined subprojects) Frequency: Weekly review. to make the vision happen? Formats:  Off- sites with partners.) Making It All Work by David Allen—Enhanced CD 11 . and motivation are needed (Gracie’s Gardens: “Recognized as the #1 garden and landscaping store in the tricounty district. — Areas of focus and responsibility. at office. hire director of marketing. family. calls. sales. family. within  the next 12– 24 months. administration. quarterly reviews and recalibrations (Gracie’s Gardens: “By year-end. at home. 15% sales growth. team.

If you have interest in implementing any of the powerful ideas and practical techniques in Making It All and follow the simple instructions for your free GTD-Q assessment. tailored to your assessment score. Your results will be available immediately. Notice what changes and what remains consistent in your scores over time. for the best techniques to move you further into “Captain and Commander” mode. You can take this assessment and in less than five minutes you can get valuable feedback and specific recommendations. com is a great place to start! Go to gtdIQ. gtdIQ. and as often as you like.GTD-Q—What is Yours? Take the free GTD-Q assessment and discover where you are right now on the control and perspective matrix! Visit www. at no cost. The gtd-Q tool and its related support and educational materials is a success builder that will continue to assist you at the game of work and the business of life.gtdiq. Making It All Work by David Allen—Enhanced CD 12 .