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How to Get the Right Things Done w/ David Allen [Episode 483]

How do you know you are investing your time wisely? In this episode, we find the answer, and much more.

David Allen, Founder of David Allen Company, and author of three bestselling books, including the all-time classic, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity, joins me on this episode.


David defines productivity two ways. The first is that you are producing the experience you are having. The second, is in improving the quantity or quality of an experience, by being more efficient, and/or more selective in what you produce.

The 24/7 availability of ‘all the stuff’ has built an easily distracted world. However, humans have always sought distraction from hard, challenging activities. The distractions are now in a digital form.

David explains how to know what is done. You must define what ‘done’ means, and what ‘doing’ looks like, and where it happens. Know when you can mark an item as ‘done.’ Then, know what is the next action to take about it.

Things on your mind that worry you, are unproductive and exhausting. While they are on your mind, they are not getting done. So, start to notice what has your attention.

Think about your client (steps you will), not of your client (worry). Getting things done is about being appropriately engaged with your life, so you can be present with whatever you are doing. Have your head totally clear.

Get everything out of your head and on pen and paper, into a collection bucket, such as an in-tray, to clear every 24 to 48 hours. Carry a notepad and a pen. Or go digital. Just get it recorded where you will find it. David cites a five-step process. The first driver when you open email or notes is to determine if there is any action you need to take. If no, trash it, save it for reference, or park it for potential future action. If yes, decide the next action to take, or if it is part of a project.

David says, good luck, to relying only on a calendar. Life is full of interruptions. Write down what you need to do when it occurs to you, and it may not fit on your calendar.

Having a clear mind allows you to focus and be present with what you are doing, allowing you to get more done of the things you want to do.

David has a test to choose the next physical action. Most people procrastinate because they don’t know the next action to take. Make sure you know it. Set a time to do it.

Each task has many small steps. Don’t plan past the next action, or you could go in the wrong direction. Thinking is required. “Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.” — Henri Bergson

David’s latest book edition has not changed in its methodology, but the breadth of the audience that needs it has grown. Because of the digital onslaught, and the stress of opportunity, there is more need than ever for clear thought.

The Sales Enablement Podcast with Andy Paul was formerly Accelerate! with Andy Paul.