Getting Things Done by David Allen Part 3

by Ron Haynes

Getting Things Done by David Allen Part 3

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

This is the third and final section of the book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.. Section 3 is titled The Power of the Key Principles and it starts by discussion of the power of the collection habit and how it helps you in your time management process.

Chapter 11
When people see that you are efficient and your time is managed and organized in all aspects of your life, they will begin to trust that you will handle things in an “airtight” way. Their trust in you goes up because they know that without fail, you will receive, organize, and process everything for maximum productivity.

You will also notice a decline in the stress on your own life when you begin to realize that you have a systematic method to keep your mind free from the distractions of trying to remember everything.

Most people begin the collection process with a little anxiety. That, says David Allen, is natural. After all, it can be an overwhelming and tiring process. Add that you haven’t managed your time effectively in the past and you might say, “I just don’t have the time to do that.” Throw in a dose of disgust for letting things get this out of control and you can begin to generate some negative emotions. Allen theorizes that these negative emotions stem from a lack of self-trust. All those items floating around in your mental and physical IN box represent agreements that you haven’t kept and it can result in guilt.

How to resolve the guilt? Use the GTD system! A better question would be how do I prevent broken agreements in the first place? You have three options:

Don’t make the agreement in the first place. It probably felt good to throw some things in the trash, didn’t it? One way to handle things is to just say NO! That is a viable option. You have to know yourself and know what you’re able to do without lowering your standards. If you’re up to your eyeballs in projects already and someone wants you to head up the company picnic, saying no is a good option.
Finish it to completion. I personally don’t think anything feels better than finishing a project. I know that when I finished my MBA, the relief I felt was evident to everyone around me. Finishing what you start is a morale boost. How would YOU feel if your entire list, the whole enchilada, was successfully and totally completed? You’d probably be filled with joy, enthusiasm, and creative energy. But less than three days later, you’d have another list, because according to Allen,

The better you get, the better you’d better get!

Renegotiate the agreement. Bear in mind that you cannot renegotiate agreements you can’t remember. That’s the power of the collection process! There are usually little voices in your head that have been telling you for 2 years to clean out that closet and you really mean to, but other things have come up in the meantime. To get those little voices to shut up, you’ll have to lower your standards and forget about the closet, clean the closet, or move “Clean Out the Closet” to your “Maybe Someday” stack of stuff.

How would it play out at work if everyone could be 100% trusted to follow through on their commitments by implementing the Getting Things Done system? Those who didn’t would stick out like a sore thumb! Allen likens it to bailing water out of a boat. If you’re doing that, your energies are not focused on rowing the boat.

“Organizations must create a culture in which it is acceptable that everyone has more to do than he or she can do, and in which it is sage [wise] to renegotiate agreements about what everyone is not doing.”

Chapter 12
This chapter is titled The Power of the Next Action Decision and Allen says that when organizations and individuals adopt a “what’s our next action” culture, it produces energy, productivity, clarity, and focus. What would your personal life and work life look like with more of those traits?

People, me included, usually know what the next action step is, so take the ten seconds or so that is necessary and DO IT! Becoming a person of action will be a freeing step in become the most productive person you can be. Of all the techniques Allen lists in this book, this is one that we can all continually get better at performing.

Becoming intensely action orienting will result in your life having more clarity, accountability, empowerment, focus, and that wonderful feeling of having another mark in your “win” column.

Chapter 13
The Power of Outcome Focusing has been studied and promoted in thousands of different ways, from the old days of “positive thinking” to modern advancements in neuropsychology. The big question is does it work. If the answer is yes, how can we use it to better our lives?

The importance of outcome thinking is that when you visualize success, you think of ways to make it happen. You can’t really define the next action until you define the desired outcome, can you?

”The challenge is to marry high-level idealistic focus to the mundane activity of life. In the end they require the same thinking.”

The power of the planning process (see chapter 3) is a part of outcome focused planning. Be comfortable with challenging the purpose of anything. Be comfortable with imagining successful outcomes. Be comfortable with brainstorming for new, fresh, innovative ideas without criticizing them right off the bat. Be comfortable honing these ideas into a workable, organized plan. Finally, be comfortable with deciding the next action step – and then take that step!

Overall review

This book started out by showing me that many of the time management and organization techniques I’ve used and been taught over the years were incomplete at best and worthless at worst. I’ve learned that I need to implement this system and I believe it will finally be the system that I can stick with.

How many times have YOU started January 1 with all the best intentions to get and stay “organized” without really knowing what “organized” meant? Those days are over if you and I are willing to use David Allen’s system of Getting Things Done.

I fully recommend that you buy this book. You can do so by using the link above. But don’t just buy it, read it, ponder it, adapt it to your life and situation and I believe you will find that organization will set you free.

Let’s use some of David Allen’s terminology on the word “free.” What does free look like? What does free mean? To me it means that I’m not constantly running around trying to remember everything I have to do. It means that I can play with my son or daughters without constantly thinking about everything I have to do for this blog and at work. I t means I can take a vacation without worrying that I’ll come back to the same great big pile of stuff and be overwhelmed for 3 straight days, wishing I had never left. That’s what freedom means to me where it concerns time management and personal organization.

How about you?

Notes: I discovered that Trent at The Simple Dollar did a review of this book. He did a fantastic job and I encourage everyone to read his review and his blog.

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1001 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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