Getting Things done summary

Getting things done book cover Print Friendly and PDF
Author: David Allen

A systematic approach to organize your professional and personal life. Originally, built for analog but can be implemented digital.

rating 3.5

What is the book about?

David Allen argues that human brain is only good at thinking ideas or solving problems rather than remembering what to do in the coming months or next day. He emphasizes on writing all your pending task into lists and doing regular reviews.In short, its a project management system.

5 Key take-aways

  • Every task greater than 15 minutes is a project which needs to broken into manageable next action.
  • The weekly review is like a reset button where you close current week and plan for the next week.
  • Use calendar for 100% fixed events like bdays, appointments and don’t fill it with other tasks.
  • Mastering GTD will take time so don’t quit early.

Favourite Quote

The biggest issue for digitally oriented people is that the ease of capturing and storing has generated a write-only syndrome: all they’re doing is capturing information—not actually accessing and using it intelligently



The book is divided into 3 parts.

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Implementation
Part 3: Results

Chapter 1: A New Practice for a New Reality

Three key objectives are:

  1. capturing all the things that might need to get done.
  2. directing yourself to make front-end decisions about all of the “inputs”
  3. curating and coordinating all of that content

▪ you’ll need to get in the habit of keeping nothing on your mind. And the way to do that, as we’ve seen, is not by managing time, managing information, or managing priorities.

▪ Instead, the key to managing all of your stuff is managing your actions

▪ What you do with your time, what you do with information, and what you do with your body and your focus relative to your priorities—those are the real options to which you must allocate your limited resources

▪ real problem:

  1. a lack of clarity
  2. definition about what a project really is
  3. What are the required next-action steps.

▪ Problem: People are focused only on commitments on a day-to-day level. solution: See the big picture.

▪ You need to control commitments, projects, and actions in two ways—horizontally and vertically

▪ I don’t want to waste time thinking about things more than once

▪ Your conscious mind, like the computer screen, is a focusing tool, not a storage place

▪ A big problem is that your mind keeps reminding you of things when you can’t do anything about them. It has no sense of past or future.

Chapter 2: Five Steps of Mastering Workflow

The 5 Steps:

  1. Capture: what has our attention
  2. Clarify: what each item means and what to do about it;
  3. Organize: put it where it belongs
  4. reflect on: review frequently
  5. engage with : take Action

▪ Have an In-Tray(physical or digital) to collect incoming letter, documents and ideas.

▪ Aim to minimize the Number of Capture Locations

▪ Empty the Capture Tools Regularly (Review frequently)

▪ You can’t organize what’s incoming—you can only capture it and process it ▪ you organize the actions you’ll need to take based on the decisions.

What is an Actionable item?

Stuff about which something needs to be done

What is next action?

▪The next physical, visible activity that needs to be engaged in, in order to move the current reality of this thing toward completion.

▪ examples: instead of: Call Fred re:
Write: Call Fred re: name and number of the repair shop he mentioned

▪ For non-actionable items, the possible categories are trash, incubation, and reference

What is a project

  • Any desired result that can be accomplished within a year
  • requires more than one action step

▪ You don’t actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it

▪ initially creating a single list of all of them will make it easier to customize your system appropriately.
▪ Then you can sort your projects into different subcategories, based upon different areas of your focus.

What about the reference material.

▪ Reference material should be contained in separate file folders, computer files, notebooks, or binders (details in other system )

When to use reminders

About things that have to happen on a specific day or time, and those about things that just need to get done as soon as possible

What should go in calendar

Calendar should be used only for events that you will do for sure.

▪ Your calendar handles the first type of reminder

  • appointments
  • Day-Specific Information
  • might include directions for appointments
  • No More “Daily To-Do” Lists on the Calendar

▪ If you write something there, it must get done that day or not at all. The only rewriting should be for changed appointments.

Incubation tools

▪ Two kinds of incubation tools that could work for this kind of thing: Someday/Maybe lists and a tickler system

▪ Tickler System A second type of things to incubate are those you don’t want or need to be reminded of until some designated time in the future

Reference Systems

▪ Reference systems

  1. topic-and area-specific storage
  2. general-reference files.

▪ As soon as you conclude an action on your calendar (a meeting, a phone call, the final draft of a report that’s due), to check and see what else remains to be done

▪ The Weekly Review is the time to: Gather and process all your stuff. Review your system. Update your lists. Get clean, clear, current, and complete {: .notice–warning}

Identifying Daily Work: The Threefold Model

  • predefined work: you’re working from your Next Actions lists and calendar—completing tasks that you have previously determined need to be done, or managing your workflow.
  • Doing Work as It Shows Up: interruptions
  • Defining Your Work: entails clearing up your in-tray, your digital messages, and your meeting notes, and breaking down new projects into actionable steps

Reviewing Your Own Work: The Six-Level Model

▪ Priorities should drive your choices. The real question is how to determine them correctly.

▪ Six horizon 5: Purpose and principles Horizon 4: Vision Horizon 3: Goals Horizon 2: Areas of focus and accountabilities Horizon 1: Current projects Ground: Current actions

▪ Current Actions: This is the accumulated list of all the actions you need to take—all

▪ Vision Projecting three to five years into the future generates thinking about bigger categories: organization strategies, environmental trends, career and lifestyle transition circumstances

Chapter 3: Project Planning: 5 Phases

▪ The key ingredients of relaxed control are

  1. clearly defined outcomes (projects) and the next actions required to move them toward closure.
  2. reminders placed in a trusted system that is reviewed regularly
    ▪ Also called horizontal focus.

▪ Your mind goes through five steps to accomplish virtually any task:

1.Defining purpose and principles 2.Outcome visioning 3. Brainstorming 4. Organizing 5. Identifying next actions

▪Your intention is your purpose. your why is your purpose.

▪ Your principles creates the boundaries of your plan

▪ “What will be the result” is your outcome visioning.
Whereas your purpose was the why of your going out to dinner, your vision was an image of the what—of the physical world’s looking, sounding, and feeling the ways that best fulfilled your purpose

▪ What’s a good idea?” is a good question, but only when you’re about 80 percent of the way through your thinking

▪ But what happens if you don’t plan ahead of time? In many cases, crisis.

▪ A great way to think about what your principles are is to complete this sentence: “I would give others totally free rein to do this as long as they..

▪ You may want to begin by asking yourself, “What behavior might undermine what I’m doing, and how can I prevent it?” That will give you a good starting point for defining your standards.

▪ When you focus on something—the vacation you’re going to take, the meeting you’re about to go into, the project you want to launch—that focus instantly creates ideas and thought patterns you wouldn’t have had otherwise

▪ We notice only what matches our internal belief systems and identified contexts.

▪ There is a simple but profound principle that emerges from understanding the way your perceptive filters work: you won’t see how to do it until you see yourself doing it (clarifying outcome ~ important concept)

▪ Constantly define (and redefine) what we’re trying to accomplish on many different levels, and consistently reallocate resources toward getting these tasks complete as effectively and efficiently as possible.

▪ Once you know what you want to happen and why, the how mechanism is brought into play.

▪ When you identify with some picture in your mind that is different from your current reality, you automatically start filling in the gaps, or brainstorming (important concept)

▪ Ideas begin to pop into your head in somewhat random order—little ones, big ones, not-so-good ones, good ones

▪ Brainstorming Key

  • Don’t judge, challenge, evaluate, or criticize.
  • Go for quantity, not quality.
  • Put analysis and organization in the background

▪ Creative thinking doesn’t stop here; it just takes another form

▪ The Basics of Organizing:

  • Identify the significant pieces
  • Sort by (one or more): components
  • sequences priorities

▪ final stage of planning

  • decisions about the allocation
  • reallocation of physical resources to actually get the project moving.

How much of this planning model do you really need to flesh out, and to what degree of detail? The simple answer is, as much as you need to get the project off your mind

Chapter 4: Getting Started: Setting Up the Time, Space, and Tools

▪ An ideal time frame for most people is two whole days, back to back

▪ Implementing the full capturing process can take up to six hours or more

▪ If you work from a home office, obviously that will be your prime location

▪ Don’t Share Space

▪ The structure you incorporate will be extremely important in how you express and implement the process, but it is not a substitute for it.

A great hammer doesn’t make a great carpenter; but a great carpenter will always want to have a great hammer

▪ Besides being fast, the system needs to be fun and easy, current and complete

▪ Keep Your General-Reference Files Immediately at Hand.

▪ Even digitally, it is very helpful to have a visual map sorted in ways that make sense—either by indexes or data groups organized effectively, usually in an alpha format

The biggest issue for digitally oriented people is that the ease of capturing and storing has generated a write-only syndrome: all they’re doing is capturing information—not actually accessing and using it intelligently

5: Capturing: Corralling Your “Stuff”

▪ Physical Gathering The first activity is to search your physical environment for anything that doesn’t permanently belong where it is, the way it is, and put it into your in-tray

▪ Many people also have a “personal supplies” drawer at work containing dental floss, Kleenex, breath mints, and so on

▪ If you can’t physically put something in the in-tray, then write a note with date on a piece of letter-size plain paper to represent it

▪Clarifying requires a very different mind-set than capturing; it’s best to do them separately

▪ Start with Your Desktop

6: Clarifying: Getting “In” to Empty

▪ Clarifying: process of emptying the “In”

▪ Then we establish some working categories such as “Calls,” “Errands,” “Agendas,” “At Computer,” and so on

▪ There are a few basic rules to follow:

  • Process the top item first.
  • Process one item at a time.
  • Never put anything back into “in

▪ It just means “decide what the thing is and what action is required, and then dispatch it accordingly

▪ Many people live in this emergency-scanning mode, always distracted by what’s coming into “in,” and not feeling comfortable if they’re not constantly skimming the contents on their computer or mobile devices

▪ Were they to trust “in” would be totally dealt with every day or two, they wouldn’t be so driven by this need for incessant checking

▪ My suggestion is that you discriminate about whether something is actionable or not

▪ The key here is the regular reviewing and purging of outdated information

▪ Let me remind you here that a less-than- sixty-second, fun-to-use general-reference filing system within reach of where you sit is a mission-critical component of full implementation of this methodology

▪ If you won’t do it now, you likely won’t do it later, either

▪ Do I still have attention on my reference content or system? If so, create a project and next action to unpack that, to get this significant area for you on cruise control

▪ Deciding isn’t really an action, because actions take time, and deciding doesn’t

▪ It’s important that you record the date on everything that you hand off to others

▪ if the action step you’ve identified will not complete the commitment, then you’ll need some stake in the ground to keep reminding you of actions you have pending until you have closure.

7: Organizing: Setting Up the Right Buckets

▪ Your organization system is not something that you’ll necessarily create all at once, in a vacuum

▪ seven primary types of things that you’ll want to keep track of

  • Projects list
  • Project support material
  • Calendar actions
  • Information
  • Next Actions lists
  • A Waiting For list Reference material
  • A Someday/Maybe list

▪ you shouldn’t bother to create some external structuring of the priorities on your lists that you’ll then have to rearrange or rewrite as things change

▪ Calendared action items can be

  • time specific (e.g., “10:00–11:00 meet with Jim”)
  • day specific (“Call Rachel Tuesday to see if she got the proposal”).

▪ Read/Review.” This is still a “list” by my definition, but one that’s more efficiently dealt with by grouping the documents and magazines themselves in a tray and/or portable folder.

▪ If the next action on a service order is to make a call, it should be in a Calls group; if the action step is to review information and input it into the computer, it should be labeled “At Computer

▪ Your resulting @ACTION folder will hold those e-mails that you need to do something about.

▪ Next you can create a folder titled “@WAITING FOR,” which will show up in the same place as the @ACTION folder

▪ Others will simultaneously save only into your universal “Sent Mail” folder. In the latter case, what seems to work best for many is to copy (“cc” or “bcc”) themselves when they delegate via e-mail, and then to put that copy into their “@WAITING FOR” folder.

▪ A complete and current Projects list is the major operational tool for moving from tree-hugging to forest management.

▪ The Projects list is not meant to hold plans or details about your projects themselves, nor should you try to keep it arranged by priority or size or urgency. {: .notice–warning }

▪ The real value of the Projects list lies in the complete review it can provide (at least once a week), ensuring that you have action steps defined for all of your projects and that nothing is slipping through the cracks

▪ There are three primary areas in which you are likely to have “hidden” projects:

  • Current activities
  • Higher-horizon interests and commitments
  • Current problems, issues, and opportunities

▪ Personal/Professional Many people feel more comfortable seeing their lists divided up between personal and professional projects. If you’re among them, be advised that your Personal list will need to be reviewed as judiciously as your Professional one, and not just saved for weekends.

▪ Again, how you decide to group your projects is not nearly as critical as ensuring that your inventory is complete, current, and assessed sufficiently to get it off your mind

▪ No external tool or organizing format is going to be perfect for sorting both horizontally across and vertically down through all your projects; you’ll still have to be aware of the whole in some cohesive way (such as via your Weekly Review {: .notice–warning }

▪ To reiterate, you don’t want to use support materials as your primary reminders of what to do—that should be relegated to your action lists. If

▪ E-mails that might contain good information related to your projects can be held in a dedicated e-mail reference folder, labeled accordingly

▪ If you have a large volume of e-mails related to one project, consider creating two folders: “Johnson Partnership—Active” and “Johnson Partnership—Archive

The inherent danger in the digital world is how much data can be spread into how many different places so easily, without coordinating links.

▪ You’ll also want to clear out many of your notes once they become inactive, unreal, or redundant, to keep the whole system from catching the “stale” virus.

▪ Having good, consistent structures with which to manage the non-actionable items in our work and lives is as important as managing our action and project reminders

▪ Non-actionable items fall into three large categories:

  • reference materials
  • reminders of things that need no action now but might at a later date
  • things that you don’t need at all (trash)

▪ Your reference and filing system should be a simple library of data, easily retrievable—not your reminder for actions, projects, priorities, or prospects

▪ You need to feel comfortable storing even a single piece of paper that you might want to refer to later, or an article you read online, and your general-reference system must be informal and accessible enough that it’s a snap to file something away, right at hand where you do your work and personal administration and review. If you’re not set up that way yet, look back at chapter 4 for help on this topic

▪ When you read a great article about wood fencing and want to keep it, does that go in your Garden cabinet or in the general system with other information about home-related projects? As a rule, it’s best to stick with one general-reference system except for a very limited number of discrete topics

▪ Do you see how that personal organization of reference material is simply a logistical and purpose-based one

▪ You are better off starting with real information you want to keep, deciding the best place to put it so it’s retrievable, and crafting that from the ground up than trying to choose or design a system theoretically

▪ You will definitely hone your reference libraries into a larger, more sensible framework as time goes on, but that will best be built from upgrading how you’re managing your day-to-day realities

▪ Tolerate some ambiguity here, in terms of figuring out the best way to do it all. The key will be some regular overviewing and reassessment of your system, and dynamically course-correcting as needed

▪ Activating and maintaining your Someday/Maybe category unleashes the flow of your creative thinking—you have permission to imagine cool things to do without having to commit to doing anything about them yet

▪ We’re likely to seize opportunities when they arise if we’ve already identified and captured them as a possibility. That has certainly been my own experience: learning to play the flute and how to sail in the open ocean started in this category for me

▪ Make an Inventory of Your Creative Imaginings What are the things you really might want to do someday if you have the time, money, and inclination? Write them on your Someday/Maybe list. Typical categories include: Things to get or build for your home Hobbies to take up Skills to learn Creative expressions to explore Clothes and accessories to buy Toys (hi-tech and otherwise!) to acquire Trips to take Organizations to join Service projects to contribute to Things to see and do

▪ Now’s a good time to review your Projects list from a more elevated perspective (that is, the standpoint of your job, goals, and personal commitments) and consider whether you might transfer some of your current commitments to Someday/Maybe. If on reflection you realize that an optional project doesn’t have a chance of getting your attention for the next few months or more, move it to this list

▪ People have at times found it useful even to subcategorize their Someday/Maybe projects

▪ Special Categories of Someday/Maybe More than likely you have some special interests that involve lots of possible things to do. It can be fun to collect these on lists. For instance: Food—recipes, menus, restaurants, wines Children—things to do with them Books to read Music to download Movies to see Gift ideas Web sites to explore Weekend trips to take

▪ Ideas—Misc. (meaning you don’t know where else to put them)

▪ One of the three uses of a calendar is for day-specific information

▪ consider inserting: Triggers for activating projects Events you might want to participate in Decision catalysts

▪ If you have a project that you don’t really need to think about now but that deserves a flag at some point in the future, you can pick an appropriate date and put a reminder about the project in your calendar for that day

▪ Decision Catalysts Once in a while there may be a significant decision that you need to make but can’t (or don’t want to) right away

▪ But in order to move to a level of OK-ness about not deciding, you’d better put out a safety net that you can trust to get you to focus on the issue appropriately in the future. A calendar reminder can serve that purpose

▪ Checklists can be highly useful to let you know what you don’t need to be concerned about

▪ And if you’ve just been hired into a new position, with new responsibilities that are relatively unfamiliar to you, you’ll want a framework of control and structure, if only for the first few months

▪ To spark your creative thinking, here’s a list of some of the topics of checklists I’ve seen and used over the years:

  • Job Areas of Responsibility (key responsibility areas)
  • Exercise Regimens (muscle resistance training programs)
  • Travel Checklist (everything to take on or do before a trip)
  • Weekly Review (everything to review and/or update on a weekly basis) Training Program Components (all the things to handle when putting on an event, front to back)
  • Key Clients People to Stay in Touch With (all the people you might want to connect with in your network)
  • Year-end Activities (all the actions for closing up for the time period) Personal Development (things to evaluate regularly to ensure personal balance and progress)
  • Jokes

▪ Appropriately used, checklists can be a tremendous asset in enhancing personal productivity and relieving mental pressure

Chapter 8: Reflecting: Keeping It All Fresh and Functional

▪ There are two major issues that need to be handled at this point: What do you look at in all this, and when? What do you need to do, and how often, to ensure that all of it works as a consistent system, freeing you to think and manage at a higher level

▪ When you need to pick up something at the dry cleaner, first quickly review all the other errands that you might be able to do en route.

▪ Look at Your Calendar First

▪ Knowing that you have nonstop meetings from eight a.m. to six p.m., for example, with barely a half-hour break for lunch, will help you make necessary decisions about any other activities

▪ Then Your Action Lists

▪ Frankly, if your calendar is trustworthy and your action lists are current, they may be the only things in the system you’ll need to refer to more than every couple of days.

▪ You won’t be able to fool yourself about this: if your system is out of date, your brain will be forced to fully engage again at the lower level of remembering. (update regularly )

▪ You’re going to have to learn to say no—faster, and to more things—in order to stay afloat and comfortable

▪ Very simply, the Weekly Review is whatever you need to do to get your head empty again and get oriented for the next couple of weeks

▪ From a practical standpoint, here is the three-part drill that can get you there:

  • get clear
  • get current
  • get creative

▪ Collect Loose Papers and Materials

▪ Get “In” to Empty Review any meeting notes and miscellaneous scribbles on notepaper or in your mobile devices

▪ Be ruthless with yourself, processing all notes and thoughts relative to interactions, projects, new initiatives, and input that have come your way since your last download, and purging those not needed

▪ Review

  • “Next Actions” -> Lists Mark off completed actions
  • Previous Calendar Data Review
  • Upcoming Calendar

▪ Capture actions about projects and preparations required for upcoming events

▪ Review “Waiting For” List Any needed follow-up

▪ Review “Projects” (and “Larger Outcome”) Lists

▪ Review Any Relevant Checklists Is

▪ The challenge is not to be creative—it’s to eliminate the barriers to the natural flow of our creative energies

▪ I recommend that you block out two hours early in the afternoon of your last workday for the review

The people who find it hardest to make time for this review are those who have constantly on-demand work and home environments, with zero built-in time or space for regrouping.

▪ As you increase the speed and agility with which you clear the Ground and Horizon 1 levels of your life and work, be sure to revisit the other levels you’re engaged in, as needed, to maintain a truly clear head

▪ How long does it take to change a goal or picture of what you want? Not much time, if any. How long will it take you to feel confident that you can deliver to yourself the outcomes you commit to? My experience is that it will be at least two years of implementing and habituating this methodology to get to that level of self-confidence

Chapter 9: Engaging: Making the Best Action Choices

▪ The four-criteria model for choosing actions in the moment

▪ You choose action based on:

  • Context
  • Time available
  • Energy available
  • Priority

▪ Although you can increase your energy level at times by changing your context and redirecting your focus, you can do only so much

▪ I recommend that you always keep an inventory of things that need to be done that require very little mental or creative horsepower. When you’re in one of those low-energy states (eg. backing up pc) , do those things.

▪ It’s easy to get seduced into “busy” and “urgent” mode, especially when you have a lot of unprocessed and relatively out-of-control work on your desk, in your e-mail, and on your mind

▪ But the angst begins to mount when the other actions on your lists are not reviewed and renegotiated by you or between you and everyone else

▪ That requires regular processing of your in-tray (defining your work) and consistent review of complete lists of all your predetermined work.

▪ So how do you decide? This again will involve your intuitive judgments—how important is the unexpected work, against all the rest

▪ People often complain about the interruptions that prevent them from doing their work. But interruptions are unavoidable in life

▪ And ultimately, in order to know whether you should stop what you’re doing and do something else, you’ll need to have a good sense of all your roles and how they fit together in a larger context. The only way you can have that is to evaluate your life and work appropriately at multiple horizons

▪ What do you need to handle in your current roles at the office? What’s pushing you to change or attracting you to create in the next months or years? These are all open loops in your head, though often it takes deeper and more introspective processes to identify the bigger goals and subtler inclinations

▪ Working from the Bottom Up

▪ I can honestly say that getting someone in control of the details of his or her current physical world, and then elevating the focus from there, has never missed

▪ I have learned over the years that the most important thing to deal with is whatever is most on your mind

▪ Once you handle what has your attention, it frees you up to notice what really has your attention

▪ it takes ten to fifteen hours of capturing, clarifying, and organizing to get to the point of trusting the thoroughness of their inventory

▪ The operational purpose of the Areas of Focus list is to ensure that you have all your projects and next actions defined, so you can manage your responsibilities appropriately

▪ A discussion of priorities would have to incorporate all of these levels of current agreements between you and others

▪ but it’s more about “What is true right now about where I’ve decided I’m going and how I’m going to get there?” This can range from one-year goals in your job (Horizon 3) to a three-year vision for your career and personal net worth (Horizon 4) to intuiting your life purpose and how to maximize its expression (Horizon 5)

If you were to intuitively frame a picture of what you think you might be doing twelve to eighteen months from now, or what the nature of your job will look like at that point, what would that trigger? At this level, which is subtler, there may be things personally you need to let go of, and people and systems that may need to be developed to allow the transition. And as the job itself is a moving target, given the shifting sands of the professional world these days, there may need to be projects defined to ensure viability of the outputs in your area

▪ In the personal arena, this is where you would want to consider things like: “My career is going to stagnate unless I assert my own goals more specifically to my boss [or my boss’s boss]

▪ Or “What preparation do I need to ensure that I can deal with this health problem we’ve just uncovered.

▪ Questions to ask are:

  • What are the longer-term goals and objectives in my organization, and what projects do I need to have in place related to them to fulfill my responsibilities?
  • What longer-term goals and objectives have I set for myself,
  • what projects do I need to have in place to make them happen?
  • What other significant things are happening that could affect my options about what I’m doing

Chapter 10: Getting Projects Under Control

▪ You need to set up systems and tricks that get you to think about your projects and situations more frequently, more easily, and more in depth

▪ There are two types of projects, however, that deserve at least some sort of planning activity:

  1. those that still have your attention even after you’ve determined their next actions
  2. those about which potentially useful ideas and supportive detail just show up ad hoc

▪ I suggest, however, that the value of smartphones and the like is for the execution of the results of thinking—not for generating creative thought.

  • For that I want more space, not less . ▪ If you don’t have a good system for storing bad ideas, you probably don’t have one for filing good ones, either

▪ A good general-reference filing system, right at hand and easy to use, is not only critical to manage the general workflow process, but highly functional for project thinking as well

▪ We tend to think differently when we express with different equipment, and many people find that writing and drawing by hand unwraps a broader palette of ideas

▪ The two types of software that tend to be more useful for informal planning and brainstorming are mind-mapping and outlining applications

▪ Make sure you create comfort with the applications, so you can focus more on your project thinking than on the software

▪ That done, give yourself a block of time, ideally between one and three hours, to handle as much of the vertical thinking about each project as you can

▪ The key is to get comfortable with having and using your ideas. And to acquire the habit of focusing your energy constructively, on intended outcomes and open loops, before you have to

Chapter 11: The Power of the Capturing 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

▪ The price people pay when they break an agreement in the world is the disintegration of trust in the relationship—an automatic negative consequence

▪ How Do You Prevent Broken Agreements with Yourself? If the negative feelings come from broken agreements, you have three options for dealing with them and eliminating the negative consequences: Don’t make the agreement. Complete the agreement. Renegotiate the agreement

▪ One of your better weekends may be spent just finishing up a lot of little errands and tasks that have accumulated around your house and in your personal life

A renegotiated agreement is not a broken one

▪ Anything that is held only in your head will take up either more or less attention than it deserves. The reason to collect everything is not that everything is equally important; it’s that it’s not. Incompletions, uncaptured, take on a dull sameness in the sense of the pressure they create and the attention they tie up

▪ I suggest that you use your mind to think about things, rather than think of them.

Chapter 12: The Power of the Next-Action Decision

▪ It’s really the smartest and most sensitive people who have the highest number of undecided things in their lives and on their lists. Why is that? Think of how our bodies respond to the images we hold in our minds. It appears that the nervous system can’t tell the difference between a well-imagined thought and reality.

▪ Everything on your lists and in your stacks is either attractive or repulsive to you—there’s no neutral ground when it comes to your stuff

▪ concomitant (an event or situation that happens at the same time as or in connection with another syn : accompaniment, concomitant, attendant, co-occurrence)

Chapter 13: The Power of Outcome Focusing

▪ Employing next-action decision making results in clarity, productivity, accountability, and empowerment. Exactly the same results happen when you hold yourself to the discipline of identifying the real results you want and, more specifically, the projects you need to define in order to produce them

▪ The challenge will continually be to apply the two essential elements of this art: defining what done means and what doing looks like

▪ An idealist believes that the short run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run {: .notice-warning}

Chapter 14: GTD and Cognitive Science

▪ Because of the way the mind developed, it is brilliant at recognition, but terrible at recall

Chapter 15: The Path of GTD Mastery

▪ GTD has 3 stages

    1. Employing the fundamentals of managing workflow;
    1. Implementing a more elevated and integrated total life management system;
    1. Leveraging skills to create clear space and get things done for an ever-expansive expression and manifestation

▪ it’s as easy to get back into your productive groove as it may have been to get knocked out of it.

  • It simply requires revisiting the basics: -Get a pen and paper and empty your head again; clean up your lists of actions and projects; identify and add new projects and next actions to bring your lists current; clean up what’s leaked outside your system

▪ Similarly, when you reach a certain level of maturity with the GTD process, you won’t be as focused on the system itself or how you’re working it, but will utilize it in more flexible, customized ways, as your trusted tool to facilitate control and focus over longer and larger spans.

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