Imagine a world where you are productive, and your to-do list isn't overflowing with scary tasks. That sounds dreamy, doesn't it? By rewording the way that you write out your list of things to do, you can accomplish a whole lot more in less time.
I bought a book titled Getting Things Done by David Allen, and it positively impacted my daily life. He is the world's leading productivity consultant, best known as the creator of the time-management method known as Getting Things Done. I recently had a chat with David, and he reminded me that my brain is for having ideas, not holding them.
I've preached his methodology to anyone who complains that they have an overflowing list of things to do and not enough hours in the day. While chatting with David, I got a bit of insight into his world, and some advice for entrepreneurs worldwide.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
My own self-doubt, I guess. I asked myself, "Can I do this? Is it something unique? Can I stand behind this thing?" So I think a lot of it had to do with trusting myself, which is an issue we all have at some level. I realized that what I had to offer was unique and bulletproof, but it just took me a long time to get to that point. I had no idea I'd be able to start doing what I was doing until I was 35 or 38.
How did you overcome that fear or that self-doubt?
Butt in chair, boot computer, start writing. My success in coaching people is that I keep the same phone number and don't mess up. A lot of it I had to build over time. It was not some immediate overnight major success.
Why aren't people able to be productive and manage their time well?
The first mistake is people keep stuff in their head. Your head is a crappy office! Building the external brain is a whole lot of what GTD is about. Your brain was not designed to remember and remind. That's not it's function and most people are still using it for that, and it doesn't work.
The biggest need that most people have professionally is reflection time. You need to step back and take a look at everything you have done. So, the weekly review is something that's a big part of the GTD process. Once a week, take a step back, get your head wrapped around any new realities that occurred, and see things from a higher perspective.
If you are hung up about stuff and you're taking home to work and work to home, it makes it hard to be creative, hard to be present while doing things like watching your girls play soccer.
Why do people fail to execute?
One of the reason is they haven't determined what execution looks like.
What resources do you recommend for those trying to make a change?
There are two books on cognitive science that have come out in the past couple of years that basically validate the GTD process. One is called Brain Chains, by a Belgium researcher who has compiled a lot of the research about how our brains work and how they don't work. The other is called The Organized Mind, by Dan Levitin, and it's about how to build the external brain. If anybody is interested in the scientific validation of getting stuff out of your head, those are great books.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Well, I think the visual arts are still a hidden talent that I haven't tapped yet. My cravings right now are to do a lot more drawing and painting. Doing something that would perhaps pass into another level of my expression would be nice.
What advice do you have for readers?
Relax and start to trust your inner wisdom. Be willing to let go and not try to control things so much.
Bringing it all together
Want to do yourself a favor to ensure you accomplish your goals this year? Grab a copy of David Allen's book and put his methodology to work. It will help you to get your life under control and get more accomplished. Don't worry -- you can thank me later.