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GTD

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Review

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. More significantly, you incorporate a level of self-confidence in your engagement with your world that money cannot buy.

I had read the previous edition a decade ago, and I remember thinking that the system was far too complicated for my needs. Ten years later I seem to have cobbled together something very similar to 'GTD'.

The basic habit of pushing everything into an inbox and out of my mind, making sure that everything on my todo list is an action, using ticklers; these have all been very useful over the years, and have become second nature by now.

You can fool everyone else, but you can’t fool your own mind. It knows whether or not you’ve come to the conclusions you need to, and whether you’ve put the resulting outcomes and action reminders in a place that can be trusted to resurface appropriately within your conscious mind.* If you haven’t done those things, it won’t quit working overtime. Even if you’ve already decided on the next step you’ll take to resolve a problem, your mind can’t let go until and unless you park a reminder in a place it knows you will, without fail, look. It will keep pressuring you about that untaken next step, usually when you can’t do anything about it, which will just add to your stress.

I was reminded about the two-minute rule:

Even if the item is not a high-priority one, do it now if you’re ever going to do it at all. The rationale for the two-minute rule is that it’s more or less the point where it starts taking longer to store and track an item than to deal with it the first time it’s in your hands—in other words, it’s the efficiency cutoff. If the thing’s not important enough to be done, throw it away. If it is, and if you’re going to do it sometime, the efficiency factor should come into play. The two-minute rule is magic.

On the first read of the book I had somehow missed that the focus was on reducing stress, not on getting more done. The main goal is to get everything out of your mind, then allow yourself to make intuitive judgments on what to do next – taking into account motivation, time available, context, etc.

As I’ve said, 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. Attempting to impose such scaffolding has been a big source of frustration in many people’s organizing. You’ll be prioritizing more intuitively as you see the whole list against quite a number of shifting variables. The list is just a way for you to keep track of the total inventory of active things to which you have made a commitment, and to have that inventory available for review.

This paragraph stood out to me, since I have been heavily into pre-planning tasks for the day, prioritising, adding arbitrary deadlines, etc. to ensure I get things done. Some days this can feel stressful, so it was good to be reminded that giving myself space to work on whatever task makes sense in the moment might make me happier and more productive. (I do worry about execution though – need to find a balance)

I am glad I re-read this rather than reading another time management / productivity book (I read too many – there are quickly diminishing returns after the first couple.)

Highlights

loc: 258 this book is not so much concerned with getting things done as it is championing appropriate engagement with your world—guiding you to make the best choice of what to do in each moment, and to eliminate distraction and stress about what you’re not doing.

loc: 366 Executives at the top are looking to instill a standard of ruthless execution in themselves, their staffs, and their cultures,

> Ruthless. Execution.

loc: 393 The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 describes the whole game, providing a brief overview of the system and an explanation of why it’s unique and timely, and then presenting the basic methodologies themselves in their most condensed and basic form. Part 2 shows you how to implement the system. It’s your personal coaching, step by step, on the nitty-gritty application of the models. Part 3 goes even deeper, describing the subtler and more profound results you can expect when you incorporate the methodologies and models into your work and your life.

A New Practice for a New Reality

Page: 11 Reflect for a moment on what it actually might be like if your personal management situation were totally under control, at all levels and at all times. What if you had completely clear mental space, with nothing pulling or pushing on you unproductively? What if you could dedicate fully 100 percent of your attention to whatever was at hand, at your own choosing, with no distraction?

Page: 14 You’ve probably made many more agreements with yourself than you realize, and every single one of them—big or little—is being tracked by a less-than-conscious part of you. These are the “incompletes,” or “open loops,” which I define as anything pulling at your attention that doesn’t belong where it is, the way it is. Open loops can include everything from really big to-do items like “End world hunger” to the more modest “Hire new assistant” to the tiniest task such as “Replace porch lightbulb.”

Page: 14 First of all, if it’s on your mind, your mind isn’t clear. Anything you consider unfinished in any way must be captured in a trusted system outside your mind, or what I call a collection tool, that you know you’ll come back to regularly and sort through. Second, you must clarify exactly what your commitment is and decide what you have to do, if anything, to make progress toward fulfilling it.

Page: 16 People think a lot, but most of that thinking is of a problem, project, or situation—not about it. If you actually did this suggested exercise, you were required to structure your thinking toward an outcome and an action, and that does not usually happen without a consciously focused effort. Reacting is automatic, but thinking is not.

Page: 16 Most people have a resistance to initiating the burst of energy that it will take to clarify the real meaning, for them, of something they have let into their world, and to decide what they need to do about it. We’re never really taught that we have to think about our work before we can do it; much of our daily activity is already defined for us by the undone and unmoved things staring at us when we come to work, or by the family to be fed, the laundry to be done, or the children to be dressed at home. Thinking in a concentrated manner to define desired outcomes and requisite next actions is something few people feel they have to do (until they have to). But in truth, it is the most effective means available for making wishes a reality.

> !

Page: 17 You can fool everyone else, but you can’t fool your own mind. It knows whether or not you’ve come to the conclusions you need to, and whether you’ve put the resulting outcomes and action reminders in a place that can be trusted to resurface appropriately within your conscious mind.* If you haven’t done those things, it won’t quit working overtime. Even if you’ve already decided on the next step you’ll take to resolve a problem, your mind can’t let go until and unless you park a reminder in a place it knows you will, without fail, look. It will keep pressuring you about that untaken next step, usually when you can’t do anything about it, which will just add to your stress.

> !!

Page: 18 Here’s how I define “stuff”: anything you have allowed into your psychological or physical world that doesn’t belong where it is, but for which you haven’t yet determined what, exactly, it means to you, with the desired outcome and the next action step. The reason most organizing systems haven’t worked for most people is that they haven’t yet transformed all the stuff they’re trying to organize. As long as it’s still stuff, it’s not controllable.

Page: 21 Intellectually, the most appropriate way ought to be to work from the top down, first uncovering personal and organizational purpose and vision, then defining critical objectives, and finally focusing on the details of implementation. The trouble is, however, that most people are so embroiled in commitments on a day-to-day level that their ability to focus successfully on the larger horizon is seriously impaired. Consequently, a bottom-up approach is usually more effective.

Page: 23 As you’ll discover, the individual behaviors described in this book are things you’re already doing. The big difference between what I do and what others do is that I capture and organize 100 percent of my stuff in and with objective tools at hand, not in my mind. And that applies to everything—little or big, personal or professional, urgent or not. Everything.

Getting Control of Your Life: The Five Steps of Mastering Workflow

Page: 27 We (1) capture what has our attention; (2) clarify what each item means and what to do about it; (3) organize the results, which presents the options we (4) reflect on, which we then choose to (5) engage with. This constitutes the management of the horizontal aspect of our lives, incorporating everything that we need to consider at any time, as we move forward moment to moment.

> Horizontal is sub project level

Page: 30 Capture It’s important to know what needs to be captured and how to do that most effectively so you can process it appropriately. In order for your mind to let go of the lower-level task of trying to hang on to everything, you have to know that you have truly captured everything that might represent something you have to do or at least decide about, and that at some point in the near future you will process and review all of it.

> The trust in the system is important

Page: 33

  • Every open loop must be in your capture system and out of your head.
  • You must have as few capturing buckets as you can get by with.
  • You must empty them regularly.

> For email: inbox zero

Page: 33 Keep everything in your head or out of your head. If it’s in between, you won’t trust either one.

Page: 35 In order to get “in” to empty, however, an integrated life-management system must be in place. Too much stuff is left piled in in-trays (physical and digital) because of a lack of effective systems “downstream” from there. It often seems easier to leave things in “in” when you know you have to do something about them but can’t do it right then. The in-tray, especially for paper and e-mail, is the best that many people can do in terms of organization—at least they know that somewhere in there is a reminder of something they still have to do.

Page: 38 Two things need to be determined about each actionable item: 1) What “project” or outcome have you committed to? and 2) What’s the next action required?

Page: 38 If It’s About a Project … You need to capture that outcome on a “Projects” list. That will be the stake in the ground that will keep reminding you that you have an open loop until it is finished. A Weekly Review of the list (see page 50) will bring this item back to you as something that’s still outstanding. It will stay fresh and alive in your management system (versus your head) until it is completed or eliminated.

Page: 38 What’s the Next Action? This is the critical question for anything you’ve captured; if you answer it appropriately, you’ll have the key substantive thing to organize. The “next action” is the next physical, visible activity that needs to be engaged in, in order to move the current reality of this thing toward completion.

Page: 39 Do It, Delegate It, or Defer It Once you’ve decided on the next action, you have three options: 1. Do it. If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it is defined. 2. Delegate it. If the action will take longer than two minutes, ask yourself, Am I the right person to do this? If the answer is no, delegate it to the appropriate entity. 3. Defer it, If the action will take longer than two minutes, and you are the right person to do it, you will have to defer acting on it until later and track it on one or more “Next Actions” lists.

Page: 41 define a project as any desired result that can be accomplished within a year that requires more than one action step. This means that some rather small things you might not normally call projects are going to be on your Projects list, as well as some big ones. The reasoning behind my definition is that if one step won’t complete something, some kind of goalpost needs to be set up to remind you that there’s something still left to do. If you don’t have a placeholder to remind you about it, it will slip back into your head.

Page: 44 No More “Daily To-Do” Lists on the Calendar Those three things are what go on the calendar, and nothing else! This might be heresy to past-century time-management training, which almost universally taught that the daily to-do list is key. But such lists embedded on a calendar don’t work, for two reasons.

> !!!

Page: 44 constant new input and shifting tactical priorities reconfigure daily work so consistently that it’s virtually impossible to nail down to-do items ahead of time. Having a working game plan as a reference point is always useful, but it must be able to be renegotiated at any moment. Trying to keep a list on the calendar, which must then be reentered on another day if items don’t get done, is demoralizing and a waste of time. The Next Actions lists I advocate will hold all of those action reminders, even the most time-sensitive ones.

Page: 44 Second, if there’s something on a daily to-do list that doesn’t absolutely have to get done that day, it will dilute the emphasis on the things that truly do. If I have to call Mioko on Friday because that’s the only day I can reach her, but then I add five other, less important or less time-sensitive calls to my to-do list, when the day gets crazy I may never call Mioko. My brain will have to take back the reminder that that’s the one phone call I won’t get another chance at.

Page: 45 the calendar should be sacred territory. If you write something there, it must get done that day or not at all. The only rewriting should be for changed appointments.

Page: 45 there’s absolutely nothing wrong with creating a quick, informal, short list of “if I have time, I’d really like to …” kinds of things, picked from your Next Actions inventory. It just should not be confused with your “have-tos,” and it should be treated lightly enough to discard or change quickly as the inevitable surprises of the day unfold.

Page: 45 So where do your entire action reminders go? On Next Actions lists, which, along with the calendar, are at the heart of daily action-management organization and orientation. Any longer-than-two-minute, non-delegatable action you have identified needs to be tracked somewhere.

Page: 46 Someday/Maybe It can be useful and inspiring to maintain an ongoing list of things you might want to do at some point but not now. This is the “parking lot” for projects that would be impossible to move on at present but that you don’t want to forget about entirely. You’d like to be reminded of the possibility at regular intervals. […] These items are of the nature of “projects I might want to do, but not now … but I’d like to be reminded of them regularly.” You must review this list periodically if you’re going to get the most value from it. I suggest you include a scan of the contents in your Weekly Review

Page: 47 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. A most elegant version of holding for review of this nature is the tickler file, sometimes also referred to as a “suspense,” “follow-on,” or “perpetual” file. This is a system that allows you to almost literally mail something to yourself, for receipt on some designated date in the future.

Page: 49 If your reference material doesn’t have nice clean edges to it, the line between actionable and nonactionable items will blur, visually and psychologically, and your mind will go numb to the whole business. Establishing a good working system for this category of material is critical to ensuring stress-free productivity;

Page: 50 After checking your calendar, you’ll most often turn to your Next Action lists. These hold the inventory of predefined actions that you can take if you have any discretionary time during the day. If you’ve organized them by context (At Home; At Computer; In Meeting with George) they’ll come into play only when those contexts are available.

Page: 51 All of your Projects, active project plans, and Next Actions, Agendas, Waiting For, and even Someday/Maybe lists should be reviewed once a week. This also gives you an opportunity to ensure that your brain is clear and that all the loose strands of the past few days have been captured, clarified, and organized.

Page: 51 That’s why the rewards to be gained from implementing this whole process are exponential: the more complete the system is, the more you’ll trust it. And the more you trust it, the more complete you’ll be motivated to keep it. The Weekly Review is a master key to maintaining that standard.

Page: 55 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

Page: 55 Horizon 2: Areas of Focus and Accountabilities You create or accept your projects and actions because of the roles, interests, and accountabilities you have. These are the key areas of your life and work within which you want to achieve results and maintain standards. Your job may entail at least implicit commitments for things like strategic planning, administrative support, staff development, market research, customer service, or asset management. And your personal life has an equal number of such focus arenas: health, family, finances, home environment, spirituality, recreation, etc. These are not things to finish but rather to use as criteria for assessing our experiences and our engagements, to maintain balance and sustainability, as we operate in our work and our world.

Page: 56 Horizon 4: Vision Projecting three to five years into the future generates thinking about bigger categories: organization strategies, environmental trends, career and lifestyle transition circumstances. Internal factors include longer-term career, family, financial, and quality-of-life aspirations and considerations. Outer-world issues could involve changes affecting your job and organization, such as technology, globalization, market trends, and competition.

Getting Projects Creatively Under Way: The Five Phases of Project Planning

Page: 60 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

> "Natural planning"

Page: 63 You can try it for yourself right now, if you like. Choose one project that is new or stuck or that could simply use some improvement. Think of your purpose. Think of what a successful outcome would look like: where would you be physically, financially, in terms of reputation, or whatever? Brainstorm potential steps. Organize your ideas. Decide on the next actions. Are you any clearer about where you want to go and how to get there?

Page: 65 I admit it: this is nothing but advanced common sense. To know and to be clear about the purpose of any activity are prime directives for appropriate focus, creative development, and cooperation. But it’s common sense that’s not commonly practiced, simply because it’s so easy for us to create things, get caught up in the form of what we’ve created, and let our connection with our real and primary intentions slip. I know, based upon thousands of hours spent in many offices with many sophisticated people, that the why question cannot be ignored. When people complain to me about having too many meetings, I have to ask, “What is the purpose of the meetings?” When they ask, “Who should I invite to the planning session?” I have to ask, “What’s the purpose of the planning session?” When the dilemma is whether to stay connected with work and e-mail on a vacation or not, I have to ask, “What’s the primary purpose of the vacation?” Until we have the answer to my questions, there’s no possible way to come up with an appropriate response to theirs.

Page: 68 Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior. —Dee Hock

> !

Page: 70 If you’re an optometrist, for example, you’ll tend to notice people wearing eyeglasses across a crowded room; if you’re a building contractor, you may notice the room’s physical details. If you focus on the color red right now and then just glance around your environment, if there is any red at all, you’ll see even the tiniest bits of it. The implications of how this filtering works—how we are unconsciously made conscious of information—could fill a weeklong seminar, if not the rest of your life! Suffice it to say that something automatic and extraordinary happens in your mind when you create and focus on a clear picture of what you want.

> See Affirmations

Page: 74 Psychologists have now labeled this and similar processes “distributed cognition.” It’s getting things out of your head and into objective, reviewable formats—building an “extended mind.” But my English teacher in high school didn’t have to know about the theory to give me the key: “David,” he said, “you’re going to college, and you’re going to be writing papers. Write all your notes and quotes on separate three-by-five-inch cards. Then, when you get ready to organize your thinking, just spread them all out on the floor, see the natural structure that emerges, and figure out what’s missing. Mr. Edmundson was teaching me a major piece of the natural planning model!

> See Index Cards, Zettelkasten

Page: 78 A project is sufficiently planned for implementation when every next-action step has been decided on every front that can actually be moved on without some other component’s having to be completed first. If the project has multiple components, each of them should be assessed appropriately by asking, “Is there something that anyone could be doing on this right now?” You could be coordinating speakers for the conference, for instance, at the same time that you’re finding the appropriate site.

Page: 79 If the project is still on your mind, there’s more thinking required. Most projects, given my definition of a project as an outcome requiring more than one action, need no more than a listing of their outcome and next action for you to get them off your mind. You need a new stockbroker? You just have to call a friend for a recommendation. You want to set up a new printer at home? You just need to surf the Web to check out different models and prices. I estimate that 80 percent of projects are of that nature. You’ll still be doing the full planning model on all of them, but only in your head, and just enough to figure out next actions and keep them going until they’re complete.

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

Page: 124 everything gets processed equally. The verb process does not mean “spend time on.” It just means “decide what the thing is and what action is required, and then dispatch it accordingly.” You’re going to get to the bottom of the tray as soon as you can anyway, and you don’t want to avoid dealing with anything in there.

Page: 133 Remember that these are physical, visible activities. Many people think they’ve determined the next action when they get it down to “set meeting.” But that’s not the next action, because it’s not descriptive of physical behavior. How do you set a meeting? Well, it could be with a phone call or an e-mail, but to whom? Decide. If you don’t decide now, you’ll still have to decide at some other point, and what this process is designed to do is actually get you to finish the thinking exercise about this item.

Page: 134 Even if the item is not a high-priority one, do it now if you’re ever going to do it at all. The rationale for the two-minute rule is that it’s more or less the point where it starts taking longer to store and track an item than to deal with it the first time it’s in your hands—in other words, it’s the efficiency cutoff. If the thing’s not important enough to be done, throw it away. If it is, and if you’re going to do it sometime, the efficiency factor should come into play. The two-minute rule is magic.

Organizing: Setting Up the Right Buckets

Page: 141 HAVING A TOTAL and seamless system of organization in place gives you tremendous power because it allows your mind to let go of lower-level thinking and graduate to intuitive focusing, undistracted by matters that haven’t been dealt with appropriately. But your physical organization system must be better than your mental one in order for that to happen. Being organized means nothing more or less than where something is matches what it means to you. If you decide you want to keep something as reference

Page: 141 your organization system is not something that you’ll necessarily create all at once, in a vacuum. It will evolve as you process your stuff and test out whether you have put everything in the best place for you. It should and will evolve, as you do. The core distinctions of what things mean to you will be true forever, but the best structure for you to manage them a year from now may look different than what you come up with dealing with your world today. I must Create a System or be enslav’d by another Man’s. —William Blake

Page: 144 If you put reference materials in the same pile as things you still want to read, for example, you’ll go unconscious to the stack. If you put items on your Next Actions lists that really need to go on the calendar, because they have to occur on specific days, then you won’t trust your calendar and you’ll continually have to reassess your action lists. If you have projects that you’re not going to be doing anything about for some time, they must go on your Someday/Maybe list so you can relate to the Projects list with the rigorous action-generating focus it needs. And if something you’re Waiting For is included on one of your action lists, nonproductive rethinking will continually bog you down.

Page: 144 As I’ve said, 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. Attempting to impose such scaffolding has been a big source of frustration in many people’s organizing. You’ll be prioritizing more intuitively as you see the whole list against quite a number of shifting variables. The list is just a way for you to keep track of the total inventory of active things to which you have made a commitment, and to have that inventory available for review.

> !!!

Page: 146 What many want to do, however, based on perhaps old habits of writing daily to-do lists, is put actions on the calendar that they think they’d really like to get done next Monday, say, but that actually might not, and that might then have to be moved to following days. Resist this impulse. You need to trust your calendar as sacred territory, reflecting the exact hard edges of your day’s commitments, which should be noticeable at a glance while you’re on the run. That’ll be much easier if the only things in there are those that you absolutely have to get done, or know about, on that day.

> Me!

Page: 146 Over many years I have discovered that the best way to be reminded of an “as soon as I can” action is by the particular context required for that action—that is, either the tool or the location or the situation needed to complete it. For instance, if the action requires a computer, it should go on an At Computer list. If your action demands that you be out and moving around in the world (such as stopping by the bank or going to the hardware store), the Errands list would be the appropriate place to track it. If the next step is to talk about something face-to-face with your partner, Emily, putting it into an “Emily” folder or list makes the most sense. How discrete these categories will need to be will depend on (1) how many actions you actually have to track; and (2) how often you change the contexts within which to do them. If you are that rare person who has only twenty-five next actions, a single Next Actions list might suffice.

> Pragmatic, you may not need contexts (or you may not need many)

Page: 147 If, however, you have fifty or a hundred next actions pending, keeping all of those on one big list would make it too difficult to see what you need to see; each time you got any window of time to do something, you’d have to do unproductive re-sorting. If you happened to be on a short break at a conference, during which you might be able to make some calls, you’d have to identify the calls among a big batch of unrelated items.

Page: 147 Another productivity factor that this kind of organization supports is leveraging your energy when you’re in a certain mode. When you’re in “phone mode,” it helps to make a lot of phone calls—just crank down your Calls list. When your computer is up and running and you’re cruising along digitally, it’s useful to get as much done online as you can without having to shift into another kind of activity.

Page: 163 When is a problem a project? Always. When you assess something as a problem instead of as something to simply be accepted as the way things are, you are assuming there is a potential resolution. Whether there is or not might still need to be determined. But at the very least you have some research to do to find out. “Look into improving Frederick’s relationship with his school,” “Resolve situation with landlord and building maintenance,” and “Get closure on compensation dispute with business partner” are the kinds of very real projects that you might resist defining as such.

age: 185 Many years ago Alfred North Whitehead cogently observed, “Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.” Checklists provide the micro version of that macro observation: whenever you have to think about anything, either because of some regularity of a refreshed view (“At the end of every calendar year, I want/need to …”) or a specific situation that requires more detail than you can easily recall (“Before I deliver a seminar, I need to …”), you should entrust those jobs to your “external mind”—your management system that holds the details you need to engage with at appropriate times.

Page: 187 Blueprinting Key Areas of Work and Accountability Objectives like “Maintain good physical conditioning” or “Keep my team motivated” may still need to be built into some sort of overview checklist that will be reviewed regularly.

> He suggests to use checklist for these things

Page: 189 Be open to creating any kind of checklist as the urge strikes you. The possibilities are endless—from “Core Life Values” to “Things to Take Camping” to “Potential Holiday Gifts.” Making lists, ad hoc, as they occur to you, is one of the most powerful yet subtlest and simplest procedures that you can install in your life.

Page: 189 Personal Development (things to evaluate regularly to ensure personal balance and progress)

> Example of a checklist

Reflecting: Keeping It All Fresh and Functional

Page: 195 That whirlwind of activity is precisely what makes the Weekly Review so valuable. It builds in some capturing, reevaluation, and reprocessing time to keep you in balance. There is simply no way to do this necessary regrouping while you’re trying to get everyday work done.

Page: 203 A significant change in this area has been pioneered in the software world, as “agile programming” has become the norm for successful start-ups. Have a vision, do your best to imagine what it might look like, get cranking on producing something as a viably marketable first iteration, and then “dynamically steer,” maturing both your vision as well as how to implement it, based on real feedback from your real world. The message is: positive future thinking is critical and fabulous, but it’s most effectively manifested when it is tied to a confidence of execution in the material world, with responsiveness and course correction built in.

Page: 203 Which brings us to the ultimate point and challenge of all this personal capturing, clarifying, organizing, and reflecting methodology: It’s 9:22 a.m. Wednesday morning—what do you do?

Engaging: Making the Best Action Choices

Page: 207 Over the years I have seen people effectively use categories such as “Brain Gone” (for simple actions requiring no mental horsepower) and “Less Than 5-Minute” (for getting quick “wins”).

Page: 213 Many people use the inevitability of an almost infinite stream of immediately evident things to do as a way to avoid the responsibilities of defining their work and managing their total inventory. It’s easy to get lured into not-quite-so-critical stuff that is right at hand, especially if your in-tray and your personal organization are out of control. Too often “managing by wandering around” is an excuse for getting away from amorphous piles of stuff.

Page: 217 The problem is that without a sense of control at the implementation level (current projects and actions), and without trust in your own ability to manage those levels appropriately, trying to manage yourself from the top down often creates frustration. From a practical perspective, I suggest going from the bottom up instead. I’ve coached people from both directions, and in terms of lasting value, 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.

Getting Projects Under Control

The Power of the Capturing Habit

Page: 243 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. More significantly, you incorporate a level of self-confidence in your engagement with your world that money cannot buy.

Page: 245 Your negative feelings are simply the result of breaking those agreements—they’re the symptoms of disintegrated self-trust. If you tell yourself to draft a strategic plan, when you don’t do it, you feel bad.

Page: 251 When a note sits idle in someone’s in-tray unprocessed, or when he or she nods, “Yes, I will,” in a conversation but doesn’t otherwise capture that in some way, my “uh-oh” bell rings. This is unacceptable behavior in my world. There are much bigger fish to fry than worrying about leaks in the system. I need to trust that any request or relevant information I put in an e-mail, on a voice mail, in a conversation, or in a written note will get into the other person’s system and that it will be processed and organized soon, and available for his or her review as an option for action. If the recipient is managing voice mails but not e-mail and paper, I have now been hamstrung to use only his or her trusted medium. That should be unacceptable behavior in any organization that cares about whether things happen with the least amount of effort.

The Power of the Next-Action Decision

Page: 253 Over the years I have noticed an extraordinary shift in energy and productivity whenever individuals and groups installed “What’s the next action?” as a fundamental and consistently asked question. As simple as the query seems, it is still somewhat rare to find it fully operational where it needs to be.

Page: 258 Who doesn’t procrastinate? Often it’s the insensitive oafs who just take something and start plodding forward, unaware of all the things that could go wrong. Everyone else tends to get hung up about all kinds of things.

Page: 262 The dark side of collaborative cultures is the allergy they foster to holding anyone responsible for having the ball. “Mine or yours?” is unfortunately not in the common vocabulary of many such organizations. There is a sense that that would be impolite. “We’re all in this together” is a worthy sentiment, but seldom a reality in the hard-nosed day-to-day world of work. Too many meetings end with a vague feeling among the players that something ought to happen, and the hope that it’s not their personal job to make it so.

Page: 264 People are constantly doing things, but usually only when they have to, under fire from themselves or others. They get no sense of winning, or of being in control, or of cooperating among themselves and with their world. People are starving for those experiences.

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Page: 264 Is there too much complaining in your culture? The next time someone moans about something, try asking, “So what’s the next action?” People will complain only about something that they assume could be better than it currently is. The action question forces the issue. If it can be changed, there’s some action that will change it. If it can’t, it must be considered part of the landscape to be incorporated in strategy and tactics. Complaining is a sign that someone isn’t willing to risk moving on a changeable situation, or won’t consider the immutable circumstance in his or her plans. This is a temporary and hollow form of self-validation.

The Power of Outcome Focusing

GTD and Cognitive Science

The Path of GTD Mastery

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Last modified 2020-01-10 周五 13:10. Contact max@maxjmartin.com