This is a different spin on email overload, from David Allen’s interview with Wade Roush of Xconomy.
Punching the “Clear Your Head” Button
Xconomy: To me one of the most obvious irritants today is e-mail. The average number of emails that an office worker gets is around 125 a day and is going up at 15 percent per year. Do you feel that your system is capable of coping with that level of incoming volume?
DA: As opposed to what? Stopping getting it? Or letting it pile up and blow up on you? What are your options?
X: It just seems to me that e-mail overload presents an opportunity for innovation.
DA: Well, here’s another spin that you could put on this. [Read more →]
James Fallows of The Atlantic has posted highlights from his conversation with David Allen, about coping with the modern nightmare of email and all-hours connectedness.
David Allen on How to Fix Your Life
By James Fallows, Oct 24 2012, 10:40 PM ET
I know that you’ve laid out your message in your books and in seminars and recordings. Still, I’ll ask you: What is the single main point you’d like people to remember again, gaining a feeling of control in their lives?
All the stuff that is coming in needs to be externalized. I don’t know that I could get it any simpler than that. You need to capture the stuff that’s potentially meaningful, you need to clarify what those things mean to you, and you need to keep a series of maps of the results of all of that so you can step back and see it from a larger perspective. That’s the only choice: you’re ultimately going to have a lot more to do than you can do, so the question is, do you want a half-empty or half-full life?
You can read the full post—highly recommended—here.
Last week, TEDx came to the Claremont Colleges.I was lucky enough to sit down with Allen the day before his talk to learn a little more about his model.
Allen’s entire Getting Things Done (GTD) system is based off of one simple idea: appropriate engagement. Your mind should be appropriately engaged with all the tasks at hand. This system gives you a “mind like water”; if you throw a stone into calm water, the water will ripple out exactly as much as it needs to—not too much or too little—and then return to its calm state.
So how does one obtain a mind like water? Perhaps you’ll be disappointed with the simplicity of the answer. Allen said, “I can tell you the model in twenty seconds; it’s just, keep anything potentially meaningful out of your head, sooner than later decide what it means and what you’re going to do about it, and park those results in some trusted place that some part of you knows you’ll look at the right time and the right place, and trust your intuitive judgments about what you do. That’s all it is.” While it may be simple, it is absolutely effective.
Are Smartphones Triggering a Productivity Boom? A Q&A with David Allen
By Bzur Haun | October 4, 2012
Where have smartphones made the biggest impact in ‘getting things done’?
I mean, sure, people have been able to migrate their organizational systems so that they can get email and calendar on their phones, and are able to manage communications between the lines a lot easier and faster. That’s made a difference. But it’s not that big of a deal. I mean, the smaller the device gets, the more constrained you are in terms of your productivity.
So a lot of it kind of depends on the nature of your work. It’s great if you have mobile tools to be able to utilize weird whims of wait time — waiting to pick up kids at school for example — and you’re sitting there on your iPad and you can do all kinds of cool stuff. It’s a cool time to be alive with all this great stuff in hand.
In the Job Market section of the New York Times, you’ll find an interesting article on the value of working with paper. David Allen weighs in on how he uses paper, in addition to doing his writing on a computer.
In Defense of the Power of Paper
By PHYLLIS KORKKI
Published: September 8, 2012
Paper, says the productivity expert David Allen, is “in your face.” Its physical presence can be a goad to completing tasks, whereas computer files can easily be hidden and thus forgotten, he said. Some of his clients are returning to paper planners for this very reason, he added.
Mr. Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, does much of his writing on a computer, but there are still times when writing with a fountain pen on a notepad “allows me to get my head in the right place,” he said.
David Allen gets right to the point about productivity in this interview with the Washington Post.
How to clear your inbox, make decisions and generally get things done
By Tom Fox, Published: June 13 The Washington Post
What are some of the biggest productivity problems that leaders face?
A lot of stuff banging around in their heads; and if not captured, you’ll be driven by the latest and loudest. Even if you’ve captured everything, but you don’t decide what it means quickly enough, then you become a compulsive list-maker. You’re still not getting anything done, and you’re just wasting time making lists. People must ask: What does this mean? Is this actionable or not? What is the outcome that I am committed to?
Many people make decisions when they blow up instead of when they show up. Even if you’ve decided what the next step is, you must be organized. And, even if you’ve captured, decided and organized, you will still face problems if you don’t step back, review and reflect on your decisions. The worst practice is to fall off of any of those steps and start working out of hope.
Mike Vardy of Lifehack.org interviews David Allen and Mike Williams, CEO of the David Allen Company. They talk about David’s role at the company these days, Mike’s experience bringing GTD into GE Healthcare, and a glimpse of what’s coming from DAC to expand GTD more fully in the global community. It’s available for download now on the David Allen Company podcast page.