Getting Things Done | by David Allen


How much available data could be relevant to doing these projects "better"? The answer is, an infinite amount, easily accessible through the web. [...]

Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax. // Clearing the mind and being flexible are key.

Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does

Most of the stress people experience comes from inappropriately managed commitments they make or accept. // Learn to control the "open loops". // Write down the project or situation that is most on your mind at this moment. Describe, in a single sentence, your intended succesful outcome for this problem or situation. Write down the very next physical action required to move the situation forward.

"It's a waste of time and energy to keep thinking about something that you make no progress on."

There is no reason to ever have the same thought twice, unless you like having that thought

We need to transform all the "stuff" we're trying to organize into actionable stuff we need to do. Get in the habit of

keeping nothing on your mind

You can't DO a project. You can only do an action related to it. Many actions require only a minute or two, in the appropriate context, to move a project forward.


Collect and gather together placeholders for all the things you consider incomplete in your world. Anything you think ought to be different than it currently is and that you have any level of internal commitment to changing.

A project is any desired result that requires more than one action step.

The next-action decision is central. That action needs to be the next physical visible behavior, without exception, on every open loop.

Subdivide your Next Actions into categories // Scan all the defined actions and options before you, radically increasing the efficacy of the choices you make about what you're doing at any point in time. // How will you decide what to do and what not to do? By trusting your intuition.

Thing of your purpose. Think of what a successful outcome would look like. Where would you be physically, financially, reputation-wise, 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?

People love to win. If you're not totally clear about the purpose of what you're doing, you have no chance of winning.

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...

Asking what specific physical action you'd take next, if you had nothing else to do, will test the maturity of your thinking about the project. // 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 components having to be completed first.

Deciding isn't really an action. You just need more information before you can make a decision. Is that information external sources or internal thinking? // Even if the item is not high-priority, do it now if you're ever going to do it at all.

Review the lists of all the actions you could possible do in your current context. // Evaluate them against the flow of other work coming at you, to ensure that you make the best choices about what to deal with. // The weekly review is whatever you need to do to get your head empty again. Until you can honestly say,

"I absolutely know right now everything I'm not doing but could be doing if I decided to."

Always keep an inventory of things that need to be done that require very little mental or creative horsepower. // One of the best ways to increase your energy is to close some of your loops. So always be sure to have some easy loops to close, right at hand. // Do ad-hoc work as it shows up, not because it is the path of least resistance, but because it is the thing you need to do, vis-รก-vis all the rest.

All of us could be doing more planning, more informally, and more often, about our projects and our lives. If we did, it would relieve a lot of pressure on our psyches and produce an enormous amount of creative output with minimal effort. // The real need is to capture and utilize more of the creative, proactive thinking we do - or could do. // I'm on a mission to make "What's the next action?" part of the global thought process. // It would only require about 10 seconds of thinking to figure out what the next action would be for almost everything on your list. But most people haven't.

Who doesn't procrastinate? 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. /// Getting things going builds a more positive self-image than repeating affirmations in a mirror. // 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.
When you start to make things happen, you really begin to believe you can make things happen. And that makes things happen.

There are only two problems in life:

(1) - you know what you want but don't know how to get it

(2) - you don't know what you want