The Most Popular Productivity Pieces of Wisdom from David Allen

For those of you who don’t know, David Allen is the author of Getting Things Done, an infamous book on productivity. Getting things done is hard, but GTD has methods and secrets for days. Here are some of the most popular (and our favorite) nuggets of wisdom from David:

“Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.”

“Sometimes the biggest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the desks — cutting loose debris that’s impeding forward motion.”

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”

“You can fool everyone else, but you can’t fool your own mind.”

“You don’t actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it. When enough of the right action steps have been taken, some situation will have been created that matches your initial picture of the outcome closely enough that you can call it ‘done.’”

“Getting things done is not about getting things done.”

“Most people feel best about their work the week before their vacation, but it’s not because of the vacation itself. What do you do the last week before you leave on a big trip? You clean up, close up, clarify, and renegotiate all your agreements with yourself and others. I just suggest that you do this weekly instead of yearly.”

“There is an inverse relationship about what is on your mind and getting it done.”

“Everything you’ve told yourself you ought to do, your mind thinks you should do right now. Frankly, as soon add you have two things to do stored in your RAM, you’ve generated personal failure, because you can’t do two things at the same time. This produces an all-pervasive stress factor whose source can’t be pin-pointed.”

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

“At at any point in time, knowing what has to get done, and when, creates a terrain for maneuvering.”

“Chaos is in the world. Not in your head.”

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.”

“Perspective and control are the two ingredients to time management.”

What’s your favorite David Allen quote? Share it in the comments below!


The Most Popular Productivity Pieces of Wisdom from David Allen was originally published in The Mission on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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