How to get things done

By | November 3, 2010

I had the great pleasure of seeing David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity and the new Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life books. He was presenting for the Nashville Technology Council and Nashville Chamber of Commerce. Thanks to Tod Fetherling for the invite!

Allen is famously known as the GTD (Getting Things Done) guy. One key thing I took away was how he carries a special GTD Notetaker Wallet that includes a pad of paper. It’s a clever product for writing down ideas as they come to you, I’m thinking of picking one up.

He joked that he has nothing in his head, and that heads are for thinking and dreaming up ideas, not for organizing and storing them. It’s a great point.

Allen leaves pads of paper all around his home, so that when an idea comes to his head, he quickly jots it down. Then he organizes the papers and returns to them later. This is a popular technique for comedians, who dream up their best jokes from their beds.

Check out his presentation at Google from a few years ago. His GTD methodology is still very relevant today.

I think it’s important for us to unplug from time to time, to go old school and grab that pen and paper. Let’s face it, there’s nothing better than the feeling of actually striking something off of your To Do list, right?

I’ve tried different ways to create To Do lists on my machines, but when your list is connected to the web, you’re that much closer to an easy distraction, literally one click away. Instead, I choose paper and pen and use the Timer Utility to keep on track.

I recommend subscribing to Allen’s GTD blog. If you enjoy his approach, you may even want to say hello to @gtdguy on Twitter.

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