david allen getting thing done GTD founder authorcast

TBAC 025 | Author Cast : From Getting Things Done® to Ready for Anything with David Allen

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo11

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If you believe that books can change lives, read on.

Everyone of us have dreams and wishes, hopes and aspirations for our lives. We have big ideas to do something meaningful and change the world in our own small little ways.

How many of us actually take this beyond the brain cells that occupy these thoughts? 

What stops us from taking that next step to making things happen? 

Is there is a system that can help you achieve results and get things done?

In short, there is!

In this special 25th episode of the podcast, it is an honor to present David Allen. Author of “Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity“, a book that can (potentially) change your life. I regard David to be the “Father of productivity”. Although I have read a few good books on productivity, none have come close to what he devised as the Getting Things Done (GTD®) methodology. Being a software engineer myself, I am a big fan of methodologies and systematic way of doing things.

In this part 1 of a two-part series, David shares with us his inspiration behind the GTD and how he came up with the ideas that eventually took shape of a book. He shares this story in brief and also discusses the various models that have inspired him to tread on the path that eventually led to GTD.

Towards the end we discuss his two other books and what inspired him to write them.

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Sneak Peek of the Episode:

  • From a History major in college to starting a consulting co. (David Co.).
  • How he found trusted models.
  • The strategic value of clear space and its relationship with martial arts.
  • The story of how he put all this together.
  • How he felt when someone applied principles in his book for the first time.
  • Discussion around the models that inspired David.
  • The five stage planning process of the mind.
  • Martial arts and practical reasons to be clear.
  • Using six horizons to set priorities.
  • Ready for anything – the inspiration and writing of (essays compilation)… 52 productivity principles for getting things done.
  • Yi Ching and related inspiration.
  • Martial arts and the concept of mind like water.
  • How fast can we integrate new information and perspectives.
  • The strategic behavior set these days about being “ready for anything”. .. for people to stay competitive and not turn to toast.
  • The never ending onion peel of applying GTD.
  • Why it is a totally different book every time you read it.
  • The importance of being appropriately engaged.
  • How the book triggers a different thing each time you read (So, surprise yourself loopback again and read it again; you will see stuff you didn’t see before. I absolutely guarantee).
  • The first five stages of GTD.
  • It takes less energy to achieve the results when you are clear.

Insightful Quotes From This Episode:

“You actually don’t know what to do with something until you know what it means to you.”

“People need to lighten up about the game of work and they need to get a lot more business like about their personal life.”

“The mind in order to let it go, doesn’t actually have to finish it has to know that there is a plan to finish it.”

“I really went through dark night of the soul while writing that book.”

“Pain is just a remembrance of things past and a fear of things future.”

“Truly having nothing on your mind… what a delicious and optimal place to operate from.” 

“Having nothing but what is present on your mind is a very healthy and a very optimal place to be able to access all your own personal resources and heighten your perceptions.”

“Action is the name of the game here in the material world.” 

“If you jump by 4 people on a dark alley you want to have a clear head, you don’t wanna have 3000 unprocessed email hanging onto your psyche and your subliminal consciousness. 

“Whats not finished, whats open, whats incomplete?”

“Because the incomplete things in someones world create a huge psychological drag. .. and an inability to have a clear focus to focus forward.” 

“So Dean taught me what is the next action question and how powerful it was.” 

“And finally just out of frustration Dean just started picking up files / reports or any piece of paper and asked the question, “What is the very next thing you need to do on this??”

“If you haven’t figured out the next action on any of your commitments or incompeltes, you haven’t finished your thinking on it and therefore not keeping the agreement with yourself about it…. It will then suck you dry.” 

“Next action thing is a very powerful thing to do psychologically and energy wise.”

“It had tested itself in some of the toughest environments.” 

“All the implications and applications of the model were documented in the book.” 

“…Part of the reason was to just write a manual for this.” 

“Systematic way to manage what their work was, and to stay focussed on the right things. 

“Just the process of getting themselves focussed and under control had such a high payoff, that it may became the core of the business I was doing.”

“I have always been fascinated by models.”

“What is the underlying principle beneath something, the way something works; so if I understand that I could work it better and with less effort.”

“Another vector here is that I am probably the laziest guy you ever met.”

“All the coolest thing you are experiencing out here in the world were probably created by the lazy people who wanted to get something done with less effort and more class ease and elegance.”

“It is sort of studied laziness if you will.”

“And thats why my book hit such a nerve in the tech community.”

“I got fascinated to learn how these different businesses were running that I got invalid in.”

“I liked to show up and say “well, jee what are you doing and how can we do it easier and better” and help improve how they were doing that.”

“And one day I discovered they actually pay people to do that and they call them something (talking about consultants).”

“If you make an agreement and don’t keep it, trust just disintegrates.”

“Its an automatic disintegration of self trust; if you tell yourself to do something and don’t do it.”

“If you want to increase your energy and self-esteem just make sure you keep every agreement you make with yourself.”

“I spent some time thinking about how we think.”

“— You are most at peace when you are most active… Not necessarily physically active, but appropriately engaged… “

“If you jump by 4 people on a dark alley you want to have a clear head, you don’t wanna have 3000 unprocessed email hanging onto your psyche and your subliminal consciousness.”

“Not being clear on what to achieve is like having the static in the system.”


Items Mentioned in the Show:

David Allen in brief:

David Allen is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert on personal and organizational productivity. His thirty-year pioneering research and coaching to corporate managers and CEOs of some of America’s most prestigious corporations and institutions has earned him Forbes’ recognition as one of the top five executive coaches in the U.S. and Business 2.0 magazine’s inclusion in their 2006 list of the “50 Who Matter Now.” Time Magazine called his flagship book, “Getting Things Done”, “the definitive business self-help book of the decade.” Fast Company Magazine called David “one of the world’s most influential thinkers” in the arena of personal productivity, for his outstanding programs and writing on time and stress management, the power of aligned focus and vision, and his groundbreaking methodologies in management and executive peak performance.

If you have any comments or questions for this episode, please post them below.

Enjoy the show and don’t forget to spread the word about this awesome episode using the social sharing links.

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Article by

Yaaqub Mohamed (Yamo), is the founder of The BA Coach community and host for the #1 ranked business analysis podcast in iTunes. He believes in adding relentless value to the BA community and advancing the practice.  He host this blog, and podcast to help business analysts throughout the world, do analysis better, by providing educational, relevant, and inspiring content. He's the author of 'The Five Pillars of a Great Business Analyst', best selling 'The Ultimate CBAP-CCBA Study Guide' and the creator of the revolutionary 'Ultimate BABOK Kit'. 

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11 Responses to “TBAC 025 | Author Cast : From Getting Things Done® to Ready for Anything with David Allen”

  1. Vicki James says:

    More great ideas in getting focus to get things done. I added a link on my related blog (http://project-pro.us/2012/03/28/achieve-success-with-focus/).

    One thing I recently changed was to begin using a http://www.trello.com progress board to track my initiatives and and tasks. I had learned this was a great team tool, but it’s helping me with my own tasks as well. A great way to record big ideas or little tasks within those ideas so you move on. Use whatever it takes to get organized. The tool doesn’t matter.

    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      Thanks for the comment and link back, Vicki. Trello seems interesting, I should check it out sometime. I am currently using OmniFocus Apps on iphone, mac and ipad; it has been awesome so far. :)

      You are absolutely right. The tool doesn’t really matter, as long as you follow the system and process.

  2. Katie Metcalfe says:

    Excellent podcast Yamo and David.

    I have read Getting Things Done and Ready for Anything. Both books really improved my productivity and the way in which I manage the things I need to do both as a BA and in my personal life. Thanks David for the books and the podcasts (my psyche thanks you as well).

    Congrats Yamo on a excellent first season of podcasts. Looking forward to more.


  3. Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

    Thanks, Katie.

    Season 1 was a ton of fun. Can’t wait to get started on season 2 and bring some more awesome content to the BA community. :)

    I look forward to your continued support and listenership.


  4. Alan Lyons says:

    Thanks for a great first season Yamo!

    Can’t wait for the next one. Keep up the great interviews.

    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      Thanks, Alan. It is great to have you listen and provide feedback. Please spread the word and have more folks benefit from these episodes.

  5. […] this part 2 of a two-part series (you can listen to part 1 here), David shares with us how to navigate and apply the GTD system.  He also answers a few community […]

  6. […] 6 ->; From Getting things done to Ready for Anything, AuthorCast with David Allen […]

  7. […] 4 ->; From Getting things done to Ready for Anything, AuthorCast with David Allen […]

  8. […] my interview with the international best seller and the creator of the revolutionary Getting Things Done (GTD®) system, David Allen, suggests that the most important aspect of focussing on getting something done is to […]

  9. I just recently got this book on Audible. Now I feel like I need to hurry up and get through it. The great thing about books like these (vs books just about being a better business analyst), is that 1. They do make you a better business analyst and your BA career gets a boost, 2. They make you a better person and everything else in your life also gets a boost.

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