Getting Things Done in 2009 “” David Allen’s Top Tips

Getting Things Done in 2009 “” David Allen's Top Tips - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Getting Things Done in 2009 “” David Allen's Top Tips - top government contractors - best government contracting eventAre you organizationally challenged? It“™s not easy to juggle multiple projects, oversee teams, and stay resilient in the midst of tough economic times. To ring in 2009 “” and up the odds you“™ll be productive this coming year “” we asked David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, for tips on staying on track. Allen“™s organizational system “” also called Getting Things Done (GTD) “” has a simple premise: Address with what can be addressed immediately, schedule what can be dealt with later, and toss the rest. “It“™s about defining what your commitments actually are; most people don“™t have a clue,“ Allen tells us. For more tips, read on.

What makes us feel out of control?

David Allen: We all do emergency scanning from time to time but most people are living in an emergency scan mode.  You“™re just waiting for the fire and crisis to show up and then you“™ll follow the latest loudest thing “” that“™s why people are feeling so out of control.  They haven“™t executed a real executive execution process before crisis mode hits.

The doom-and-gloom headlines trigger their share of fear. Any tips on fear management?

David Allen: Everybody “” certainly executives “” need to keep two things in mind: control and perspective.  In terms of control, the first thing you do is make sure you know what an empty inbox looks like and how to organize it. In other words, you better get control of what you can get control of so that you can navigate the stuff that you can“™t control as it comes at you. Once you regain control “” and get beyond survival mode “” then the issue becomes, What“™s my focus now? What“™s my perspective?  Should I be focused on where I want to be five years from now?  Should I be focused on a contingency plan?

What other things can executives do to maintain control?

David Allen: Most executives have between 30 and 100 projects. Things like getting new tires on their car, hiring a new assistant, restructuring their finance department, looking into a new cell phone service, managing the board meeting coming up “” all of those count as projects, by my definition.  What usually has people feeling most out of control is that inventory is not defined, not delineated and not current for them to evaluate their obligations on a regular basis.

How can executives put obligations in working order?

David Allen: To start, you need to capture the information. Write everything down that is on your mind.  Then call your answering machine and just unload. Once you“™ve captured all of the raw data then you need to come back through all that stuff and ask yourself,  Is this something that I“™m committed to move on or not “” yes or no? If it is something you are committed to move on then you need to answer two critical questions: 1) What outcome am I committed to seeing through? 2) What is the very next action step I need to take to move closer to completion?  So, outcome and action are the ultimate two questions to ask.

Prioritizing sounds like a time-consuming task.

David Allen:  Sure, your first time, it might take one to six hours to capture all the things that have your attention and then it will take a few more hours to go through all that stuff and actually define all of the projects pulling or tugging on you.  Because I have done an inventory so many times, it would take me about 30 seconds.

Any final thoughts on getting things done in tough economic times?

David Allen: Keeping up when things turn down is the time you can grow the most. In an upmarket nobody wants to change. It“™s when the heat“™s on “” how many investment banks are left by the way?  If you are looking for someone to do your IPO, I“™m sorry this is where Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are going to come out in spades.  Why do you think Warren Buffet is buying stocks now?  If you can make it through, it will test the mettle of everybody.  None of us like to have our mettle tested.  We all like to have had it tested for us.

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