David Allen on Personal Organization

  1. Decide the outcome and the action step, put reminders of those somewhere your brain trusts you’ll see them at the right time, and listen to your brain breathe easier.

  2. ‘I need milk’ and ‘I need to decide whether to buy this company’ both tie up space in psychic RAM. The solution is simple. Write it down. Look at it. Do it or say to yourself ‘not now’.

  3. The next time you want to hire someone and are evaluating performance and skill sets, look at the person’s ability to get ready fast. When has she been really surprised (positively or negatively)? How long did it take her to integrate it and navigate a positive response?

  4. Your power is proportional to your ability to relax.

  5. Your head’s for having ideas, not for holding them.

  6. There’s a subtle but critical difference between something that is long term and something in the category of ‘someday/maybe’. Either a project is an open loop to close, as soon as possible, or it is not.

  7. Sometimes the greatest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the decks.

  8. So in order to achieve clarity and be fully and positively engaged in what you’re doing, you must (1) know the goal or outcome you’re intending and (2) decide and take the next physical move to propel you in that direction.

  9. Remember, you’re the one who creates speed, because you’re the one who allows stuff to enter your life.

  10. Once a week, do a thorough review of all your projects in as much detail as you need to. If you do, your systems will work. If you don’t, no system will work.

  11. 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.

  12. It`s hard to be fully creative without structure and constraint. Try to paint without a canvas. Creativity and freedom are two sides of the same coin. I like the best of both worlds. Want freedom? Get organized. Want to get organized? Get creative.

  13. If you`ll be doing something you`d love to be doing anyway, get started, and don`t kid yourself. If you`re just thinking you`ll putter around with something because it`ll make you a little money, don`t bother.

  14. If you want to catch fish, and really enjoy the sport, you will maintain your lures and line in some organized fashion. The best at it will always have their tackle ready.

  15. Focusing on your values may provide you with meaning, but it won’t simplify things. You’ll just discover even more stuff that’s important to you.

  16. A complete and accurately defined list of projects, kept current and reviewed on at least a weekly basis, is a master key to stress-free productivity.

  17. Things rarely get stuck because of lack of time. They get stuck because the doing of them has not been defined.

  18. There is usually an inverse proportion between how much something is on your mind and how much it’s getting done.

  19. Small things, done consistently, in strategic places, create major impact.

  20. If you think getting an empty mind is not worth doing, then throw away your calendar. Halfway is unjustifiable.

  21. The hardest thing about being productive is not the work, but the split second it takes to decide to take control.