One of the world’s most influential thinkers on productivity, David’s 40 years experience as a management consultant and executive coach have earned him the titles of “personal productivity guru” by Fast Company and one of the top 5 executive coaches by Forbes Magazine.
His bestselling book, the groundbreaking “Getting Things Done” and its methods, commonly known as “GTD,” spawned a movement with millions of practitioners and fans around the world. His methods of staying relaxed and focused in our fast-paced world are now being spread by certified trainers and coaches in more than ninety countries.
Please enjoy my conversation with David Allen.
Listen to more great episodes at Next Level Soul Podcast
Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 170
David Allen 0:00
But it's always going to be an intuitive spiritual trust your gut, trust your liver trust whatever body part you want to trust. That's going to tell you what you think that's the most important thing you need to do right now.
Alex Ferrari 0:21
I've been able to partner with mine valley to present you guys FREE Masterclass is between 60 and 90 minutes, covering Mind, Body Soul Relationships, and Conscious Entrepreneurship, taught by spiritual masters, yogi's spiritual thought leaders and best selling authors. Just head over to nextlevelsoul.com/free.
I'd like to welcome to the show, David Allen. How you doing David?
David Allen 1:01
Fine. Alex, thanks for the invitation.
Alex Ferrari 1:03
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm excited to talk to you about how to get things done this year. I mean, there's this year every year for that matter, but it is, it is a problem that we all have. And I have to first my first question is how did you get into this line of work?
David Allen 1:21
I got fascinated by clear space. You know, I was an American intellectual history major in Berkeley in graduate school in 1968. So imagine that path from there to here. Then I decided, you know, come on 1960. And I decided I wanted my own enlightenment instead of studying other people out there. So I dropped out of graduate school and then but they weren't paying people to go, you know, learn yourself and study yourself or whatever. So I had to make, I had to, you know, had to make a living at Rice Bowl. And K wasn't my gig at the time. So. But I had friends that kind of knew what they were doing. I didn't know what I wanted to do, except for myself, find out who the hell I was, you know, that whole game. But I had friends who seemed to know what they were doing. So they were starting businesses and have small businesses and so I became a really good number two guy. So, you know, I helped friends, I helped a guy run a service station, and a car restoration business. I help the guy manage a landscape company in in San Fernando Valley. I helped. I helped you guys start a restaurant, New Orleans style restaurant in in, in a lake. So I did a lot of stuff. But I'd go into this like, well, how much easier can we do this? I'm just Mr. Lazy. I forgot. Come on, guys. How soon can we leave and whatever, and I just wound up helping improve, they're not they call that process improvement. I just said, come up with gotta beat the easier way to do what you're trying to do here. So I wound up doing that, and then I get bored with fixing. Okay, so it's on cruise control. So what's next? And then I discovered they pay people to do that they call them something. Consultants. Wow. You know, couldn't spell it now. Ir1. So 1982, hung up my shingle Allen associates and started to do my own consulting. But I said, Can I just sell myself on a project by project basis? Because that's what I've been doing. Maybe Maybe you can make a career and about I don't know. So I tried that. But I also was, was interested in clear space, because one of the things I did when I dropped out and was doing meditation, spiritual explorations study in whatever, kind of black belt in karate. So, you know, in, obviously, the martial arts at a high levels of training, there's, you know, meditative kind of reflective kind of exercises. There may be a spiritual component, but there's certainly a practical component of where people jumping in a dark alley, you don't want 2000 unprocessed emails hanging around your psyche. So how do you stay clear, as my world was getting more busy, complex professional. I needed to stay clear myself, because I liked the clarity. I like the idea of nothing on my mind, except what I'm trying to do, and not being distracted. And so I then started to discover piece by piece elements of what then later became a whole methodology that I was able to cobble together and objectify called GTD getting things done. Anyway, that that was the beginning of all this. And once I started doing that, that became, we're starting to say, well, this worked for me, let me see if this works for my clients to help them gain more stability, more control, more freedom, more space to focus on the meaningful stuff. So I started using it for them that work for them to produce the same results that did for me, you know, more of that. Then I had a guy, big guy in that corporate, you know, training world, head of HR and a big corporation saw what I was doing and said, David, we need that on our own culture. can you design some sort of a training program around that? So I did two or three months and designed personal productivity training. And we did a pilot program for 1000 executives and managers of Lockheed 1983 84. And at work to hit a nerve, it's like, wow, they'd never seen anything. That's good. And suddenly, if you'd told me that, as an American history, intellectual history major in Berkeley and 68, that I was going to be thrust into the corporate training world, I'd say, what are you smoking? Are you sure really, and then, but it turned out that was the audience that was the ripest and the most hungry for what I had come up with, because they were getting bombarded in the corporate world and was getting bombarded with a tsunami of email and corporate change and flattened organizations. And, wow, people need to manage themselves better. And so and they were willing to pay for something about that. So I wound up being thrust into the corporate training world and my consulting turn, pretty much mostly into coaching, mid to senior level people that that round, that are discovered what I was doing and said, David, come sit by my desk, and you help me install this and, and implement that. So. So Alex has spent 1000s, quite literally 1000s of hours, you know, Malcolm Gladwell would say, 10,000 hours, I've probably spent 30,000 hours literally deskside, with some of the busiest and brightest people you'd ever meet, actually implementing it, you know, testing and refining and having them implement this methodology. And, you know, that's after 20 years, I said, somebody said, Put me out to write a book, because it took me that long to figure out, but what I'd figured out that nobody else had done it. But I hadn't, I've had no traditional formal training and time management, psychology or business. Mine was Wall Street Smart. That what I come up with, I guess, I had the advantage of not being conditioned by any rethinking about what all that should be or what that should look like. And so I wound up writing the book became the manual, and then suddenly thrust into the corporate end of the world stage because I had no idea. I'm not particularly entrepreneurial, or aspirational. I'm more of an educator, and a researcher than anything else.
Alex Ferrari 7:15
It's, I find it fascinating because you seem like almost like the reluctant time management guru. Just like, you know, I just kind of
David Allen 7:25
Get away you can't manage time, you can't manage time.
Alex Ferrari 7:30
But that's what I like about I like about your presentation about this. It's just like I you know, I just, it was the thing I was doing this, it kind of worked out. And it's so funny that I've heard this so many times in in my own life as well, if you would have told me 10 years ago, I wouldn't be podcasting as a as a career and a living. And I'm going to get to sit down and speak to people like yourself all the time, and basically just reach out to whoever I want to talk to and learn about whatever I want to learn about and talk to people. Well, I would have said, You're nuts. You're absolutely insane. But yet, here we are. So I can only imagine 10 years, what's gonna be happening for me, or for anybody, but that's, I find that that's kind of the way the world works. The universe works that way. You just are thrown into things that are more in line with where you're supposed to be, despite yourself.
David Allen 8:28
Get out of your own way.
Alex Ferrari 8:29
Exactly. So you've said you've said many times, that your mind is a crappy office, your head is a crappy office. Can you explain that to the audience what that means?
David Allen 8:40
Well, let me just let me back up just the last decade when the cognitive scientists had basically validated what I uncovered 40 years ago, your mind is for having ideas, not for holding them. And they basically proven that if you're trying to manage more than four things in your head, you're going to be driven by latest and loudest, not by intuitive strategy. Period, you won't take a test as well, you won't be able to be as present as well, you won't be able to do anything as well, simply because you got something spinning around in this part of your head that has no sense of past or future. So it's like this hamster wheel that will wake you up at three o'clock in the morning. Oh, I should have come on. What a waste of time and what a drain of your energy. And so I just discovered years ago that you know, your heads what you need to do is get that stuff out of your head. And you know, your head your brain was designed to evolve to do some very sophisticated stuff. You're doing it right now say oh, that the microphone that's a computer that the thing or you know, whatever as opposed to vibrations of light and sound to your brain evolved to do some very sophisticated stuff called long term history and pattern recognition to make sense of your world. That's how you get through the day. You know, something your brain designed very well but you go to the store for lemons, you buy six things and no lemon. You know what happens?
Alex Ferrari 9:59
David Allen 10:01
You were trying to use your head to remember, remind, prioritize manage relationships between more than four things. It doesn't do that does very well, you can do it a little bit and find out. But it's not the ultimate way to be able to manage that. So the whole idea was building the external brain. You can read Dan Lebanon's book, The organized mind, you can read. You know, Atul Gawande is The Checklist Manifesto. You can read, there's a lot of stuff out there over the last 10 years I've shown up that said, Look, guys, you need to build some sort of trusted external system, and a way to engage with that appropriately. But your mind is not distracted, and you can be more present, whatever you're doing. So when I say more present, Come on Alex, I mean, I know your focus, I, you know, I really appreciate it acknowledge your your intentions and the work you're doing. But if you want to do more spiritual practices, most stuff, actually there is a spiritual base to it, but it's not about it's just about being clear. Whether you want, you know, and so just being clear, you can be clear, better meditation, or be clear to write a better business plan. You know, either way, our cook better spaghetti, spaghetti,
Alex Ferrari 11:15
Right! And that's, and that's one of the reasons why I like having guests like you on the show is because it's, you know, my show is not just only about spirituality, it's about the entire package, the mind, the body, the health, wealth, the whole thing that we're going through this journey, life's journey and helping tools along those paths. But absolutely, Look, I I have a very heavy meditation practice, I meditate at least two hours, sometimes three a day. And I run multiple businesses, I have employees, I do many things. And I had to clear out a lot of stuff to make that happen. I'm nowhere near perfect. I don't think anybody is at this point. But I do my best. But without those skills. I can't do a show like this. I can't help people. I can't find time to meditate. I can't find time for my family. You need to have these kinds of skill sets. These are these are life skills, not just business skills. Would you agree?
David Allen 12:12
Of course. Absolutely.
Alex Ferrari 12:13
So what is the
David Allen 12:15
People meet me they go, David, you're nothing like I thought you'd be because they read my book. They think I'm buttoned down corporate type A. You're not You're not gonna you're not gonna like, go no, I'm not anything like that. I'm spontaneous, follow my intuitive punches do what I feel like doing whatever I feel like doing it. That's my style. I just discovered that. Without these techniques, I couldn't do that. on a consistent basis.
Alex Ferrari 12:41
What is the most important thing that we should be doing right now to help us clear that space to help us get a little bit more organized?
David Allen 12:51
Well, there's three, three things. What you need to do is first of all, you need to identify everything that's got your attention. That's not on cruise control. So people have been watching or listening to this even the short few minutes Alec, have had their mind go somewhere. It had nothing to do with what you and I are talking about. That's what I'm talking about wrapped up. Why is that on your mind? The reason it's on your mind is because their decisions about what you haven't made their things, you're not appropriately engaged with that commitment. So I just discovered what appropriate engagement looks and sounds and feels like how do you do that? How do I appropriately engage with my health? My cat? My business, like podcasting, whatever. What do I need to do to get that off my mind? Because on your mind usually means there's something that's not right yet, or there's something not on yet or something that's not been taken advantage of yet. So you need to capture that thought. Write it down. If nothing else, you know, I live with paper and pen. I'm sorry. There is no better tool. You know, no Wi Fi No, no batteries required.
Alex Ferrari 14:03
It can't crash. It won't crash.
David Allen 14:05
By the way. While we're while we're talking. I may have something popped into my mind. So I don't know the music. He comes in and she goes out man. Two minutes later. I think I hadn't thought it might have been useful. Where was it? Where did it go? So first of all, didn't write it down, capture your stuff that's got your attention. By the way, most people that we have coached over the years are coached 1000s It takes one to six hours you have to grab all the stuff that's got their attention. Most people have no idea how many commitments they've made internally. I wouldn't good should need to ought to might want to whatever. All that stuff is then rattling around in that crappy office called her brain. And so that's the first step is just make sure you capture meaning externalize capture in some sort of frosted weigh in some sort of trusted bucket, all those things that have your attention. And then secondly, then you need to not just let that lie fallow, you need to then make decisions about what does that mean? What are we going to do with that? That's something to actually do something about or, and if it is, then you need to say, what's the next action? Do I have some project I need to keep track of, and then keeping track of those commitments is step three, which has been organized, you need to get some sort of a list manager that you can lift here's my errands I need to run here's the things I need to talk to my partner about. Here's the thing, here's my projects I need to finish somehow in the next few weeks or month. Simply add this as kind of a Duffing Alex. I mean, I hate to say this, but anybody listening or watching this, who keeps a calendar is already demonstrated the fact that your brain can't do it. Oh, yeah.
Alex Ferrari 15:52
Absolutely. I live with my camera without my calendar. You know, it's, it's all
David Allen 15:58
Because some part of me says, that's a commitment I made. I got a price to pay if I don't keep that commitment. And so that gives you the motivation to actually manage that external brain. But what about all the things you've told yourself, you need to do about your life and your, your organs, your work, your your company, your relationship, your family? What about all those?
Alex Ferrari 16:24
Now, how do you get appropriately engaged with your life is something you've spoken about before? Can you talk a little about?
David Allen 16:32
Yeah, pretty easy. What is it that you're not yet totally properly engaged with? You to capture that? And then you say, what do I need to do about that? Is that a doable thing? Or not? You need to make a decision? Is that an actionable thing? Yes, or No? If no, it's trash, it's reference, or something to be reminded of later, if there is some, if it is a doable thing. And you say, Okay, what's the next thing I would need to do? What's my very next action, I would need to take an email to say on a website to serve conversation I have with my wife, my husband. And then, if one action won't finish that, what's the project and defining what the project is that you're committed to complete about this? Well, we need to really make a decision about whether to adopt or not, I really need to hire the Vice President, I need to make sure that our bank account or that our equity line has been increased. So most people have 30 to 100 projects, and most people have 150 to 200. Next actions that they have barely even begun to even define or objectified. But that's the truth. By the way, don't shoot the messenger. That's just, that's, that's their reality. And they just very, very much over committed in terms of their own personal systems to manage all that, so that their mind can go, I'm not going to do any, I'm gonna have a beer. I'm gonna think of that. Because I look at all that and now I'm appropriately engaged with all of that, because I parked those in places. And my reminders of all the things I need to be reminded of in the right places that I know I will see in the right context, the right time. And that's how you appropriately engage.
Alex Ferrari 18:13
And that also is
David Allen 18:15
Engaged with cat food, you got cat, you need Cat food common at three o'clock in the morning, we need capital, come on, right here. Don't post it on the fridge. Trusting whoever's going to the store is going to buy capital using a post to remind them. That's all you need to do to appropriately engage. But that gets more sophisticated when you're thinking about the more sophisticated stuff.
Alex Ferrari 18:35
But that also includes your health. That also includes maybe your spiritual practice these kinds of things that that might
David Allen 18:41
That has your attention. God, why am I on the planet? Right, got your attention. Great. What's your desired outcome? You get more clarity about my life purpose. Fabulous. Write that on your project list. What's your next action? What would you need to do? Do you think? Well, I need to listen to Dan moments. Interview with Alex. I just listened to it, by the way, the Great, thanks. Okay, we'll do whatever. What's your next step you need to take to get clarity about that. So you could appropriately engage with even something as potentially sophisticated that but it's the same stuff. Okay. Cat food, life purpose. Come on. Xena. There's Alex.
Alex Ferrari 19:25
It's the zen of the cat food. I mean, we've wrote I think that's the title of a new book, The Zen of the cat food. I'll write it with you. Now okay, so now we are getting an understanding of engaging with our life engaging on what's important to us. How do you prioritize what systems what advice do you have for prior to prioritizing different easy life?
David Allen 19:51
Once you get this all captured, clarified and organized? Take a look at the whole inventory. See which thing if I do it right now would give me the highest payoff. Now when you say highest payoff is going well and great, what are you trying to do with your life and your lifestyle? Where do you want to be three to five years from now in terms of your vision of lifestyle and career? What's your life purpose? What are your core values? There are a lot of conversations to have these multiple horizons of our commitments with ourselves. So understanding those, you know what your life purpose is, then decide which one of those emails the respondent is going to fulfill your life purpose for moving forward? That's not going to help most people make that decision. So they need to just get well and great. Where am I going my life? My career? Oh, by the way, what do I need to do in the next year to make sure I'm going where I'm going, and when my life and career oh, by the way, one of the things I need to be accountable for and responsible for a job and my life, washing machine and, and, and the light bulb that's out and dogs that need to be walked in? Oh, by the way. So there are, you know, most people's lives are much more complex than they realized or acknowledged or objective. So what I did was help people with objective, find that content of all of that, and then appropriately engage with that as they as needed the but it's always going to be an intuitive spiritual trust your gut, trust your liver, trust, whatever body part you want to trust. That's gonna tell you what you think that's the most important thing you need to do right now. But I still may have to make that choice. Look, I'm 77. So I don't get I didn't graduate past what I teach, I still have to do everything I'm talking about, in order to stay clear, so that you and I are just clear, clear talking to you.
Alex Ferrari 21:54
It's funny, because as we're talking and as you're talking in my mind's like, oh, man, you gotta get that done. And that done and that, like, these things are popping into my head as like, because you're telling me you got to prioritize, and then the binds like, to progress in any of them? Absolutely not. I shouldn't do what happened, I should do that
David Allen 22:13
What happened to your energy based upon that distraction?
Alex Ferrari 22:17
It because your mind is your focus is a little bit different. So you can't be completely engaged. And it wasn't something I meant to do. It's just something that happened based on the conversation we're having. Because my mind is like, oh, yeah, there's that to do list that my wife and I put down? And how did we get to we knocked on a bunch of it. But but we really need to get that thing done. We haven't even talked about that in weeks, we this is all happening while I'm still engaged here. So I'm almost on a subconscious level is going back here. But I'm still listening to the voice while I'm engaged with you. But you're absolutely this is a perfect example of what we're talking about is happening to me as we're talking.
David Allen 22:56
It's Welcome, welcome to your world. And you could have fooled me that that was something I was going to discover that this would be a model that I would sort of uncover, I didn't make it up. This is how you get your kitchen under control, like get your consciousness under control is detach, you get your comfort under control, you identify what's off, you decide what to do about that you organize the result of the actions and commitments you've made about that in some external brain, you trust that you are the right person at the right time. And you then make sure you reflect on the whole inventory on a consistent basis. You know, not just uncovered that and objectified it, but don't shoot the messenger. But if you if you want the result, present, wherever you are, yeah, you can focus on your breathing all you want. But if you still need cat food you haven't properly engaged with that it'll disturb your meditation.
Alex Ferrari 23:53
Again, the zen of cat food, it's yours for free. David write the book, please. So one of the biggest things, you know, I've been a writer and worked in Hollywood for a long time. And right and you've been a writer obviously, as well. And I use writers as an example because if there is something else that can be done, we will like oh, you know what, I really do need to clean that house today, instead of writing that the devil of procrastination.
David Allen 24:23
Oh my god. When I when I was started, decided to write the first getting things done book was published in 2001 that I started in 1997. It took four years to get to get it out. My wife discovered she had a completion machine. She was married to the all she had to do was put stuff in my in basket. Oh, oh, yeah, cleaning the toilet either. I need to do that. Oh my god. I can't tell you how many things I finished handled to avoid sending out and trying to write the first chapter.
Alex Ferrari 24:52
So how do you overcome procrastination in any aspect of our life?
David Allen 24:57
Well, you know you've talked about You're in a number of your podcast. I know. The biggest fear is the fear of losing control. Yeah. They're all you know, Alex go on you can you can back, spill any of these fears. They're all the fear of losing control. You know, what if I lose control in this conversation? What if? What if I lose control of my own emotion? What if I go crazy? What if it's all about losing control controlling the biggest human addiction, people are killing themselves and each other as we speak, Jeff to either maintain or achieve that sense of psychological control. It's that powerful a driver. So, back to the common sense or common place, why do you avoid stuff, you don't want to step into something you don't feel like you can successfully do immediately. So the deciding part of my methodology, determining what's the very next action step you would need take about this. And that's something you can usually control and engage with successfully. But if you haven't decided that, some part of you go, Oh, my God, what to do about that side, we should adopt higher the Vice President to increase our credit line, you know, there's, there's unknown between here and there. And so some part of me feels out of control to even engage with that. And so you avoided like the plague. That's why most people procrastinate about most anything. Or you may be procrastinating about stuff. It's not that important anymore. You may have stuff on your list that was important two months ago, but now it's like, you know, oh, come on, What a dumb idea. But it's still on your list, you think you're procrastinating about it? No, just get rid of it. Dump it. Just go no, or maybe someday, you know, put it on a Sunday, maybe
Alex Ferrari 26:47
So then doing action steps, kind of it's like, instead of eating the elephant in one bite, you start taking a little bit of bite a bite at a time. And that's how you eat an elephant one bite at a time as opposed to trying to eat the whole thing at one time. And that overwhelming feeling that we get is we're like, I don't even want to attempt that right now. But if you just look at the next action step, well, if I gotta raise my credit line, I gotta make an appointment with the bank, that I can handle that boom. After I get that, then I'll need to bring in, make sure I have my tax returns for the last two years. Okay, great. But if you start looking at it as this giant monster of caution, that's why when we sit down to write a book, it's the book. No, let's outline the first two chapters
David Allen 27:32
Really shitty first draft, okay, as you come out as a writer, you know,
Alex Ferrari 27:37
You just gotta get for me, it's like, I need a
David Allen 27:40
Butt, in chair boot computer, eat.
Alex Ferrari 27:43
Right! For me, it's always outline first, once I have an outline, then I could start going, and then it just it's unraveled
David Allen 27:50
Online. First, you might need to go random, strange ideas. Let me put on the page, then. All right. You know what I would do that, by the way, one of the best things I discovered was to create two Word docs. One was random ideas. And the other was the outline. I tried to I tried to use some of the writing apps that were out there, they required too much thinking to try to figure out how to use them. And all I needed was a place to create a sort of a brainstorm, outline, and another place to capture every idea, I think it might have to go into that. And those two things were sufficient. Absolutely, for me to write the four books. Got another one in the works.
Alex Ferrari 28:36
And for me, it's I would agree with you, like I did that without doing it exactly how you're doing it as I outline, when I create an outline, you know, what, you know, sentence, then I would just run a bunch of ideas about that, that out that place, and then keep going. So it just and I would just it just kept going through it. But it's
David Allen 28:55
Just don't stop. Don't stop your thinking. And don't stop capturing your thinking. Right? And then later see, God, God bless word processors, you know, I did a did a project with a company with Charles ammonia and and Terrell built Word and Excel. And those were the two game changers in the world out there in terms of productivity, oh, absolutely nothing else. Everything else, added speed and volume. But word, but word processors, and Excel and relational databases and where all that came from those were game changers. You know, 85% of the businesses in the US are being run by Excel. And believe me, word allowed us, you and me to have ideas then later on figuring out what to do with them, which was a game changer, just in terms of how our brain thinks and our productivity in terms of our thinking and what we can do with it.
Alex Ferrari 29:50
Now you talk about this thing called a two minute rule. Can you talk a little bit about that?
David Allen 29:56
Sure. Anything you can do in two minutes
Alex Ferrari 29:59
Right So what is the two minute rule
David Allen 30:00
That still needs to be done should be done right then because it would take you longer to remember right, or to write it down, that it wouldn't be to finish it. So come on, I've had executive study that was worth every single dollar, they paid me and they take the big bar, just the two minute rule. Really, just like Oh, my God, that email I can, I can respond to that I can delegate that, or I can handle that in two minutes or less. Let me not lie that lie fallow. The problem is a lot of seriously professional high, you know, high performing, people are so focused on their high priority that they live life fallow. A lot of these secondary things that show up in life, they still need to deal with, they just don't have the energy don't feel like dealing with it. And then what happens is they come back and bite him in the butt. And then then suck their energy out of that stuff, simply because there's still stuff they have, they still need to do. They still need to decide they still need to hand off, they still need to complete that. You know, and I don't tell them what that is. I just asked him, because something you need to do. Oh, yeah. How long would it take? I could do that in a second. Do it. Boom, done. You'd be amazed. And a lot of them come back the next day, and all kinds of stuff is coming back to them that they've put in motion protectively and go, Oh, my God, that has happened in my world.
Alex Ferrari 31:30
Because you start as you know, it's really you're absolutely right those with if you could do something within those two minutes. But to a certain extent, though, because you could do an email in two minutes. How about if you have 1000 emails, you have to prioritize? Which ones are important?
David Allen 31:43
Which one? Why do you have 1000 emails? Because you haven't dealt with them as they came in?
Alex Ferrari 31:47
But how about if you hop off? You're very popular podcaster, who gets emailed constantly by all sorts of people and all sorts of things.
David Allen 31:54
Alex, do you only take out part of your garbage?
Alex Ferrari 32:01
Exactly. So then you have to make a decision of either have systems in place to get rid of the garbage or within and this is what I've started to do when I do go through my email. I'd be like, nope, junk, no junk, no junk. Or if I have to respond, I have a pre built response for some of the more common questions that I get. So I can move much quicker, because if I'm sitting there typing, it's one sentence, but one sentence 500 times is a lot of time. So if you could just go click, click done, click click Done. These are little hacks that I've found over the years.
David Allen 32:33
Text, text. expander is great, you know, a lot. Here's the response. People ask me for a podcast, I have a click response. Here, the three stipulations standard stipulation, I go back to X XP, and I go through and go through these kinds of things. Maybe you're okay with these. And here's my request and do it before. Thank you, by the way for acknowledging my time zone.
Alex Ferrari 32:59
Sure, of course.
David Allen 33:01
So, yeah, so automate that stuff. So it's quick and easy. Why would you have 1000 emails sitting anywhere? Oh, no, you only take out part of your garbage. Give me a break. And I understand it's an issue because of the speed and volume of stuff coming in, that lets people allow to come in. But why do you allow them to come in? Why are there?
Alex Ferrari 33:24
Well, I'll tell you what I mean, and let's talk about automation for a second, because there are so many things in the world that could help you with menial tasks that take up so much time. I mean, when you scheduled to come on the show, I use a software that helps me schedule you, helps me send you reminders, send you a text reminder, if you option for that. All that stuff is done automatically. And I just show up, and boom, you're here and we're recording. Before I use that I would manually Hold on, let me check my schedule. All right, how about on Wednesday at two o'clock, and it was take I was dying? That one little automation that I did changed my daily routine, because and now I'm booked up until March. You know what I mean? So it's really, it's really fascinating. So can you talk about the power of automation and what people can do with
David Allen 34:19
Word and Excel talking about automation? Before Excel, you had 25 accountants trying to manage your business. True. Right before word, how many? How many text editors are stuck with? Did you have to have to review your handwritten stuff? You know, so yeah, automation is fabulous.
Alex Ferrari 34:44
There's a lot there's a lot of there's a lot of programs that can help you a lot of apps that can help you
David Allen 34:49
Yeah, but a lot of them are just taking much more work than they produce in terms of value. So they're like, Oh, I know you got a new project trying to figure out how to use that. There's that suck energy out of your ability to be able to do that really well. So, yeah, California is probably it's probably great borough world, like you're not for mine. Mine changes so rapidly, you know, and and I have to make constant intuitive decisions about things that a podcast, I could do them. But that day I'm also doing these other casualties. So I don't, I don't have a life as financially scheduled as yours is so that that wouldn't work for me. But it's a case by case. If it if it does, like yay, find anything like that. Now, but the main thing is to get your mind off of your calendar. Get your mind, as you said, if that gets your mind off at that VA, then it frees up your space to be able to focus on other things and show up and go okay, now I have this thing I need to do. But believe me, calendar didn't work for you and me you had with me to read do that? Because I said I'm not do this at 6pm. Amsterdam time. So you had to fill manage that little piece of your game, but that's fine.
Alex Ferrari 36:07
That's great. Yeah, I mean, it was a really quick little hiccup. And it's something that I could just go okay, click click done. All right. Now I know I'm, I'm on this time for David. Yeah. It's outside.
David Allen 36:19
Look, I'm an end user geek, anything small, black, high tech and expensive. I want. Give it to me. Now my mighty use ratio over the last 40 years has been probably, you know, 10 to one. Like, I didn't work or that didn't work. That was too much trouble or Oh, my God. Well, but there's the thing is the worst place to spend your time?
Alex Ferrari 36:44
Well, that's the thing. That's the thing, I think in life in general that. I mean, as I've gotten older, and I've done more, my businesses have become more complex. And I have run a bunch of things. And people are asking me, how do you output eight podcasts, nine podcasts a week, between all your shows, I'm like a lot of organization, a lot of optimization to make those things happen. And it's just trial and error. But I've started to just like, you know, this is a big problem. How do I optimize this? Great. How do I do I need to buy a software for that? Do I need to hire somebody to handle it for me? And how do I deal with all that, but that's optimization. And it took me years? years, I was editing my podcasts up until like four years ago? You know, because I could, because I could. And that was the that's one of the drawbacks of being able to do a lot of things is you do you fill up your day with just stuff that is not as important, like, you know, paying service?
David Allen 37:43
Come on, come on, but But don't you have the zen of enjoyment of just doing that dumb stuff?
Alex Ferrari 37:50
No, no, I'm way too old for that.
David Allen 37:52
Yeah, no, but it's a great way to relax, Alex, sometimes, especially if you've been writing something for, or while you're sure that kind of scheduling and then you need to go, Okay, I need to go snack on email, or I need to go snack on social media or I need to go I go,
Alex Ferrari 38:07
I go snack on meditation, I go snack of meditation. That's what like, you know, when if I want to send out I actually sent out I go in and just quiet the mind and drop my cortisol with the meditation, so but again, it's everything we're talking about for people listening. It is a case by case basis is not one thing fits all, as as we're explaining both Dave and I have very different worlds. So things that work for David might not work for me and things that work for me don't work for David. So it's all relative to what you're trying to get done. Would you agree?
David Allen 38:41
For sure, and who you are, and your context that you're in? Right now. I I've had very different systems over the last. You know, it's at age 77. I've had a lot of both lifestyles as well as system styles in terms of how they manage what I do. But early on, I was like, Okay, how to, like get this out of my mind? How do I make sure that I'm comfortable with this stuff? How to like, feel comfortable at the end of the day or the end of the night? Where I go, I'm clear. It's all about clarity. What do you need to do to be clear?
Alex Ferrari 39:20
That's, that's really, really important for people listening to understand is to clear the space because we get we just add so much crap onto ourselves to do and, yeah, we have to get,
David Allen 39:32
It's not crap. You just add stuff that are potential commitment, what you need to do is renegotiate them. The problem most of the stress comes from not too much to do it comes from not appropriately renegotiating with yourself what to do and what not to do. The glass is half empty or half full. So you know, Alex, you either feel comfortable talking to me right now, or uncomfortable about the 75 things you're not doing right now. All right. You just need to know what those 75 things are. Look at them. And I'm going to talk to David. Right? If you did that, then you renegotiated agreements with yourself. But most people don't even know what agreements they've made. Like, let's have any process of renegotiating with themselves. Well, that's kind of what we're to cover how to do that.
Alex Ferrari 40:22
So okay, so can you dive in a little bit to that the agreements that we make with ourselves, because that's something that a lot of people don't even understand that we do. Like, I need to get cat food. Let's go back to Cat design of cat food. We need to get cat that's, that's the thing that has to happen. I need to make sure I have milk.
David Allen 40:38
Alex, wait a minute. Talk to me about what popped into your head. You said you and your wife have a to do list. And he said there's stuff on there. Give me an example. If you're willing to share
Alex Ferrari 40:49
Oh, I mean, something as simple as like, oh, we need to get the we're doing some landscaping up front. So we need to get a bid a bid for the removal of the old crap that the old owner of the house left and we need to that's something we want to get done. Boom. Alright, great. So let's get to know
David Allen 41:06
Now you got a project already got a project? Right? Do you have a project list? Yep. Some list of the things you need to keep track of till they finish like that?
Alex Ferrari 41:15
Yeah, so Well, no, you see, the only thing
David Allen 41:19
Stop, stop, stop, stop. I just wanted to find out. Let me ask you some questions right now. Okay,
Alex Ferrari 41:25
Please go for it.
David Allen 41:26
You don't have that on the list. You don't have that somewhere you and or your wife are looking at appropriately as soon as you as often as you need to, to make sure you're okay with that commitment. So that's a commitment. You have to do that. And your next action if you had nothing else to do, but make sure that the landscape moved forward. What's the very next thing you or somebody needs to do to make that happen? Oh,
Alex Ferrari 41:51
Oh, we need to reach out to a contractor to figure out our landscape
David Allen 41:54
What is that? Wow, yeah, reach out? What is reach out mean? Is that to do?
Alex Ferrari 42:00
That's a research researching the phone numbers or calling friends or
David Allen 42:05
A web, you got a web web r&d Right now. Right?
Alex Ferrari 42:10
Exactly. So we gotta check that out first,
David Allen 42:13
who's gonna do that? You're your wife.
Alex Ferrari 42:15
Oh, that was probably going to be my wife. Because she's the one that do that kind of stuff. Because you know, she's more likely. So she would do that next
David Allen 42:23
What's the next step, are you gonna find out whether that's her or you?
Alex Ferrari 42:27
No she knows it's her. So then from there, it would have been okay, here the numbers are you have a waiting for you. So she was she gets that done first, then she'll kick me the numbers. She's like, You better
David Allen 42:41
Got it. She's got the next action. Do you have a list waiting on what you're waiting on from her? Or in life? Do you have a waiting for list?
Alex Ferrari 42:52
No, I don't have a waiting for list
David Allen 42:55
Got it. Okay. So if you want to know how to appropriately engage with your commitments, what's the commitment? You know, improve the landscape. What's the next step? Oh, my wife has a great. Are you tracking that? Does it matter to you whether she comes back to you about that? Or whatever? Okay. So what do you need to do to get landscaping off your mind? Alex, you haven't done any of those yet. You haven't put it put the project in someplace, you know, that you'll you'll look at as often as you need to be reminded, you know, weekly, we say that, generally, I'd be looking weekly. How are we doing that landscape? Here? Right? And then you haven't put the waiting for someplace that you go. Be there in a, you know, a live conversation tonight before we have spaghetti? What are you doing on that? I know you're trying to click back on me right now. But I'm going this is if you want me to coach you, but both recognize what your agreements with yourself are and how to appropriately engage with them telling you how to do that. Okay, go for it.
Alex Ferrari 44:05
No. All right. So with that. So with that said, though, that I think is not a priority in our life of things that we need to get done. It's something we like to get done. I put it on a list of like, when we get these other ideas until it is right. And so like until my wife walks up on one day, she's like, I cannot stand the front of the house. This needs to get done. A great
David Allen 44:32
And why should they get to that point? Exactly. Exactly. My point, My point exactly.
Alex Ferrari 44:43
I see what you say, Well, I hope that was like a little training session for everybody listen to a little quick. So a little quick training session. And we talked a little bit about the weekly review. Can you talk about that a little bit more in depth.
David Allen 44:57
Well Are there times in your life you need to look at all the stuff you've committed to? And all the stuff you might want to do about it and go yes or no or are on, okay? There have been times in my life where I had to do that almost daily, because things were changing so fast. And so many new inputs were coming in, and I had to recalibrate, refocus, reprioritize. And sometimes, like now, at my age, or every two or three weeks, it's okay, because I've got some, I still have some big projects, but I don't need to review them or recalibrate them necessarily more than every couple of weeks. But once a week, you need to step back and sort of lift up the balloon and take a look from a larger perspective. Anybody who's listening or watching this, who's looking at their calendar over the last one or two days, has done that. You said, Wait a minute, where am I? Probably Alex today, you said, Oh, okay, I got this thing with David, Tim Parker. And then I have these other things, and then tomorrow, whatever. So whatever you did, to sort of lift yourself up and take a look at a larger horizon to locate yourself in faith in time is just necessary. If you want to have a clear head. These things don't bite you in the butt later on, or whatever, or, you know, come on part of my weekly review, as I look at the last two weeks and see what's happening with catch all the OSS right, oh, shoot, I should have or I need to, or still need to, and I'm looking at the next, not just the next day, or two or three, I'm looking at the next 2 3 4 weeks, I'm looking at the next seven months. Like I do now, I'm being invited to keynote now, everywhere. You got travel coming up over about four or five months, you better, you better scheduling now. They're true. If you want to upgrade you one thing. So so a lot of stuff I'm doing it's called packet, how often do I need to step back and kind of look at my world, and then recalibrate that, to make sure I'm not missing any key things I need to do. That's all the week do is we just over the years, it's every seven days, that kind of average for people, you know, in terms of their life and their lifestyle or their speed of life that they're doing. And then every seven days, they probably need to do that. But it's another not a hard rule. It's just when are you gonna do that?
Alex Ferrari 47:27
Well, it was it was a really great example of this exactly what you're talking about is I had a commitment coming through an email. And they said, Oh, you know, you gotta be here at this date. And this time, I'm like, great. And in my mind, which is a crappy, a crappy place to store stuff. I said, Oh, yeah, I gotta put that on my calendar. But let me get this other stuff done first. So I just kept doing that for a few days. And then I got another email from that person about something else. And I go, Oh, dammit. That's right. I got this stain I gotta go to Is it is it is it today, I freaked out because I thought it was today. And it's not today. And I'm like, when is it like, oh, it's two weeks from now my Oh, thank God. And the second because of the pain that I felt that I thought, oh my god, it's today, I ran to my calendar and put it in really quickly and like, Okay, I don't have to think about it anymore. And it's just, it's the procrastination of that, it would have been so much easier if I would have just the moment it happened. Take those two minutes, put it in, don't think about it again. Because it could have been
David Allen 48:36
Alex's the cognitive muscle you need to train. Most people are not trained to think that way. You weren't born thinking that way. So you act that you weren't born thing, know how to cook spaghetti. You weren't born thinking how to speak Italian you weren't born. You're not born knowing how to do what I'm talking about. You actually have to learn. And there you know, it's not hard. Not like a new language or a new technology you need to learn, need to learn how to think about what's got my attention, what to do about that in such a way that your mind can let it go. But see, you can't fool your mind, Alex. It knows whether you have a system you would trust. If it doesn't, it will keep bothering you. Return to the mortar.
Alex Ferrari 49:29
That's very true. Or while you're interviewing someone like yourself popping in the back of your head. You're just like, we gotta get that landscaping. Done like how why did that? I wasn't even thinking about that. Why did that pop in my head?
David Allen 49:42
Can we graduate this level? Because I love the focus of your business. I'm going to sort of self disclose a little bit about you know, my own spiritual awareness and practices and education and training. A lot of what we're about here is Completion. And a lot of that about blower here, you've taken on a body you've incarnated or you've invited, basically, to make sure you've handled completion of what you've created before. call it karma, color, whatever you want. And then you also need to be accountable for where you put your creative energy. So completion and production, or, if you will, outcome and action are the essence of why you're on the planet right now. You're here to engage with your world. In such a way that you learn about engagement, and where that came from? And what's driving, your soul is driving it by the way. You know, it's, it's the one that's got you that wakes you up in the morning function, blood does all that other stuff. But it's here. Hi, Alex, what are you engaging in right now? And how are you dealing with that? So the more that you're willing to acknowledge that a whole lot of what my life here is about is about completion, and creation? What do I need to complete? And how do I be accountable for what I create? So I didn't mean to step off the block too far. No, I liked this, I liked you stepping back, when it's the focus on, you know, what I get your podcasts are all about. So I just want to let you know, that's why I can't stop doing what I'm doing. Because all of my stuff, it's about acknowledging what you've created, making sure you get completion or appropriate engagement with it. So that then you're free to then create and then be accountable for what you're producing out there with your creative energy, because you can't stop even though you're eating.
Alex Ferrari 52:00
In, that's something really important for anyone listening, that it's not only about business, what you're saying is so important, because we are here for a purpose, a mission, to engage to overcome, but you have to do things and get things done. If I didn't have the systems that I have in place, I couldn't produce the out, put that I do on a weekly basis. And yet, then I wouldn't be able to help as many people as I help with these shows, and get this information out into the world and help other souls get down the road that they'd have to have to get down. So it's not just about like, oh, I need to optimize myself to make more money. It's not that it's about optimizing yourself, to be able to do more while you're here. And to and to actually engage in the life that you signed up for, as a soul.
David Allen 52:52
Make more money, nothing wrong with that. But there's nothing wrong with it. That's, that's maybe what you need to do in order to fulfill what you're trying to do. And what you'll learn in the process of trying to do that is really what you're here to do.
Alex Ferrari 53:05
Exactly. And then there's deeper conversations about why how we find out what we're here to do and all that kind of stuff. But I love that that's you know, because I imagine at this stage in your life, you could easily just retire and not have to work another day in your life if you didn't want to.
David Allen 53:20
I can't retire.
Alex Ferrari 53:23
Okay. You love it. You love it. I mean, I'm the same way like I, you know, I could I just love doing this. I could do one a week. People like how much? I only do one podcast episode a week, what would you do? I'm like, if I only had one show to do a week, I would have no idea what to do with myself. Like, my baseline is like, I've been lifting 500 pounds, so long that if you'd like all you got to do is lift 100 I'm like 100 What am I going to do with the rest of my time? It's just the way I'm made up. So it is it's fascinating, to say the least, David, I can I could talk to you for hours about this. I really do appreciate you you coming on? Where can people find out more about you get your book and find out the work that you're doing?
David Allen 54:14
Well, I'll go to you know, getting things done.com If you want to see some two minute, three minute, four minute videos of me talking about spins about various aspects of this, as well as my three TEDx talk or whatever, go to getting things done.com/youtube You'll see lots of stuff you can see. You might want to enjoy it.
Alex Ferrari 54:35
David, I appreciate you my friend. Thank you for all the years of helping people get things done, man, I you know you've been a good a power for good in this world. You're doing God's work, sir. You're doing God's work. So I appreciate you, my friend.
David Allen 54:49
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