MBG: What's the biggest time-strain that we're probably most unaware of?
DA: Avoiding decisions and thinking about potentially meaningful stuff, and therefore constantly being distracted and tied down with incomplete and unclear inventories of what we know we still need to be dealing with.
MBG: How do you measure GTD success? Is it necessary to follow all the principles of GTD in order for it to help us?
DA: Success with GTD simply means an improvement in the sense of control and perspective. A tiny bit can help a ton.
MBG: GTD in a marriage/relationship….How does GTD apply? Is it necessary for others in our lives (loved ones, colleagues, bosses) to understand GTD and our use of it in order for us to be successful?
DA: The more the people you live and work with closely apply GTD, the easier all your interactions and mutual activities will be, and the quality of your experiences and results will improve. The less people around you do GTD, the more critical it will be for you to, so that you have clean boundaries between what’s yours and what’s theirs.
MBG: The "mind like water" simile is very powerful and appropriate for a lot of our readers. Can you explain how you apply it in your life and help others apply it?
DA: It’s pretty simple. Having your psyche totally free to give 100% attention toward what you want, the way you want to, is the optimal way to be "in your zone." But if you don’t give appropriate attention to the things that grab your attention, they will then take more of your attention than they deserve; and it then clutters up your psychic sand box. So I just notice what has my attention and do what’s necessary to get it quickly onto "cruise control." How to do that is what we share with everyone we coach and teach.
MBG: How do we keep from pushing aside the less enjoyable actions in lieu of the ones we like?
DA: Ensure that you have everything to do decided down to the physical action level, so you’ve optimized your feeling of potential success in getting engaged with them. And make the really fun actions on your list a reward for getting the more unpleasant ones handled.
MBG: Can we focus too much on the next action when technology and accessibility can cause work life to bleed into personal life?
DA: You only need to focus on next actions enough to get everything off your mind besides what you want to be doing and focusing on.
MBG: How do you "shut-off" and relax?
DA: I have various forms of play I can pick from; and, for the most part, by applying the GTD principles, I stay relaxed.
MBG: You have a lot of great quotes in GTD – do you have any favorites?
DA: "My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton
MBG: You’ve worked with some amazing people and companies – what have you learned from them? Anything in particular that we’d find surprising?
DA: That everyone is in this game together, with universally the same issues and opportunities. I haven’t found anyone (at least of those who have to keep track of more than one agreement at a time) who can’t use GTD to great advantage. Nor have I ever found anyone who applied the techniques that didn’t experience a greater sense of clarity and control.
MBG: What’s your favorite guilty indulgence?
DA: Doing ikebana arrangements in my yard at sunset with a glass of fabulous wine.
For more on David Allen and Getting Things Done:
Follow David Allen on Twitter
Getting Things Done on Amazon.com