03 December 2006

What I learned from David Allen

I just finished reading David Allen's famous book "Getting Things Done".

Fortunately, I am already doing most of the things David talks about, just because of my natural habits and because I've been reading 43Folders.

I want to note the new ideas I learned from finally sitting down and reading David's book.
  1. Top item first - Don't "emergency" sort, that is, pick and choose what you feel like doing first. Work systematically from top to bottom, which enforces discipline.
  2. Embracing the concept of next-action - I'm really good at getting to "inbox zero", i.e. plowing through all my emails down to a near empty inbox. But I'm bad at doing my real work. So I should make a list of next-actions and plough through them just like they are email. The part that gets me really hung up is trying to do something unbounded. "Solve research problem" is not a next-action, but "try to derive X for 1 hour" is a doable next-action.
  3. Really doing the weekly review - This means going through all lists (projects, waiting-for, next-actions) and organizing them so that you have a strategic plan for next week
  4. Higher order planning - David calls nitty-gritty planning "runway" and "10,000 ft." Career goals, life goals, etc are at 30,000 and 50,000 ft. I've gotten proficient at "runway" stuff so now I need to integrate higher order goals into my plans.

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