Part of the ActiveWords odyssey has been getting to know and become friends with truly great people. I am honored to be a friend of David Allen. I became a fan of David’s ideas and thoughts a number of years ago. David and I met one Sunday morning in Tampa after he had taken a red-eye in from the coast and was headed to New College in Sarasota.
Since then his star has risen spectacularly, and his ideas are part of the best thinking of modern American business culture. David has also become a big fan of ActiveWords, and uses and talks about it all the time. When I told him I was going to be speaking at the BlogBusinessSummit, he invited me to come and listen to his new one day talk called GTD/The RoadMap.
We are at the Fairmont in San Jose, the room is jammed with people, and I am sitting next to a lovely young woman named Lori Lobert, who is the director of training for a company in San Mateo called Digital Impact. I just gave Lori the 5 minute demo of ActiveWords, and now David is talking about his ideas!
“You always teach what you need to learn the most”…David Allen
It’s also funny who comes to these seminars. I just saw Evan Williams and Mitch Kapor. Mitch looks great, he lost a ton of weight, looks 20 years younger. Evan has a new company, “Odeo” which is about creating tools for podcasting!
David reminds me a bit of what Mick Jagger must be like. He’s a bit of a rock star, and has a huge amount of energy. Right now he is speaking at clip that requires perfect attention! A guy just introduced himself to me, and said we had talked about ActiveWords! No clue, too many people!
But now we begin…GTD…David has outlined his take on what he thinks his stuff is reall about! It’s funny that he would have to do it, but it is almost like the concept of what we say, what we think we say and what people hear and what they think they hear!
“A systematic though process and organzing principle that achieves results with a minimum input and pressure” Getting Things Done…
Why a RoadMap?
We’re on a trip that we’ve never been on before, we’re in unfamiliar territory
We can use a tool set to assist in knowing..
Where we are
Where we are going
How we’re getting there
Usting the Trip Guide…new workbook…
No right way to use it..use what’s useful…
It’s a framework for thinking, not an end product!
David has a great rapport with his audience, this is a lot of fun! Everyone is laughing at some of his ideas.
Scibble-constructive irreverence is good! Right it down..Cognitive artifacts…i.e. pen and paper.
Core dump…salvation occurs…
Best way to have a good idea, is to have lots of them…Linus Pauling.
Process it afterwards..(projects, actions, etc.
Mind like water…work as a martial art!
Horizontal: The five keys to positive engagment
Vertical: The Six Horzons of Focus
Purpose and principles
Goals and Objectives
Areas of focus
Implement the Roadmap
Setting up and working your system
Getting it to stick
“Do you need help to stick with what you have learned?” Yup!
The funny part as I am writing and thinking about this is that I recognzine my failure in more than one thing, but the key one being the “Weekly Review”
One key difference between the “Road Map” and the prior seminar that I went to is that this one assumes a certain familiarity with David’s ideas, and that you will complete the various exercies on your own. I would be curious if after the fact that people do this!
David is really high on the concept of MindMaps, and uses MindManager all the time! When he used ActiveWords to trigger the oppening of a MindMap, it was a eureka moment for me! I have come to believe that anyone who is speaking, or running a business, needs to use MindManager! If they just rely on lists, they are basically screwed.
David has been going through the workbook, and has given us post it tabs so that we can tab pages. He is assuming that we are going to have ideas today and that we will then go to those pages.
Another new idea…David has implemented and outlined a business case about mapping both horizontally and vertically. He has taken real cases from real people and given us an idea about how to implement it.
Final piece is FAQ’s, nice touch.
Guidelines and Assumptions:
The more you play, the bigger the pay!
Paying attention to what has your attention is productive
It’s OK to commit to nothing during the seminar
Implementing any of this material produces great results.
Your seminar = what you tell yourself during the seminar
Your focus immediately and automatically affets your perception and performance!
Start noticing what is on your mind…
Building a list of projects, something that can get done in less than a year!
We all have are reference point as to when we were on, really on!
GTD…The productive experience…
inspired, and (highest learning space)
getting things done…with a system to achieve and maintain it.
Do we know how to get back in control when we really get out of control!
Mind like water…= perfectly appropriate responses to, and engagement with, whatever is present.
Your ability to generate power is directly proporitonal toyour ability to concentrate.
Your ability to concentrate is directly propotional to your ability to elimintate distraction!
Productive-seeming behavirous occur automtacialy in crisis..
But then they are:
“Stress of infinitive opportunity….”
GTD is about a sustainable way to live your life!
Rapid refocusing on the right things, at the right horizon, at the right time, before a crisis demands it..
Perspective is your slipperiest and most valuable commodity. Methods for gaining and maintaing it are your most important tools.
It is possible to be buried with things to do, and have nothing on your mind! (but it’s not free)
You must know that you have captuted, clarified and organized your committments at all horzions
and will engage consciously with them as often as you need.
Your mind does not have a mind.
It is handicapped in its ability to remember and remind.
But until it trusts there is a better system, it cannot let go of the job.
The Matix of Self-Managment
Horizontal: Getting focused and in control of what there is to do at any one time and place!
Now we are woking with a matrix, it would be nice to be able to switch to tablet mode and create the maxtix that we are working with!
Which of these is the most important thing to do?
1. Identity what’s incomplete
2. Decide the actions you need to take about your committments
3. Organize what you need to be reminded about
4. Review all your options for action.
5. Do something you’re committed to do.
No better horizon to purpose as compared to another. Key is arranging your own focus!
Closer I am to zero, better I can deal with surprise!
If you don’t give things that have your attention the appropriate attention, they demand, they will make of your attention what they deserve.
Unmanaged commtments are stored in psychic ram, which has…
is a terrible office
has no sense of past and future (so everything not being done now creates inner conflict and a sense of failure)
Appropriately dealing with “open loops”
eliminates drag on the system and the psyche
frees up attention for higher level thinking and creativity..
Write stuff down, one per line
stream of conciousness, no analysis, order, sequeence or priorities
go for quanity
No committment, can discard later
refer to trigger list..
Automatic price you pay when you break an agreement, even an agreement with yourself!
To manage what has your attention, you must, know what has your attention, then you have to “Un-make your agreements…”
When you know how many agreements you have made, you will make fewer agreements!
Unmake your agreements,
Keep your agreements, or
A renegotiated agreement is not a broken agreement! (you need to know what you are not doing….)
Your system can remember better than your brain!
You can only feel good about you’re not doing when you know what you are not doing!
Use your mind to think about things not to keep thinking of them. ….Stick with a simple list!
Keep adding to the mind clearning list…
Keep it from being an incomplete list of undone stuff..
Stuff = what has our attention but is still out of focus (unclear what it means to us and what we’re going to do about)…
Clearing up stuff…
Is this something that I am committed to doing something about?
What’s the succesful outcome?
What’s the next action?
Not what we wrote down in the prior exercise…
More clarity in what’s needed…
If not, I must determine if it is:
Something to incubate…
Transformation of Stuff…
Key is what are the next actions…Critical idea within his ideas…
Key is to compare outcome to next actions, as in if I understand what the desired outcome is, do I understand what the next actions are that I need to accomplish to get to the desired outcome!
Putting more of the right attention on what had your attention, as compared to what had your attention! Everyone goes through the same process, just different content.
Multiple levels of “Stuff”…(in order of how obvious)
Runway… = minute to minute inputs about which we need to do something, but haven’t decided yet what, exactly what we are going to do!
10,000 ft… problems and situations about which we have yet to describe a probjet to get closure or resolution..
20,000 ft. …an area you are responsible for, or focused on, that keeps gnawing at you to improve or change in some way, but you haven’t decided what to do about it yet…
30,000 ft. … You want to achieve something substantial but haven’t determine what needs to be done, by when, to make that occur.
40,000 ft. ….Possibilities for choices that could significantly impact lifestyle and career, but we haven’t decicded yet what we need to decide.
50,000 ft. ….Situations, challenges, or opportunities emerging that imply decision about general life direction or values…
Inefficient systems drain energy..
Most people slip off the game, by not correctly identifying the next action, and by failing to identify where the next action occurs..
(Note to self…I need to think through better the next action piece…and where it occurs. perhaps the arugment is that when one seems to live on line, then it seems like everything gets done on line!
Effective structures maximize flow and input.
To manage execution with the least possible physical and psychic effort, where something is must map to what it means to you.
The complexity of your systems is inversely proportional to the horizon you are managing ( i.e. the more mundane the horizon, the more sophisticated system required)
Great MindMap right now about Organizing Categories…
All you need is one list of projects..
Maybe another list of projects delegated, kind of glorified waiting for list…
Just got back from lunch, had a great time talking with Mitch Kapor and Jerry Michalski. Such bright guys with great minds!
Next Actions…can easily be organized by context.
Most of have between 120 & 200 next actions.
The complexity of the actions required need to be matched by a complex system.
If no due date, then things need to be done as soon as possible!
Due by, do by, and due on! Keep date specific info on related red flag.
Due dates on projects, not on next actions. Real key is the daily and weekly review.
DA..doesn’t schedule things with himself unless it is within the next ten days. Key is the differences as to how you deal with Next Actions.
Hard wire your intuitive judgments. You don’t have time to think, you need to have intuitively.
The fundamental engagement question…
What’s the next action?
(What has to happen first?)
(What does doing look like?)
(Where does it happen?)
Once the next action is determined…
Do it ( if it can be done in less than two minutes…)
The Six Horizons of Focus
What is the purpose
What is the reason for this?
Why am I doing this?
Are there situations with other people where we need clarity?
What are the most important standards to maintain?
What are the critical behaviors for success?
What would wild success look, sound, feel like?
Create a new treasure map?
Goals & Objectives
What are the key outcomes and objectives to achieve to make the vision show up?
(The remarkable thing about what David teaches is the common sense component! Everything he talks about makes great common sense, the big issue is simply, how does one modify one’s behavior to get it done!) His goal in this seems to be to show how straight ahead this is?
Areas of focus
What are the key areas of responsibility in my work?
What are the key areas on which I need to keep a focus in my life?
(In each case we have been given time to do stuff in our seminar work books! hence the lack of content in this blog. I am no sure anyone cares what I write about those hopefully unique lists in my life.)
Outcomes that require more than one step that can be done in a year.
What should you be looking at every week.
“Project list is the most critical list for stress free productivity.” David Allen
Final thing to do before you get it done. Not until all done and you have unpacked!
What are the next single visible actions that you have to take?
As soon as something is on your radar, becomes a project, using recurring events.
What other single step actions are there?
Play at the runway level?
(note to self, I need to figure out how to script the type of action sheets that he has done…maybe it has to be some kind of Wiki that I can replicate on to my computer).
Your system is only as good as what you can maintain when you are sick with the flu.
All other pieces should be kept vetically in the project plan, i.e. debate between project and sub-project.
Sit down….about an hour, end of work week, build in,
Look at your calendar, maybe look at expenses, look at all the triggers.
Do it whenever you can do it!
Break down, work review/home review …
Actions that don’t get done, but stay on the list….
Don’t archieve your actions, rather archieve your projects.
Different things to look at, at different times.
What Process at What Horizon…
How do you go set it up! Set up the capture system!
In basket, junior legal pads, loose leaf systems.
Older you get, more good ideas that you get, but no necessarily dependent on where you are and when you get the idea.
Set up calendar and action managment system
Set up ad hoc list functionaily
Set up functioning referce system
Structure personal, office and home thinking/working stations.
Need your own space…world is going to home office.
Populate the system.
Complete mind sweep..
Process all the RoadMap notes into your system
Ensure projects and actions for finalzing setup.
Structure (calendar?) system.
Daily processing time..
Weekly operational review..
Set time on Friday morning…
Elevated -horizon events…
Collect and empty in-baskets every 24–48 hours (one hour/day for processing)
Do the weekly review every 1–2 weeks. (one-two hours/week.
Pay appropriate attention.
Getting it to stick?
How do you ensure that you will automatically engage and stick with the process?
You identity so completely with an outcome or an experience these behaviours create that you must do them in order to have it.
Q: Why don’t we change and stick with it?
Because we don’t see how to get and stay there, and we don’t feel compelled enough to do it.
Until you identify sufficently with the experience of “mind like water”, you won’t care how to get there, nor will you really feel like doing cosistently what you need to do to stay there.
Getting it to stick…
We are unconciously made conscious of information.
We notice what’s relevant.
Relevance = focus
Primary focus = identification
Comparing external reality and internal reality…
Excitement versus Nervousnes…
Q: So what’s the best way to create sufficient identification?
A: Reprogram the neurology thorugh reptitive involvment with the new program. ( You did it enough so that you couldn’t stand the not doing it.) Visualize, 60% visualize, 40% training…
Images: Outcome focusing, visualiztoin, affirmations, ideal scenarios.
Write out what the successful event will be. Test is, will you do it?
Models: Coaches, mentors, listen/read/look.
Activties: Acting as-if, physical engagement.
Implementing the RoadMap
Pay attention to what has your attention
Capture all your stuff in trusted buckets
Clarifyyour focus on them at the appropriate levels
Decide outcomes and next actions for all your stuff.
Put the results in a complete, current, total life reminder system which you review reqularly.
Build suffient identification with where and how you want to be.
Trust your intution on your action choices.
So, now, what most has your attention about the Roadmap.
What ws most noticeable about your experience today.
What most interests/intrigues/attracts youabout any of this going forward?
At the end of the day, David had us do a dazzling exercise with thread and a paper clip…you have got to see it..