My name is John golden from sales pop online says magazine and pipeliner CRM, and today I am joined by David Allen, who is the author of getting things done? The art of stress-free productivity and he’s joining me from Amsterdam in Holland, the Netherlands, whichever you like to call it hey, do you know it Oh glad to be here, John thanks for the invitation yeah.
So David tell me your book, as we were just discussing earlier. Your book is sold, you know over 2 million copies and has been translated into, I think you said 38 languages or something so obviously it hit a nerve when you release this book about, you know getting things done and the art of stress-free productivity, okay, so productivity. Rarely do people associate productivity with stress free right, so tell me a little bit about what you mean by stress-free productivity.
Well, if you see Olympic athletes before they go into the final game, what do you see them doing? Stretching and relaxing mm-hmm, so the most relaxed state, where you’re, totally present and relaxed not distracted, is the most productive state to hit a golf ball from to do an Olympic event from to have a difficult conversation from or to have a conversation with a sales client And I’m really from right, where there’s nothing else on your mind, you’re totally present, so you can be present with them to find out who they are, what rings their bell and and engage with them appropriately.
So it’s about appropriate engagement really. So what do I need to do to get my head clear and the problem these days is: if most people are you trying to use their head as their office in your head to crap the office mm-hmm, so you know you’re trying to keep track of. If you try to keep track of more than four things, you’re screwed, you can be driven by latest and loudest as opposed to strategy. So there’s a real note for your salespeople.
I’m sorry! You got more than four things in your head. You will be driven by latest and let us not by who you ought to call right now or what you ought to do to spend time to think about. You know your strategies, yeah, and I know if I did. I love that point there, because one of the things that I find nowadays is like people love to tell us, and we all do love to say how we’re far busier than we ever before.
Right and – and I always say, are we really or are we far more distracted than we ever were before, because you know now we have a thousand things popping up on our screens and our phones and everything we can. We can distract ourselves that the you know every nanosecond if we want yeah it’s. The John is the stress of opportunity. Mm-Hmm, you know you’re getting relaxed if you get into a crisis, if your house or your apartment come, you know, goes into flame trust me you’re, going to relax because there’s only one thing you could do call live survive.
What’s the next step? Where do I go? What’s my outcome called get out of this place? What do you need to do and tires on your car and your taxes for the year and the person you need to hire all that all those get put on the back burner, so most people actually move into their zone and a crisis. I just discovered how you get into your zone without having to wait for a crisis to get you there. So so, let’s talk about that, then how do you, how do you get into into your zone without needing a crisis to get you there? You take everything that has your attention little or big, and you get it out of your head.
You write it down. You stick it into someplace that you know you’ll see sooner or later, and then sooner than later you decide. What’s the next action on cat food? What’s the next action on higher VP? What’s the next action on get a life? What’s the next action on? Should I get divorce or not, and you need to make those kind of clarification decisions so there’s five stages to how you get anything under control? First of all, you identify the stuff, that’s not in control mm-hmm! You know that’s the capture step, then you clarify okay.
What do I need to do about mom’s birthday? What do I need to do about hiring the my EP VP? What do I need to do about a potential divorce? You need to make those decisions which most people avoid like the plague, and then you say: okay, what’s the fair, and once I decide that I need to call my sister about mom’s birthday. I need to my divorce. I need to talk to my life partner about you know. What is he or she think about what we ought to do about this right now, and are you okay by that? So that’s a conversation so anyway clarifying the next action and the outcomes desired.
Step 2. Step 3. Organize the results. You can’t finish the thing the moment you think about it, mark a reminder of who you need to call what you need to talk to people about step before step back and reflect and review the whole inventory of the 16 errands. You need to run the six things you need to talk to your life partner, about the the forty-three things you need to do at your computer. Whatever you better take a look at all that inventory before you can feel comfortable about what you then decide step 5.
You need to review it step 4 and then step 5 is engage. What do I decide to do out of all that? Crap mmhmm yeah, all that stuff, that’s out of my head. I look at it, but most people are pretty smart and all you have to do is take a look at all your errands and you make a decision about which one to do all you have to do is take a look at all the stuff that you Ought to be writing on your computer or drafting or or doing whatever, and some part of you is going to be.
You know a good bit smarter, but the problem is if you’re trying to use your head as your office, which is a crappy office, and you got all that stuff banging around in there you’re not going to make good decisions about it, yeah yeah! No, it’s a highly it’s a highly cluttered and very disorganized office for most people. If you do so it it’s interesting, so part of a part of what you are really saying is I mean I think it’s a very.
If I go back to one of the first things you said because I always think this is a really important and critical piece is the things that are outside of your control right. We focus a lot and fixate a lot on things that we have absolutely no control over as opposed to you know it narrowing it down to things that we do have control away. Why do you think people do that? I don’t know a lot of people get addicted to worry, how stress and so they’ll find something to stress about whether it’s the weather or your boss, or your teenager or whatever.
But then you have to decide see. My mission in life is to create a planet where there’s no problems only projects mm-hmm all right, you give me anything, that’s a problem. I say why do you consider it a problem? It’s because you think it needs to be different than it is you’re, just not engaged making yourself nice, it’s quite simply. So what what are the things that you’ve got on your mind? What are the things that you need to manage and get appropriately engaged with? It? Doesn’t mean you’re going to change, the planet doesn’t mean you’re, going to fix all the things you want.
It just needs to be it. You need to get appropriately engaged with it, so you feel comfortable about what am I going to do it? What am I doing about my neighbor? That’s complaining about the tree that I just planted. Now that’s going to block their view right, there’s a project that you can call that a problem I say: look, what’s your project get resolution with neighbor not needs to go in our project list.
What’s your next step, talk to your attorney, talk to your landscaper talk to their landscaper em. What’s the next step, and most people avoid all that? That’s why that’s what’s creating so much stress out there? They have so many things they could be thinking about would like to be doing. You know coming after your parent and your kids two years old, but you want to get them into Harvard how many of your of your neighbors have already figured out that the the workshops their five year old, is going to then you’re missing out on.
Oh, my god, and so the stress of opportunity is what’s creating a whole lot of what the stress is going on out there see the world is fine, look outside your door right now, John yeah, the world’s not overwhelmed! It’s not confused. It’s only you based upon your relationship to it. I just figured out the algorithm or the formulas about what do you need to decide think about Park as an extra external system for yourself that allows you to stay clearer about all the stuff you’re engaged in and what do the things that I saw interesting on Your on your bio is so you you’re a black belt in karate right I was in my twenties.
I mean I’m still kills. I can still kill you in a second but you’re. A martial artists, yeah, I’m a martial artist to you so so be. We could have an interesting sparring session, but just going back to what you were saying there, I mean the essence of martial arts is that you really do have to calm yourself focus and get yourself into a calm state and when you’re in a calm and a Focused state, you can achieve lots and lots of great things, but but, like you, like you say in in what you were saying about your book, but you can’t focus on ten things at once.
Right all right. She could just get knocked out right. You can’t multitask, you can you, can you can switch tasks fast? Yes, you know come on John, if you get attacked by four people: you’re not going to fight for people that wants you one at a time, but very quick refocus, and so you can learn to refocus quickly. What you don’t want to is try to manage things that you can’t complete the loops while you’re dealing with them.
So then you’ve got all these open loops that keep pulling on your psyche that that prevent you. You know if you’re worried about three people that might jump you from the next alley that guy’s going to hit you in the face, because you you just got distracted right right so that that’s the that’s essentially that’s why I call this a martial art. That’s sort of the art of life of managing the flow of life’s work is, is how do I keep track of all the things that I’ve allowed into my echo system that are taking my attention and how do I free up my attention from them? Not to not to ignore them but to make sure I’m appropriately engaged with them.
In other words, if, if I don’t know do you have any pets, yeah yeah, dog, okay right? So if cat food pops it to your mind more than once, you are inappropriately engaged with your cat. If we need cat food, if you go to the fridge and put it on a post-it on the fridge that whoever goes the store, they combine canned food, we’ll get it next. It’s off your mind mmm. But meanwhile, if you haven’t done that, I need cat food.
Will pop in your mind, at 3 o’clock in the morning in the bed, when you can’t do scrap about so again, unless you’ve externalized all of these things, so that you can evaluate them, you objectify them clarify them. Have them as an inventory for your in. You know for how you evaluate things on a regular basis. You can’t take a power nap you’re, going to take an avoidance. Nap yeah have a have a power beer you’re going to take an avoidance beer.
You look like the same beer. They’re very different. One is hey. Look at all that stuff. I’m going to have a beer instead. Is that yours, better than a whole lot of other things right, I enjoy it. It’s great fabulous, but so I mean and and and part of this is right is, I think, sometimes our people get caught up in this idea of like so. My desk is piled with and I’ve got all this stuff going on and I’m so busy and it’s almost it’s almost an avoidance of what you’re talking about here and it’s really prioritizing right and really looking at what needs to get done and where and looking at What what are the important things that you need to do and get those out there? You know China.
I want to be I’m going to be a bit of an asshole about this and say yes, people focus too much on priorities. Mm-Hmm. You know a lot of people should not set goals, they need to clean their toilet. No, if your day-to-day is out of control, don’t try to think about bigger stuff. No one’s going to do is frustrate you and create more guilt, which you don’t need. It’s going to undermine your productivity, so use it to be in control of whatever has got your attention.
Little big, personal professional. If I ask you hey, what’s on your mind, you say where I want to be ten years from now: it’s a fabulous! What’s your desired outcome, or do you want to be ten years from now and I’ll? Have you just define that as best you can, let’s say great? What’s the next step, if you had nothing else to do right now, but to move on that to get closure on get progress on it move the needle, would you go to a computer right now? Would you go to your life partner right now? Would you go to the hardware store right now? What’s next so outcome, an action become the zeros and ones of productivity.
Right like what am I trying to produce with this client? What what would be that you know if you’re in a sales context? What do I want to have true an hour from now mm-hmm after this conversation? Great? So what’s the next step? What do I need to do about that? So this is a whether you’re a nine year old or the CEO of a global corporation I’ll coach. Both it’s the same questions hi. Would you like to experience for the party today great? What do we need to do? Hi? You know.
What do you want to have true in terms of your your the company you’re, trying to run right now? Look at we’re. What’s the big picture when you grow up, what do you want to be great? What’s the next step, who’s got it. So these are the same questions. It’s it’s. Basically, the thought process or the cognitive process, the thinking, a decision-making process that allows you to clarify all the stuff you will out come into your ecosystem, mm-hmm, and so basically, what you’re saying is, I you know, obviously to think you want to achieve, and then you Need to actually take action and look at the next best step towards achieving that.
Well, you don’t have to take that action, but you did define what it is. You don’t want to avoid it because you don’t know what it is right. You just don’t do it because they’re other and more important things right now, but it’s still on your list mm-hmm to do when I have time and is to keep evaluating that against all the other things that you might need or want to be doing, but that You don’t end that process, that’s not something that you put to bed and never have to keep doing no you’re doing that forever.
Mm-Hmm. Every time you decide to do something you just decided to do a to not do a lot of other things, and – and I think and that’s that I think, is something that I hope everybody takes note of, because that’s one of the things I talked to people A lot about is when you make choices, and this is why I believe, but a lot of people don’t like making choices, because when you choose something you by default, unchoose other things right and we done and we like to have all of our solutions.
If you don’t make decisions, you just chose not to make decisions about any of that right. So you’re constantly, and it’s not a matter of whether you’re making decisions not to know which decisions are you’re making. If I’m avoiding deciding what to do about a potential divorce or about hiring somebody and more about what to do with this client, that’s still a decision. You can’t stop decision-making you’re just making.
That is that the right decision, or is that the best decision is that the decision that will get this off your mind outsourcing to face yeah. Actually what you need to do is is add source. You need to source your intuition mm-hmm. That says: okay, given all that stuff, that I have to do, what is my still small little inner voice telling me is the thing that will give me the most value. Take a nap, have a beer call that client sit down and draft this proposal now.
So I that’s why I say I tend to push up against people who have a simplistic answer to how do you set priorities, because it’s so subtle? So as soon as you decide to take a nap, you decided that was more important than anything else in your life yeah, but you can only feel good about what you’re not doing when you know what you’re not doing John. So that’s the problem most people have is they have no clue of how many things they’ve committed to that they’re not aware of now, but they feel or pulling on.
So that’s a lot of what my methodology does is get them to become more conscious about. I need cat food, I need life, I need a new vice president. I need you know. I need tires on my car to handle my next vacation. That’s on my radar and do you find or do you feel as we come up against the end here, and do you feel that this is becoming more of an issue I mean, do you feel people are becoming, maybe more, you know avoiding more durkas will abort Before opportunities, you have the more you’re going to avoid nice right and because we live in, we live in the world.
That’s bombarding us. We we’ve got a big opportunities. How many things could? How many think could you and I right now if we stop doing this, how many think could you and I surf on the rip right now that might add value to what’s coming up on your calendar tonight or tomorrow or this afternoon or whatever come on yeah? It’s just now, that’s infinite. I mean I had an encyclopedia britannica, but I could look up stuff and I had that bulletin board.
On my laundromat I could look up the cool things and I had a telephone that I could talk to my girlfriend when I was 14 for two hours. So distraction is, you know, is kind of a universal potential opportunity. It’s just now. Your girlfriend is available 24/7 and he or she is checking his checking in with you and they’re checking in there. You know it’s like this is not a one. This is not a one time to our phone call.
This is a 24/7 accessible to all those dings. Then may show up and that’s highly addictive. It’s so there’s a there’s, a real problem with with all of that that opportunity and it’s it’s highly addictive. And how much do you think, then that, but but it’s also giving a lot of people a get out of jail card for themselves right because they just go on like you know, I can’t get anything done well come on.
You know, that’s just BS. You know. There’s people just unconscious, I’m sorry, I can’t can’t say much about that other than now. You know to that point. You know not to be too facile at that point. A lot of these opportunities are are just creating the greater challenges for people to decide what they’re doing and what’s important and what strategic, what really matters III meant social yeah. I got more than a million followers on Twitter.
You know, and I hang out on Instagram a little bit – Facebook or whatever, but that’s just a cocktail party to me, so I don’t have to go to cocktail parties. I’ve just got one, so I just want wander in and out chat when I won’t add things when I won’t look at things whatever. I think that’s really cool, what a great world we live in, that we have those opportunities. That’s global because I have a global network of people that I you know play with and interact with and engage with, but I don’t have any commitment to do anything other than wander in or wander out, mm-hmm.
So, and if you really know what you’re doing you know, how much time you ought to give that and how much importance you ought to give that and whether that’s just an engagement, fun thing to let your brain rest and have some fun and socialize what’s wrong With those things, those are great as long as they’re done in inappropriate proportion so that you’re balanced about what you’re doing and not using those as a way to avoid the article you need to write or the person that caught the difficult conversation you need to trigger.
You know, or whatever mm-hmm well, listen David. This is this has been great. Actually I could talk for a long more a lot longer, as I think there’s a this is a great message and I think obviously it’s a message. That is, I think, it’s more important than ever right now, because I do believe a lot of people are hiding behind chaos and not taking taking action in their lives. I I could see examples of it every day, so I think it’s about getting things down.
The art of stress-free productivity, so thanks David for sharing some of those insights with us today, thanks John for the invitation happy to do that happy to share all this information with whoever is interested. Have they come back whenever you might want me yeah, absolutely and just before we go, how can people find out more about you getting things done come? Is our website and you’ll see a lot of our global partners? We have a partner in the Ireland and the UK.
That’s doing public seminars there, as well as in 60 countries. So if you just go to our website, you’ll see where you might want to take a public seminar or get coaching individual coaching about this methodology that I have an of course get my book Danielle edition. Getting things done, you know it’s the Bible. They know of all this absolutely and it’ll also be available in the sales part library for purchase.
So again, thanks David John golden says: pop online says magazine, pipeliner CRM, see again for another expert inside interview very soon.
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