Getting Things Done is Product Management

David Allen, Author of Getting Things Done, discusses how to manage complex projects, be more productive, and stay focused on your most important work.

Since its release in 2001, David’s book, Getting Things Done, has been an indispensable resource for managers and executives seeking to improve their productivity in a fast-paced and rapidly evolving world. David’s book has sold more than two million copies, and Getting Things Done (GTD) trainings and products are available in 40 countries and over 30 languages.

David discovered that once he developed his “external brain” and found a method for keeping his work organized, he could address it when he needed to. In doing so, he not only relieved stress but also improved his ability to manage more complex projects.

GTD entails capturing all important information, and clarifying desired outcomes and next actions. By doing so, you can use your brain for making decisions instead of remembering things, and focus the work that’s strategic, rather than what’s the latest and loudest, David says. He recommends creating a trusted system that enables you to be as "dumb" as possible in terms of remembering your ever-expanding to-do lists, and instead save brain capacity for meaningful work.

After corporations approached David to share his insights, David realized that he had stumbled on something important. Due to the tsunami of emails, increasingly complex projects, and accelerating change in the workplace during the 1990s, his clients had an urgent need for his approach. David’s consulting and training business started booming.

GTD applies beyond the individual to team settings, where having a mutual understanding of ownership, desired outcomes, and next actions can help unstick intransigent projects. David urges listeners to avoid thinking about problems, and to instead view them as projects that can be tackled by jumping into the driver’s seat.

You’ll learn a lot from this episode about managing complex projects, planning your work strategically, and staying focused in a fast-paced work environment.

Here are the highlights:

  • David shares an introduction to GTD (7:03)
  • David explains why new tools such as Slack and Evernote have not changed his approach (10:14)
  • How David finds the time to make important decisions and review priorities (16:26)
  • David’s recommendations for managing projects as a team (22:30)
  • The habits and practices that have helped David build GTD into a global enterprise (25:07)

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