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It is only at the moment of humans' realistic admission to selves of having made a mistake that they are the closest to that mysterious integrity governing the universe.—R. Buckminster Fuller

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.—Saint Francis de Sale


Article discusses how completion of goal enhances motivation. Feels like burst of organizational energy. Enhanced organization brings awareness of more "stuff" to write down and track. More "stuff" feels overwhelming. Motivation slows. Next-action decisions are avoided. Focus on more "stuff" piling up. System drags. Want to stop focusing on falling off track, forgive self, and jump back on track. Goal is to have ability to refocus become natural part of the system.

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David Allen's Food for Thought

October 2014


Climb the Fire Tower—Weekly


Several times recently I have had the opportunity to spend time with some real “veterans” of my seminars and methods, and the one lament that almost all of them have is their lack of habit with the Weekly Review. “You know, David, it all works really well, except that I haven’t really been able to get to the Weekly Review on a regular basis.”


This seems to be one of the biggest hurdles to implementation of the mind-like-water techniques—not establishing the ongoing review and cleanup and recalibration of one’s personal management system and its contents.


There is no system, formula, software, or set of lists, no matter how completely filled out, that can tie together the almost infinite number of variables that go into “getting our act together.” The only thing that makes it work is a consistent intervention of you. At some point you must lift yourself out of day-to-day tree hugging and do at least a modicum of forest management. Having a Projects list is a great step in that direction, but just having it doesn’t keep it current, or keep ensuring that there are next actions on each one appropriately decided and tracked. It also doesn’t ensure that the whole inventory is reviewed and the contents weighed appropriately, given the changing nature of priorities and outer realities.


There is a light-year’s difference between being “sort of” organized and having everything downloaded, clarified, updated, and reviewed from at least an elevated horizon. The brain does not get to graduate to its more exalted and more effective command post of making intuitive choices from its options, without this. It must remain the lowly galley slave trying to remember what it ought to be thinking about, at what level, when. And it doesn’t do that very well, so it gets punitive lashes from our own inner judge.


If anyone can tell me how they can get to the level of full creative freedom without reviewing and self-renegotiating all their commitments on a consistent basis, I’d love to hear it. It would be great if I didn’t have to do it. But until then, brushing teeth, taking showers, balancing my checkbook, and doing a Weekly Review remain necessary drills to keep my world where it needs to be.

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David Allen's Food for Thought

November 2014


To-Do Lists: Usually "Amorphous Blobs of Un-Do-Ability"


Most people’s written or mental to-do lists, though created and maintained as a worthy exercise, are merely descriptions of unfinished details and projects in their lives, and are not a really an effective kick-start in getting them done. It’s because another level of decision-making and tracking is still required, even after we’ve captured the area, situation, or project that has our attention. Typical ingredients of such inventories are things like, “Mom,” “Bank,” “Strategy meeting,” or “Phillip.” Accurately identified stuff that has one’s attention, but still lacking in the necessary ingredients for clear and motivated action to close those open loops.


A very bright, very hardworking professional I worked with had wound up overwhelmed and somewhat frozen about many of her large and rather ambiguous projects. This seems to be the rule more than the exception these days, for most people I coach. The problem was quite simply that every time she would remind herself of the project, she would feel like she had to sit down and do a detailed and intelligent project plan about it, in order to know what to do, to deal with it successfully.


Seldom do we ever have the time, energy, or opportunity to do that kind of thinking (project planning) in the heat of battle of day-to-day life. What we ought to be doing is clearly defining the end result of the item (Project), and deciding the next physical visible action required to move toward it (Next Action). This is the simple but profoundly powerful Action to Outcome method.


What amazed my client was how quickly she could come up with the exactly appropriate (and easy to do) next action about the most ambiguous and sophisticated of projects. If we’re not sure what needs to be done, then there’s more information we need, and that’s invariably a phone call, an email to send, a meeting to set, a conversation to have, or a document to review.

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