GTD Notes: Chapters 11, 12 & 13 – Power of the Key Principles

This is a series of posts with reading notes of the book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” by David Allen.

In Part 3, Chapters 11, 12 & 14 David Allen gives more insights about the power of the key principles: capturing, next-actions and outcome focusing.

Chapter 11 – The Power of the Capturing Habit

One of the most powerful habits I've learned with GTD is writing things down, either manually or digitally. In this chapter, David lists all the benefits of this practice and explain why uncaptured open loops take up mental space. We feel negative feelings (overwhelm, anxiety, guilt) when we see our incomplete to-dos because we are breaking agreements with ourselves. And the book presents ways to prevent these broken agreements:

“A renegotiated agreement is not a broken one.” — David Allen

The act of doing a mind sweep always make me feel better. And that's because when I unload all those thoughts, I'm automatically renegotiating my agreements with myself. I probably didn't notice the full potential of this habit when I started, but now I know how valuable it is. I've recently discovered that if I do a quick mind sweep at the end of my work day, I feel much better! As David Allen suggests:

“I suggest that you use your mind to think about things, rather than think of them”. — David Allen

Chapter 12 – The Power of the Next-Action Decision

Always ask this question: “What's the next action?” Why? Because if forces:

It's a quick exercise to define what doing looks like. I identified myself when David Allen mentions that the most creative, sensitive and intelligent people are the ones who procrastinate the most. Because we tend to fantasize scenarios about what is needed to complete that project, along with all the negative possible outcomes! We freak out and give up!

Another interesting note is that we might be repelled by our to-do lists:

“… not because of the contents per se, but rather because sufficient appropriate thinking has yet to be applied to them.” — David Allen

Chapter 13 – The Power of Outcome Focusing

The key message of this chapter is that we can't define the next action until we know what is the desired outcome in the end.

And it can apply to small, mundane things or to big life goals. Some good questions to always have in mind:

The challenge will always be: defining what done means and what doing looks like.


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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.