Tony DeMeo

Getting Things Done by David Allen

David Allen wrote a wonderful book on accomplishing more in your day and being more relaxed while you do it. He developed a simple system of organization and productivity that allows you to focus your energy. I am always looking for ways to make my time more productive and this book really hit a homerun with me. During the season every coach in America needs a 30 hour day or a better system of “getting things done”.

Allen starts out with the premise that small changes yield big results. This won me over because after 24 years of being a Head Football Coach I did not want a complete overhaul. I wanted a tune-up.

The Open Loop Concept – anything that requires your attention is an open loop. It could be ending world hunger or installing a light bulb. So the key is how you manage your action. What can you do NOW to close your loop? The key is to get started – taking action reduces stress. The thing you must do is get all your loops out in front of you. Then make lists of what must be done and how each loop can be closed.

The Five Stage Process
1. Collect – an inbox is a simple way to collect. Collect then empty.
2. Process – Getting the inboxes empty. Can you take action on this? If “no” then trash it. If “yes” then what? Do, Delegate or Defer.
3. Organize – if you can do it in less than 2 minutes do it. A project is anything that takes more than one step. A project goes to the Calendar. #1 Specific actions,#2 day/time specific, #3 Day specific information required.
4. Review – review at appropriate intervals. Weekly reviews are the keys to success. Gather & process stuff – close loops. Tie up loose ends.
5. DO – purpose of workflow is to make good choices. Intuitive choices go from hoping to trusting.
This simple 5 step process is a great tool for un-cluttering your mind and thus reduces stress.

Allen’s purpose of the book is to provide stress – free productivity. Cleaning the clutter on your desk is another component of David Allen’s system. I am one of the biggest culprits in this area. But I picked up some key tips from this book.
1.Get a new filing cabinet.
2.Use a label maker to mark your files. (It’s fun)
3.Take & file notes. I am by nature a voracious note taker. I never rely on my memory.
4.Have materials available and a good size work space.
5.Never keep reference material not being used on your desk. This was a biggie for me.
6.Keep your file drawer less than ¾ s full. Easier to get files in & out.
7.Customize Your System for yourself.

Two other great tips are – Stress is caused by surprises – the more organized you are the fewer surprises you have. And interruptions don’t interfere with your job the ARE your job.

To sum up Allen’s workflow process:
1.Put Stuff in your inbox.
2.Is it actionable? If no the Trash it. If yes move forward.
3.What’s the Action? Project, Plans or DO (2 minute rule)
4.If no 2 minute magic then either delegate or defer.
5.If you delegate – you wait. If you defer give it a spot on your calendar & decide on the next action. Be Specific.
6.Follow up with weekly review.

Getting Things Done is a quick read (less than 200 pages) simple but extremely worthwhile. I recommend it for football coaches but also to anyone who feels that they are constantly swimming upstream. Everyone wants to simplify their lives and still be productive, David Allen shows you how.

Two other excellent Time Management Books are: 1st Things 1st by Stephen Covey and Time Management for Busy Executives by Lawrence Fine.