Its that discipline that kind of Jedi discipline of being able to carve the stuff, assign your relationship to it so you can control it versus it controlling you. That kind of stuff transcends any particular tool. What you need to do though is find a system that you trust to put these little pieces in so that you can bump into them where they make sense to you and where they create meaning to you. So its those little rituals, those habits, those behaviors that need to change. If you find a tool to align to those, fantastic, thats an important part of the system. So i would have to agree with the premise lets transcend the tool, lets go to the thought patterns and then go back to the tools that provide the form and the system that work for you. And the thing I love about gtd is people can be on totally different tools and be very, very productive.
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Not all the time, we all have to be down on the day to day operational stuff but boy that can get really help old and tiring if you dont lift back. So obviously new year is a great opportunity to you know use that for that purpose. LH: mike, there is an interesting sales article by cal Newport where he talked about the post-productivity era and he talked about how we were obsessed with the tools that need to be used to get productive as opposed to actually being productive. Do you think we are at a point where the tools are now going to be able to work synergistically more with the greater public in terms of getting things done? Do you tend to agree with that or do you think thats its a healthy combination of both? Advertising mike williams (Photo via twitter) MW: I think the productivity conversation probably belongs more in the thinking pattern behavior pattern area because when you look at gtd its really neutral to any particular tool. And some of the most sophisticated people are actually doing gtd on paper. But whats changing within them is the thought pattern that they bring to all the stuff thats entering their lives. So the analogy i love to use is that i kind of think of gtd as a star Wars kind of thing. Its an epic battle between you versus the stuff in your life and youve got your lightsaber out and if you can carve out the stuff into tiny pieces then you own the stuff. But if you let stuff continue to grow, it will come in and it will overwhelm you.
You know, any kind of icon that you can use or any sort of metaphorical sort of thing that we can use to back off and say, hey, you knowits time for a new game. Thats why actually travel (works so much for this). Travel is a handy illusion that we can sort of pretend that we can show up a new person in a new way, i mean to mikes point, driving getting a little white line fever and just driving. Get somewhere new, give yourself the chance to get out of the old conditioning and same old, same old. So, obviously (this time of year is a) great time to do that. You could use Spring Cleaning, you can use summer Solstice, you could use anythinganything like that which gives you an opportunity to say, lets blow a whistle, and just call a halt in the game and step back. Anything that can help you lift a little bit thats just part of the gtd methodology is a regular reflection and review modality. And there a lot of different horizons to do that in but its you know, boy we all get down on the weeds and wrapped around red the axle is tight as anything. And we need to go manage the forests instead of just hugging the trees.
Its funny, ive worked with a essay lot of people and when you ask them to write down your ideal scenario its one of those muscles that hasnt been exercised that much. So one of the cool areas where i often find myself kind of drifting into this space naturally is just getting in your car and driving down the highway for about three hours, see what shows up in your mind, and just pay attention. That is often when I have interesting thoughts or the things that are tugging on me surface. But I think vegetarianism the reason for that is because i found a space to have that thinking space. So if you want to go into that deep reflective mode try to find that space where you can get that deep thinking space, have some tools there so you can collect whats on your mind just as it shows up and then get. LH: Further to thatdavid, is this a time of year where its easier for people to grab on to probably one of the tougher components of gtd for people to get: The horizons of Focus? Is this the time of year when it is the best time the most capable to grab on to those and look forward as opposed to putting in time and just capturing and capturing? Is this a good time to look at that and really get clear on what were looking for down the road?
So those polarities actually come together with doing a real current reality externalization of that and get it out of the psyche as opposed to try and manage all those factors. I mean, were living such complex lives theres no way on earth we can keep all that internalized and really trust our judgment on that. So thats part of the gtd methodology and a real core piece. Its called get this out of your head so it frees up the flow as opposed to being a log jam. LH: mike, what are your thoughts on this? MW: For me its about freeing up space and freeing up that space to let your mind wander a bit. Because the ability to look backwards and see what you accomplished, to reflect on what is kind of in the subconscious of your mind and then the other thing would be to have the courage to actually dream.
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Well start with you david. DA: you know, Im going to be a broken record, but if youre really ready to take the next chapter the first thing you need to do is start to pay attention to what has your attention and basically externalize all of that and step. You need a map, essentially. Get a map of where you are, whats true, whats pulling on you, whats there and as best as you can objectify that. Advertising, there are two aspects to that. One is sort of acknowledgment and a completion sit down and at the end of the year (and ask) what have we accomplished? How can we pat ourselves in the back?
What are issues weve come up with? Whats the current reality state there? So theres the current realities looking backward in terms of a historical sense just to get closure on that, and to get a little bit of a step outside of ourselves and see. And then there is current reality, whats pulling on us whats attracting us, whats pushing on us, whats also true right now? Where is the creative dissonance plan and the current realityessentially, thats looking forward.
Before david even approached me i was doing my ideal scene imagining and I was thinking to myself that it would be fun to get back a smaller private company, ideally under a hundred people who were doing really cool work. You know, stuff thats kind of changing their part of the world and would align to my value system. So i kind of chalk it up to be careful what you ask and what you wish for because somebody out there in the universe may call your bluff. And thats exactly what happened. That day i showed up and had lunch with david and Kahtryn wasI dont know what the colliding of two ideal scenes looks like but thats probably the closest that I had ever been. Because here we have a private company check with under a hundred people check doing really cool work (work thats really helping people because thats a big value alignment for me) check has a great product and a great brand check.
Then i also asked myself if I would I love doing this job every day. That was a triple check because i was such gtd enthusiast before. Just imagine getting to wake up every day and playing the space! So really the alignment of the opportunity plus all the wonderful things that I learned at ge in my career could be directly applicable to this new opportunity in this new game that I want to play for the next 20 to 30 years. LH: david you and I have had this conversation before where we talked about how January and correct me if Im wrong is more of a time of reflection and cleaning house as opposed to just starting brand new things. Whats the one thing that youd recommend people do to prepare themselves for maybe a chance of alignment like you guys had for the coming year?
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And the company i was working for at the time grew up and then got acquired by general Electric later. So it has helped me both in the previous life, then transitioning to one of the largest companies in the world, and then also taking on new responsibilities within that large company. But the aspirations with respect to a persons thesis career has a lot of different dimensions. Ive been in the healthcare it information technology space for over 23 years, largely focused on services side of things. And during that time ive worked in the organizational development department. Ive run four different types of education businesses within ge, and been part of services teams that are really trying to transform healthcare. At some point in time though, my thinking and what ge taught me really started to spark my entrepreneurial spirit.
So i didnt know if this guy would ever have wanted to run this company. So i just raised a flag and waited to see what would happen. Mike and I had lunch last may back in Boston and I just sort of floated the idea, hey, would you ever consider. Advertising, and thats how it happened. LH: mike what drew you into the idea of becoming ceo of the david Allen Company? Is it a different slant in terms of, say, running ge, which still obviously involves a lot of time management and project management? What drew you to this whole new aspect of your life? MW: I think it all starts back in 2004 when I got exposed to the gtd methodology. And if I can point to one presentation book that has really changed and shaped my life for better, its this particular methodology.
build a community, a net. And we decided that we didnt. The press was great, the world was just was waking up, the book (Getting Things Done) was in 30 languages, and the world was not right here at our door. David Allen (Photo via david Allen Company). And you know, why hold this incredible methodology that seems to be transformative to everybody that doesnt have a social work, gender or professional bias at all and is a global thing back? So we said, lets do it, and that started us down the path to try to figure out how do we operationalize this, how do we build a business to essentially distribute this educational model and have a business model at the same time. But long story short i decided I needed to find a way to structure the organization or to build a process so that it could be more self-managing and bring on the kind of people that would be interested in running this and taking this. At one point I said, look who would be the ideal person for all of this and I just had mike in my mind. Wed met, he had been part of my network but Id never had any kind of conversation i mean, the guy was a senior guy.
But mike williams is pretty much taking over most of all of the operational, strategic and resource allocation side of the game. LH: And speaking of which, the new ceo of the david essay Allen Compan is here as well, mike williams. Mike williams: Thank you very much. Its great to be here. Im looking forward to the conversation. LH: First off, we receive this press release indicating that mike williams was going to become the ceo of the david Allen Company, and I had never heard of the man before. David, what drew you to mike in terms of bringing him on board as the ceo of the david Allen Company and what was the process to bring him into the fold? DA: Well, that is a long story Ill try to shorten it and not bore you to tears with all the history of this.
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Editors Note: Lifehack was granted an exclusive opportunity to speak with both david Allen, founder of the david Allen Company, and the companys new ceo, mike williams. As the new year begins, this is a great opportunity to learn about gtd from the man who created it and the men who plan to move it forward from here on out. Lifehack: we have david Allen of the. David Allen Company here. Whats your role now david are you founder, are you chief innovation officer, or? David Allen: i am chief evangelist and visionary thats probably my major role. I still have a good bit of operational responsibilities particularly in terms of our program development, content, qa and so forth that ive still got my hands into.