David Allen – Getting Things Done

David Allen talks about having 35 jobs by the time he was aged 35. What could appear as an erratic career path has seen him work as a performing magician, travel agent and even vitamin salesman. It was in the 80s, though, that David developed his model for increasing productivity and efficiency, one that can be applied on personal and corporate scales. Since then he’s become a leading thinker and author in the field, publishing the bestseller ‘Getting Things Done’ in 2001.

He’s also invested and founded other businesses, such as Auctioneer and the David Allen Company. It’s the David Allen Company that present seminars across the world on productivity and time management. Aside from being an internationally known management consultant and bestselling writer, David Allen has a keen interest in transcendental meditation and the importance of spiritual practices.

In the flurry that is the modern business world, David Allen’s methods have never been more popular or relevant. For those that struggle to bring order to their day or simply find it difficult to get things done, this episode is packed with essential wisdom. We know this week’s show will be worth the listen again and again.

00:00 Trailer.
01:04 Brian’s thoughts on the episode.
04:14 Brian’s introduction.
04:57 David loves global London.
05:39 Reasons for moving from America to Amsterdam.
11:28 Having a clear space within with nothing on the mind, gives freedom.
16:12 Being appropriately engaged with your life so you can be fully present.
17:03 Make action decisions when you’re smart so that when you’re dumb you do smart things.
19:08 Don’t lose a valuable idea, park it in the right place.
20:28 Goal setting, is it running you, or are you managing it.
23:33 Decision making using the expansion or contraction theory.
25:36 What he blames Mrs Williams in the 4th grade for.
27:53 Understanding the methodology gives the freedom to advantageously use new technology.
32:49 Ultra-connected world reinforces the need for the methodology.
34:10 The art of stress free productivity is a Marshall Art.
37:24 The to do list, capturing, clarifying and organising it.
39:15 Procrastinators are the most sensitive, intelligent and creative people.
40:45 Time is not the issue.
43:30 Choosing to create or falling into the reactive email trap.
43:55 Freedom to be spontaneous comes from creating a to do list.
45:54 Stop, just stop. Temptations of modern technology.
48:10 David visualises Twitter as a cocktail party.
49:00 Advice to 21 year old just starting to find his place in the world.
49:54 Using accountability coaches.
50:42 Technique for capturing a task when not possible or proper to use a captive device.
52:16 Success secrets.
53:41 A crisis that produced a calm that was rare to find because it demanded it.
55:26 gtd franchising.
58:21 What type of people take to gtd and why.
59:56 The value of in person instruction.
1:01:24 David’s Marshall Arts history.
1:02:53 A real interest in Japanese aesthetics and culture.
1:03:30 Phone call to the 20 year old David Allen.
1:04:34 Best advice ever received.
1:05:34 Advice to the 20 year old who is fascinated by some of these concepts.
1:06:25 Brian’s summing up.

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emcDrewMichael ScottMalcolm LarriJohn Ulvoy Recent comment authors
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“I like to plan as little as I can get by with”
Amazing idea from David, the expert on planning.

Having a GTD system to handle important or to-do things in life can “Give me the freedom to be spontaneous”.


This is so awesome!

Michael Scott
Michael Scott

WOW! Two immediate takeaways for me (1) The best move I’ve made this year is to migrate from digital calendaring and note taking back to traditional (paper) capturing. I purchased a Passion Planner six weeks ago and it has made a HUGE difference in terms of getting things off my mental hard drive. (2) I am going to immediately log out of my Facebook account so it is less convenient to migrate there during the day. It is sucking up a ton of my time so hopefully this will mitigate some of the temptation to head there often.

John Ulvoy
John Ulvoy

I think the key with GTD is to take one piece and implement it everywhere. Then add the various pieces and implement the whole system. I started with creating inbox zero everywhere and I am already feeling a big change. Inbox Zero=Delete/Respond (<x seconds) or move to @Action, @In or @Wait.


GTD. let me start working on the core of it. Thanks Brian. Your work is appreciable. Keep up the spirit.


Great episode, finally got round to finishing it up. Bought GTD 5 years ago, ironically I never finished it, but I did sort a folder structure for digital projects which I still used today. Joy.

Vineet Bhatia
Vineet Bhatia

David was a brilliant guest. His teachings at second glance are much more profound than just getting things done. A zen-spiritual quality. Well done Brian. Keep up your brilliant work.

Amanda Luz
Amanda Luz

amazing video, thank got i found david since i’m a procrastinator


I’ve been putting GTD into practice, after listening to the audio book three times now – making such a difference to my work output! Also just signed up for “GTD Mastering Workflow Level One, Fundamentals: London, Thursday 6th August 2015”.

Walter Watts

So many hoops, what in the f?


Great quote (at 25:12): “The value of goals and future thinking is not in the future they describe, it’s in how it changes your perceptions and performance right now”!

Toby Donovan

Whats the music loop at the start?

Akash Thakkar

Awesome episode. Just got his book, and can’t wait to dive in. As always, thank you for getting such awesome guests, Brian!

Papp Istvan

Sellout Brian at it again…