Getting Things Done

QuestionsForLiving Interview with David Allen November 6th, 2008:

QFL:  What were your primary questions for creating the concept of stress-free productivity?

Allen:    Before I answer the question, I would like to note that I did not create the concept of stress-free productivity. I may have created the name "stress-free productivity". However, the concept has existed as long as people have experienced action without a perception of time.

In retrospect, the questions that I was most likely asking at the time that I realized the concept of stress-free productivity were:

1) How can I maintain a free mind and still get a lot done? Note: I am a freedom junkie. When my head is clear I am amazed by the amount of insights and the quality of thoughts that I experience.

2) What is the value of having a clear head?

3) Is it possible to have a clear head and be productive? Note: One is most productive when s/he has a clear head.

4) Can obtaining that state of single minded focus be a conscious choice?

5) How can I achieve that state of single minded focus in the midst of chaos?

QFL:  What were your primary questions for building the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology for creating stress-free productivity?


1) What are the universal truths about how we, as people, function best?

2) What is true about how we, as humans, experience stress-free productivity?

3) How can I enable other people to experience these truths and leverage these truths for themselves so that GTD will be effective for them too?

4) Why is it so easy to achieve stress-free productivity when I have a list of every commitment and project for which I am accountable? In a sense, I learned the method for obtaining stress-free productivity by reverse engineering the process. When observing the feeling of stress-free productivity, I asked "Why does it feel this way?", " Why does it work?" and "How can I replicate this for myself and others?"

5) How can I understand the components of this experience so that I can build it into a prescriptive method? How can I create this method so that when others apply it, they can duplicate the results without fail?

QFL: What are your primary questions for implementing the GTD methodology with clients?


1) How can I best ensure that I will engage with the process in an effective way?

2) Specific questions to managing expectations...
- Do I know what the client expects from the work session?
- Does the client know what I expect from the work session?
- How do we define success?
- What is the end result or goal we are working towards?
- Does the client know the GTD methodology and what we will be doing together?
- Does the client know that I will be providing them with a map, a customized solution, for Getting Things Done that will work for them and which they can will implement with time?

3) What is something that would prevent them from engaging in the process?

4) What do I need to do to make sure that I get the full attention of the client and his/her total engagement in the process?

QFL: What are your primary questions for implementing the GTD methodology when working on your own projects?


1) What most has my attention now?

2) What, if handled right now, will serve me the best?

Note:  Usually the answers to both these questions are the same. Typically, the action that will serve me best will do so because it is most on my mind. By handling  this project first, it will free my mind, enabling me focus in a more productive way.

Mr. David Allen can be contacted at:

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