Getting things done - The two aspects of self management

January 10, 2008
David Allen is a world renowned Productivity trainer and consultant, who is obsessed with the twin topics of time management and productivity. He is the author of the best selling book titled Getting Things Done (GTD) - The art of stress free productivity.

Recently, he gave a talk at Google where he spoke on GTD and the two keys to sustaining a healthy life and work style. The basic premise of his talk is that a majority of us fritter our time doing senseless things when we should be putting in productive work. This is because we are not focussed and our mind is crammed with too many "what if" scenarios related to day to day life that we end up getting stressed.

Our mind is limited in its ability to manage commitments, because it is handicapped in its ability to remember and remind. And unless it trusts there is a better system, it cannot let go of the job.

David claims there are two aspects of self management namely :
  1. Control and
  2. Perspective.
He goes on to say :
If you want to get things off your mind, you must know that :
You don't do it by stacking it up, meditating about it or dreaming about it. But you do it by capturing, clarifying and organizing your commitments at all horizons. You will engage consciously with them as often as you need to.

Your ability to refocus, rapidly, on the right things at the right horizon at the right time is the master technique of knowledge work athletics.
He segregates people broadly into four roles depending on the level of perspective and control they display. And he calls it the matrix of self management.

Perspective | Crazy | Master |
| Maker | and |
| | Commander |
| Reactor | Micro |
| | Manager |
--------Control -------->
To be successful in the art of self management, one has to strive to fit in the role of "Master and Commander" as shown in the graph above which means you should have both high perspective and high control.

Do watch the talk he gave at Google campus. It's about 45 minutes duration but is worth every minute of it.


  • blackthorne

    here's something i have thought about but never seen somehow documented. The way he structures to the deeps of our brain's workflow should be mandatory!
    This 45m presentation changed me, he is brilliant.