E3 • David Allen: This 1 Strategy Saved My Life

May 10th, 2021

In 2010 my life fell apart.


I failed the business. Dealing with the IRS. Overworked, overly stressed, about to have our first kid, & no idea where my next paycheck would come from. Then when I didn’t think it could get any worse, it hits my body so bad I had to see a doctor.

Because of that, I spent the next 5-6 years searching for the best way to balance my life, maximize my time, & still be productive.


After engaging with almost 100 different books & resources I discovered David Allen & what he showed me changed my life. 

In this episode, David shares those very things that allowed me to conquer the very thing that was destroying my life. 

For more information about Paradigm Shift & growing your company culture send us a message at info@paradigmshiftleadership.com

Full Episode Transcript (auto-generated errors may occur)


Jerrod Murr: [00:00:37] 

Welcome, everyone, to the Good Leader podcast. Thanks for joining us once again today. I am so excited for you to hear from one of my all time favorite guests, David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done The Art of Stress Free Productivity. I discovered this book about 10 years ago, and it saved my life. Now, not literally, but 10 years ago, figuratively speaking, I was killing myself. There’s about 2010, and I’d like to share for a moment just a little bit of where I was in that place. I was overwhelmed, overworked, overly stressed, crazy. I had failed a business and I was closing all of that out. I was dealing with the IRS. I was dealing with taxes. I was dealing with walking away from that, trying to just move on. I got already admitted failure. This is not working. And it was just lingering. It was just the minutia of paperwork and moving on. Our first baby was on her way. That in and of itself was stressful, let alone I was for the first time in my life in between jobs. I did not have a steady paycheck. I did not know exactly what was going to happen. I was working odds and ends, trying to make ends meet and for the first time in my life did not have footing on my future. From the time I was 18, I knew where I was going. I knew the next step. I knew the direction. No, everything wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t completely laid out. But I had firm footing. And at this moment I was in limbo and unsure on top of this new adventure of parenting.


Jerrod Murr: [00:02:22] 

Add to that coming out of our previous jobs and the business that had failed and all that, we were moving back home to be closer to family because we were starting a family. But if you’ve ever moved, I mean, that’s just chaotic at best, you know, hectic at times. But for us, it was stressful because we were trying to answer these really big questions of what are we going to do with the rest of our lives? Is this an in-between move? Do we just live with our parents for a little while? Where’s this baby going to go home to? Does she have a home? I mean, we were really, really freaking out. I remember having an I don’t know if I’d call it an argument Ang, but it was a it was a very direct conversation with my wife. You know, I don’t know I don’t know if you and your husband have those, but.


Andrea Hyre: [00:03:08] 

Oh, yeah, I’m an enneagram 8. We have direct conversations every day.


Jerrod Murr: [00:03:12] 

Ok, well, this was a very direct conversation. And I remember walking away from the house and not not like I didn’t leave, but I’m saying like like getting some space, getting in the car. I drove down the road, pulled into a parking lot, just stopped and just cried, just sobbed. I was like, I’m I’m really at a loss. So, OK, so that’s the background of where I was that’s going on for a few months, that sort of ebb and flow. And what the heck is happening? Well, all of a sudden, I have something happened to my back. I was actually in the process of trying to start new things and get new jobs, and I was headed for training for a new job. And I got on an airplane and was headed to Boston. And when I sat down in the plane, I immediately felt pain in my back and just shot through my back. And I thought, oh, my goodness, I thought I’d pulled something I didn’t know that entire weekend at the training, it was the craziest pain I’d ever felt. It was intense at times. It was like achy. At times it was like itchy. Thought it was weird. I was like, something’s going on. I get back, tell my wife I’ve got to go. The doctor. I don’t know what’s going on. I see the doctor and I’m thinking I’ve got some sort of mystery disease. I’m like, I have no idea what’s going on, what is happening to me. I’m I’m worried and I don’t know what’s happening. He says, Well, dear, it’s pretty simple.


Jerrod Murr: [00:04:34] 

I know exactly what you have. I said, What? Well, you’ve got shingles. And I was like, shingles, shingles, now I don’t know about you and I don’t know about you out there listening, but when I think of shingles, I think of one thing. Old people, old people. And that’s what I told him. I said like shingles, like for old people. And he said, well, not actually for old people. Are you stressed out? And honestly, my M.O. was just to keep moving forward. Even though all that craziness was going on in my life, even though I’d had these breakdown moments, I didn’t really ever really admit it, especially to anyone. I just kept going. You know, it’s like I’m just going to keep going by nature. I’m really a bottler of emotion by nature. You know, I might cry by myself, but I’m not going to admit to the world that, hey, I’m really, really stressed. So I tell him I was like, well, I don’t know. I’m not any any more than anybody else, I guess. And he’s like, well, tell me what’s going on. So I describe it. And he said, well, it sounds like you might be stressed out. And he said, more than that, your body is telling you you’re stressed out. He said this is your body’s physical reaction to whatever is happening to you mentally and emotionally. And that was a real wake up call. I was like, oh, my gosh. I mean, because at the time I was 30. So I’m like, I’m 30 and I’ve got shingles.


Jerrod Murr: [00:05:50] 

I’ve got to change something. So why does that matter today? Because the gentleman that you’re about to hear in the interview came to my rescue. I didn’t know what to do. And as I said, I’m a bottler of emotion. I’m more of an action type person. I’m like, OK, let’s fix this. So I knew that something was wrong, though, so I started working on my own schedule. Over the next five or six years, I read probably I don’t want to exaggerate, but like seventy, seventy or seventy five books on time management trying to figure out what do I need to change. This is stressful, like I’ve got to change my life. And so I just became a crazy student of like time management, self-management and all these things and the one book. So if I could make any recommendation to you out there listening, it is this book. It’s called Getting Things Done by David Allen The Art of Stress Free Productivity. It changed my life. I adopted its practices and it over the last ten years radically changed my life and I will say saved my health. And from it has totally changed. I became a better husband. I became a better father. I became a better business owner. I became a better I just I’m just better because I started controlling my life around me, the things within my control, instead of letting it control me. And I adopted his practices in this interview, you’re going to hear those practices. It is genius level stuff. But the cool thing is it’s so simple.


Jerrod Murr: [00:07:15] 

Everyone can do it. I’m excited for to hear it. So after the break, you’re going to hear David Allen and our incredible conversation about getting things done. And then afterward, we’re going to come back and tell you now what that was good. Now, what do we do? It’s a quick, practical steps to improve your life today. Check it out.


Jerrod Murr: [00:07:47] 

I am so excited to have David Allen here with us, as you heard in the last segment, I don’t want to oversell it, but he really saved my life, at least figuratively, completely changed the way I viewed my calendar,


Jerrod Murr: [00:08:00] 

My schedule and time management. So, Mr. Allen, thank you so much for joining us.


David Allen: [00:08:06] 

Jerrod thanks for the invitation. Delighted to be here.


Jerrod Murr: [00:08:08] 

Absolutely. Now, let’s dive right into the book for those people who have never read getting things done, the art of stress free living. Tell me a little bit about the book and tell me why you wrote the book.


David Allen: [00:08:19] 

Well, it took me about 20 or 25 years to discover what I had discovered and that nobody else seemed to come up with the same way and that it was bulletproof as a methodology. It helped people have stressed me productivity. So I got some good coaching, said, Gee, David, you gotta write the manual. So I did so getting things done. The first edition published in 2001 was really the compilation of the best practices that I had learned and figured out for myself. First researched and implemented with deep. By that time, thousands and thousands of people coached hundreds and hundreds of executives with this methodology. So that’s why I wrote the book really as a manual. So accumulated a lot of my life experience in my career and into one book I studied in case I got run over by a bus at least to be in a book, somebody could pick it up and, you know, get something out of it. So that’s that’s a very short version of a very long story journey that you could imagine.


Jerrod Murr: [00:09:13] 

Well, I can’t imagine. And so I’m using the tag line. It’s the tag line is the art of stress free productivity, is that right? I’m saying stress free living


Jerrod Murr: [00:09:21] 

To show how much it’s actually changed my life.


David Allen: [00:09:24] 

Well, productivity got a lot of baggage to it, but at the time, that was how we were selling it because people were interested in productivity, particularly the fast track professionals. That was really the first major audience for it. Even when I wrote the book, I knew that it worked for clergy, it worked for students, it work for stay at home, dad worked for anybody, got a busy life that worked to be able to surf on top of it. And productivity simply means produce whatever you want to produce. A lot of people think that means work harder, sweat more in the longer hours or whatever. But frankly, if you go to a party to have fun and don’t have fun, it’s an unproductive party. You know, you want to have a nice evening with your family and it’s not a nice evening with their families and unproductive evening, so productivity simply says produce whatever it is you’re after. So, yeah, you could translate as you have done, you know, stress free living indeed, because it crosses across your whole life experience for sure.


Jerrod Murr: [00:10:13] 

I love that definition of productivity and thinking about what is it that you want to produce in this role, in this moment. And like you just said, it works for clergy. It works for busy parents. It works for working professionals, whomever it may be. What are some of the principles that you see really resonate with people? Because it is a manual. I encourage everyone you got to read this book, but let’s reduce it down to some of the things that stick out to people the most, David.


David Allen: [00:10:38] 

Well, you know, I recognize the stages we go through to take any situation and get it more in control and more focused, whether it’s your kitchen or your company or anything. And there are five things that we do when we walk into a situation that’s not essentially on cruise control, if you know what I mean by that. It’s not it’s not automatic. It’s not things are not necessarily happening the way they could or should or that we’d like to.


David Allen: [00:11:01] 

And therefore, the first thing you have to do is recognize what’s off, what’s not on. That’s the capture step. So step one of the five steps is to capture that is to recognize what’s got your attention in the situation. If you walk in and your kitchen is out of control, first thing you need to recognize is what’s out of control in your kitchen. Right. So there are a lot of things in your kitchen that are fine the way they are, but something is off, right.


David Allen: [00:11:27] 

OK, so step two is to clarify, OK, given what’s off, why is it off? What’s the nature of it in your kitchen? You go, well, that’s a spice, not where spices go or that’s that’s a dirty dish or that’s a clean debt or whatever. So you you clarify the nature of the things that have your attention. That’s step two.


David Allen: [00:11:44] 

Step three would be to organize. Once you recognize what things mean to you by clarifying that that’s a dirty dish, what do you do? Put dirty dishes where dirty dish goes, then you organize the results of that into appropriate categories.


David Allen: [00:11:59] 

And then step four is then you look around and then reflect what you’ve captured and clarified and organized, whatever it is that has your attention, then you step back and reflect on the content and essentially the gestalt or the whole picture of what it is you’ve got in the kitchen.You look around like, OK, now what time, what time is it and what time do I have dinner for my family, etc.. So there’s a reflection process. Step four. 


David Allen: [00:12:23] 

Step five is then you engage, you go to the fridge and pull up butter and start to melt it for dinner. OK, now that’s the five stages, which is capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage. You do that to get your kitchen under control, that you you do that to get your company under control. You could do that to get your consciousness under control. But very few people who really, really do that and what they’re doing is they’re trying to use their head as their office in your head as a crappy office. Pardon my French, but your head doesn’t work. It did not evolve to remember, remind, prioritize or manage the relationship between modeling for things.


David Allen: [00:13:00] 

That’s new cognitive science data. I learned that experientially thirty five years ago. And so a lot of this methodology is about how to externalize all that stuff, clarify what they mean, and then put those in appropriate categories so I can step back and look at a map of my life, my work, at whatever levels I might want to do that. So I feel comfortable that this is the next thing I need to put my attention on the next action that I need to take. So there’s a another short version of a very long story, but that’s essentially it.


Jerrod Murr: [00:13:29] 

Well, in those steps, like you say, you’re looking at the kitchen analogy, which my wife is going to be very appreciative. I’m really going to look at our kitchen differently now and and think of these five steps. But that analogy can be drawn to anything, anything that you are working on, any situation that you’re encountering, what then causes most people’s stress. Is there something in life that if we feel out of control, is there or maybe it’s a few things. But if you notice something is you’ve worked with people over decades to say, you know, here’s where people really need to start or where they get tripped up.


David Allen: [00:14:00] 

You know, from my experience and with thousands of hours working with lots of people, the biggest source of stress is not keeping your own agreements with yourself.


Jerrod Murr: [00:14:12] 



David Allen: [00:14:13] 

And it’s like, see, if you look outside your I don’t know if you can see outside from where you’re sitting, but if you look out into the world, it’s fine. It’s not over. Well, it’s not in stress. It’s just doing what it’s doing right. It’s only how we’re relating to that world that creates the stress and how we’re relating to that world.


David Allen: [00:14:32] 

You’re probably not stressed out by your neighbors email, and they may be, but you’re not you’re only stressed out by your email, the things that you’ve allowed into your environment, into your ten acres, if you will, that you have yet to clarify exactly what they mean, what you’re going to do about them, or if you’ve decided you’re going to do about them. There’s a whole lot more stuff that you can do in any one particular moment. And so if you have externalized all that, it’s all rattling around in your brain. And if you’re trying to keep track of all that stuff and manage it in your head, that part of your head has no sense of past or future. So you can be waking up at three o’clock in the morning about needing cat food or needing a vice president of marketing.


David Allen: [00:15:16] 

They take up about the same cognitive real estate if they’re just in your head and they can either one wake you up at a time when you can’t do spit about cat food or your vice president, you won’t hire neither one. So that’s the biggest problem is that people are still trying to manage a very complex variable life, multiple levels in their head. And it was not designed to do that.


David Allen: [00:15:40] 

Your head is designed and evolved to do some very sophisticated stuff. You and I are doing that right now. Anybody listening or watching this is doing that right now. You’re using long-term history and pattern recognition. Say, Oh, that’s a microphone. Oh, that’s a computer. Well, that’s a window. Well, that’s a person as opposed to vibrations of light and sound. So your brain evolved to do some very sophisticated stuff that computers can barely even touch yet about how well it does that. Right.


David Allen: [00:16:04] 

And yet you go to the store for lemons, come back with six things and no knows what. You got distracted? You forgot. You thought your head could remember everything you need at the store that night. And so in a simple way, a very sophisticated stuff happens when you actually externalize everything. So it’s possible to live a life where nothing pops into your head more than once.


Jerrod Murr: [00:16:28] 

Oh, really? Yeah. I think that that statement is, I think, groundbreaking and earth-shattering for most of us listening.


David Allen: [00:16:35] 

Unless you like the thought, there are a lot of things I think about more than once because it’s fun to think about them or it’s fun to kind of incubate on them or mutate about them or think, well, there’s a way we could do that. Or here’s the way you dance. Very good at that. We’re trying to remember what you need to think about. And even when you make conclusions about what you then need to do, about what you think about that. To be externalized, and that’s the problem, most people are not born doing these best practice behaviors.


David Allen: [00:17:05] 

You weren’t born knowing how to cook spaghetti or speak English or drive a car. Those are things you actually have to learn. So I just uncovered over all these years the art or the craft of how do you manage defining what your work is in life and you’re not born doing that.


Jerrod Murr: [00:17:21] 

What you’re saying was the most profound idea for me. When I first read the book 10 years ago, it radically changed my life to think of the phrase, and I summarize it this way if it’s in your head, it does not count. And I don’t know if you have that exact sentence in the book, but you have some very similar sentences and it’s externalizing those things. And I think that’s what many of us do not do, and that’s where we get in trouble. So if I’m out there as a busy person leading a stressful life, how do I start to externalize? What are some things that I need to do today?


David Allen: [00:17:53] 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Very, very, very high-tech solution for that in and paper. Nothing better even after, you know. Thirty-five years of doing this work for myself as well. I still capture low tech for the most part, probably ninety-five percent of the time because you’re good ideas don’t show up where you’re going to implement those ideas. You’ll be buying bread at the store thinking something to bring up with the marketing meeting. You’ll be in the marketing meeting remembering you need bread. So if you only want to have the thought about what to bring up the marketing meeting once, you better have, like I do, a little portable version of that. Right.


David Allen: [00:18:30] 

A little portable notepad I keep in my pocket for thirty-five years because a lot of things show up out there. I’m not sure what to do with them yet, but it might be something important that I need to do or decide about. So I’m grabbing those as they’re showing up and then I’m throwing these notes mark off those three, but I’ll throw these notes into my physical entry. And then clean slate again for capturing ideas the country will get cleaned up using process two and three, clarifying what’s on that note and then organizing the results of that into an organization system of lists that I categorize to be reminded of errands I run, things to talk to people about projects I know I’ve committed to complete, etc.


David Allen: [00:19:14] 

So this process is really an externalising process and you don’t have to go very far. Just grab a pen and paper. I imagine most people, even for the few 15 minutes that we’ve been talking, have had their thoughts go somewhere that has nothing to do with it. You and I are talking about Europe and I know they shouldn’t. They should have been listening to you and me.


Jerrod Murr: [00:19:35] 

Absolutely! We should have their undivided attention. One hundred percent focus. But as we know humans, we get distracted. That’s what I love. How simple the process is. Your answer is pen and paper. I mean, and that’s that’s so profound because we we tend to think, especially in 2021, it’s a new gadget. It’s a new app. It’s a new whatever that’s going to solve on my problem. Is it you’re telling me? Actually, no. It’s the agreements you’re making with yourself and this five-step process that begins with capture, which is pretty simple. It’s externalize your thoughts, put them down in real time when they happen. That’s what you tell exactly.


David Allen: [00:20:10] 

Yeah. Yeah. Well said.


Jerrod Murr: [00:20:12] 

What are some of the agreements that we need to start making with ourselves? I loved that phrase and I’d like to unpack it a little bit more because you said honestly, you kind of blew my mind there, David. That’s not what I anticipated when I said what causes people stress most? And you said it’s not keeping agreements with themselves. That is a profound statement that I would love for you to unpack a little bit. How do we break these with ourselves? What should we be making?


David Allen: [00:20:34] 

Well, the first thing you need to do is recognize the agreements you have made. I wouldn’t make any new agreements. Do you figure out the ones you’ve already made your already overwhelming yourself get a handle on those you’ve already made that will help clear the deck to then give you more freedom internally in your head to then make better agreements with yourself. So a lot of people need to decide what not to do, but you can’t decide what not to do unless you know everything you’ve decided you might want to do.


Jerrod Murr: [00:21:01] 

Well, I feel like I’m in your counseling office right now. And so let’s break this down. I’ll I’ll throw myself…


David Allen: [00:21:06] 

I’ll send you an invoice, OK?


Jerrod Murr: [00:21:09] 

Yes, I’m going to need it. But but tell me so let’s psychoanalyze me for a second. All right. What are some examples of those agreements that I might because I feel like many of us don’t even realize we’ve made these agreements with ourselves that we…


David Allen: [00:21:20] 

Right. You want to be transparent?


Jerrod Murr: [00:21:21] 

Absolutely. I’m ready. Yes.


David Allen: [00:21:23] 

Ok, relax. What most has your attention right now and your life and work aside from talking to me right now? If you stop talking to me, what would most have your attention?


Jerrod Murr: [00:21:34] 

We do online events at Paradigm Shift, and so it would be our online events are sequencing those events, organizing those events, that’s


David Allen: [00:21:43] 

And the final outcome of all that would be what if what was true in terms of the outcome? That would be, you know, what do you, what do you, you get to mark this off as done when what’s true?


Jerrod Murr: [00:21:57] 

Oh, my goodness gracious. OK, well, see, there’s that’s probably what you’re talking about, because I have there are so many layers there. I mean, that’s that’s a lot of stuff.


David Allen: [00:22:05] 

Layers to what?


Jerrod Murr: [00:22:07] 

Layers to having that happen. So that’s our facilitators are prepared. They have


David Allen: [00:22:12] 

Successful event. Successful event produced.


Jerrod Murr: [00:22:15] 

Exactly. Successful event produced.


David Allen: [00:22:17] 

That would be on my project list. OK, so now you identified that. So what’s the next step, by the way, if I’m going to pay you a million dollars right now to stop talking to me and do the first thing you need to do to move the needle toward that outcome, where would you go? What would you do? What would I see you doing


Jerrod Murr: [00:22:32] 

The very next step. I would meet with a gentleman on my team named Kyle.


David Allen: [00:22:36] 

And how would you do that?


Jerrod Murr: [00:22:37] 

I would shoot him a text. I would say, hey, Kyle, I’d like to meet immediately because David’s going to pay me a million dollars.


David Allen: [00:22:46] 

And how would you send that text?


Jerrod Murr: [00:22:48] 

Oh, I would pick up my phone, pick up my phone and type it to him.


David Allen: [00:22:53] 

By the way, how long would that take?


Jerrod Murr: [00:22:55] 

Oh, my goodness. Send Kyle a text? 15 seconds. 30 seconds.


David Allen: [00:22:59] 

So wouldn’t it be on my list to be done something that would take less than two minutes to do?


Jerrod Murr: [00:23:04] 

Ok, that’s like a leadership joke right there. You just leader juked me


David Allen: [00:23:09] 

Well, you just look, I just walk you through step one. OK, what’s got your attention? That’s the capture. Event, right? Yes. What was your successful outcome or do successful event. Great. And then what’s the next step? Oh, the the text, whatever. Yeah. So all you did was outcome action, which is the core elements of productivity. I’m trying to produce them. How do we allocate and reallocate money, resources to make it happen. So we just did step one or two. OK, now organize would be if it was going to take you longer to write that text.


David Allen: [00:23:43] 

And by the two-minute rule, once you figure figured out the next action on something like you can do in two minutes, you should do it because it would take you longer to track it to do it right. So you’ve got the thing hung up and spinning around in your head, waking up at three o’clock in the morning. Oh, damn. What about that conference and what I need to do? Because you haven’t finished your thinking. I just walk you through, finish your thinking process. You identified what do I still need to think about? So you had to think about what is what is this thing’s got my attention.


David Allen: [00:24:11] 

Why it has my attention is because I have this agreement with myself to have a successful event and then I have an agreement with myself to be appropriately engaged with getting to that outcome. The way you get appropriately engaged, you figure out what the very next action is and then step three is organize that which you don’t need to do in a two minute action should already be done. But if you say, OK, I need to now make a note to email or to text whatever and use that where you see that when you could do that, that’s the organized. If you had done that, that would not be on your mind. Right. It doesn’t mean that you haven’t finished that, but you’re now appropriately engaged with it.


David Allen: [00:24:53] 

So here’s a big secret. Don’t tell anybody. Everybody turn your body. Turn your stuff off right now. Do not hear this. I’m going to share a big secret of the universe. Getting things done is not so much about getting things done as it is about getting appropriately engaged with your commitments so that some part of it present whatever you’re doing and not distracted by all of those open loops


Jerrod Murr: [00:25:14] 

Wow! Getting appropriately engaged with your commitments. Now, I know that you told me not to tell anybody, but you’re dropping dimes here. That was that is really, really good. OK, then, real, real live follow up question to you, David, then now that you’re going to pay me a million bucks for the text and then you’re going to invoice me for our time together.


David Allen: [00:25:32] 

Yeah. A mIllion two. 


Jerrod Murr: [00:25:33] 

Let me ask you this then. I’ve gotten too many commitments. What do I do? I got too many commitments out there. I feel I feel like I’m committed to my family. I’ve got three kids, my wife, my place of worship, my place of work. My, I’m all over the place. I got too many commitments.


David Allen: [00:25:49] 

Become an atheist and divorce your wife and go to a cave in Tibet.


Jerrod Murr: [00:25:56] 

I love it. What if I’m not willing to do that, though? How do I start reducing commitments?


David Allen: [00:26:00] 

Well, have you ever walked into a restaurant that a big menu?


Jerrod Murr: [00:26:03] 

Yes, I have


David Allen: [00:26:04] 

What you do walk out too many options. I know you went, wow, look at all the options.


Jerrod Murr: [00:26:13] 

Yeah, OK. Well, so it’s OK for me to have a lot of commitments.


David Allen: [00:26:18] 

Why not? So you can only do one at a time, so at the half empty, half full, if there was the glass right there feeling comfortable talking to me as right now exactly what you need to do, given your mission and purpose on the planet, given everything that’s important to you. Talking to David is exactly what you need to do instead of anything else. You just need to have looked at everything else and said, this is it. If you haven’t, you’re not fully present with me,


Jerrod Murr: [00:26:41] 

Ok, so the key is not necessarily we have too many commitments or whatever, it’s about this inappropriate engagement with the commitment.


David Allen: [00:26:50]



Jerrod Murr: [00:26:51] 

I love everything that you’re saying because it’s all rooted in the five steps. It’s not. I mean, what I’m getting at is no one could give you a scenario that these these are not applicable, whether it’s cleaning your kitchen or figuring out what to do with your life or if you feel like, well, I’m overcommitted, I have no choices. That’s where I feel like people get stuck because they are like, oh, I just can’t get out of a commitment or I can’t do this whatever. And it’s like you have options. That’s OK.


David Allen: [00:27:15] 

Well, I have to bring in the other point, and I don’t overcomplicate this for everybody, but the truth is the five steps to sort of manage your life horizontally. Horizontally, meaning during the day, how many different things do you need to manage to stay, take control? I got to feed the cat. I got to handle this. I needed to spend this time with my kids. I need to spend this time in prayer. And it has been this whatever. So you’ve got a lot of things during the day. You got, you know, probably hundreds of thousands of priorities. Right.


David Allen: [00:27:41] 

So keeping all that under control is what the five steps let you do vertically. That says, why am I talking to Jerry? What the heck am I doing with my life? And I want to talk to somebody. I like this. And that’s where I identified the six horizons that we have commitments with ourselves. It’s not just one single horizontal thing. Now, I need to look at, OK, why am I on the what’s my vision of wild success if I were fulfilling one of my things I need to accomplish in the next year or two? One of the things I need to manage in order to be able to get their finances in my relationships. Well, what are the things I need to finish the projects about all of those things? And then what are all the things I need to do about those? I couldn’t get it any simpler than that, but I recognize the six horizons we all have.


David Allen: [00:28:25] 

And so if you said, well, how do I make sense out of all these? Too much to do. I say too much relative to your life purpose, too much relative to the vision of where you want to go too much relative to what you need to accomplish over the next year. Which horizon have you not fully identified yet that you might need to work on to get more clear about and your life purposes? You know, if you’re if you if you have a spiritual base, hey, look, the guy or the woman or whoever is upstairs that you trust, what are they telling you?


David Allen: [00:28:54] 

You’ve got a still small voice inside of there that’s connected to all that all the time. Right. Ask them which area you need to run. Ask them what you want to bring up with your life partner right now. And I ask them which thing you need to do. And so being able to feel comfortable with the different horizons that we have these commitments and then engage with your life in terms of all the numerous things we need to manage horizontally, as well as all the commitments we’ve got vertically in terms of all that, that’s that’s not a simple task. It’s a lifelong craft


Jerrod Murr: [00:29:25] 

Absolutely. And balancing the horizontal. So that aligns with the vertical. You’re right. You said you preface by saying, I don’t want to overcomplicate it. Well, everyone listening. You need to simplify your life by reading this book. And once you do, you’re going to become a zealot like I am. I am a zealot for getting things done. And so I’m excited because there’s actually another level. So if you read the book and you’re like, I love this, I want to know more, I want to study more, I want to even maybe become certified. Actually, David has an answer for you. David, tell me about the certification and how people, if they are jiving with this and they want to learn more and do more, what is your certification and how does one pursue it?


David Allen: [00:30:05] 

Well, certification takes on a lot of forms, if you wanted to be involved with this professionally, then you can go to our website getting things done and look at training and coaching and click on that and then click on whatever country you’re in and you’ll see who are certified partner is that delivers training and coaching in those arenas, if that’s professional, something you’re interested in. But in terms of you doing this, you know, there’s been segregation of this other than do it. I think you need to sign onto there’s something you need to pay for that whatever. Although numerous channels that we’ve now created for people because they come from a lot of different levels, we’re getting things done for teens.


David Allen: [00:30:43] 

You know, a couple of years ago is a great book for young people between the age of 12 and 22 about how to take this material and use it more for the schooling and educational process. It’s the same methodology just sort of framed in those kind of languages we just created to Getting Things Done workbook, which if you want the ten simple steps to start to implement this, you can you can get it there. So there’s a lot of material and a lot of different forms depends on kind of what floats your boat in terms of how you like to get this material.


Jerrod Murr: [00:31:11] 

And I think it’s fascinating for everyone listening that you do have multiple paths, whether you are working with young people, whether you are a leader of a team and you want your whole team to have this common language. If you want your team to think about productivity and what it is we’re trying to produce, then you can get involved with David and his team at a variety of levels. And as he described, there’s really an entry point for everyone as simple as purchasing the book and and implementing the material yourself in your own life or working through it with a group, with a workbook, everything like that.


Jerrod Murr: [00:31:42] 

And so… Hey, we do this really cool thing. David called the Leadership Mixtape. All right. And we want to know out there, as a learner, as a listener of this podcast and others, I’m trying to be a better leader. I’m trying to manage my time and my life. Well, we’ve got a few questions here that I would love your top of mind answers. All right. Are you ready?


David Allen: [00:32:02] 

I hope so.


Jerrod Murr: [00:32:03] 

All right. Here we go. This is the pressure. What book should I read besides getting things done? We’re going to read that. We’re definitely going to read getting things done. What other book should I read if I want to become a better leader?


David Allen: [00:32:15] 

That’s a good question. A better leader, I would say I can’t leave the idea of a book called The Antidote by Oliver Berkman. Not so much about leadership, but what give you more freedom to be the kind of leader you want to be. And his subtitle is Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking. And it’s a fabulous book about the acceptance of current reality is so critical to begin with before you even have the space to be following positive thinking as opposed to the na-na-nu-nu don’t have any negative thoughts. Good luck.


David Allen: [00:32:54] 

So there’s a lot about acceptance of what the current reality is and even something simple. After years of just management consulting, one of the first things to do is get clear about what’s current reality. If you and your team can agree on what the current reality is, I don’t care how much brainstorming you do or how much collaboration you think you want to shoot each other because you want to start from here. I want to start from here. And so I say turn right. You say turn left and oh my God, if you don’t understand where here is, how much money do you really have? What’s the real truth about your company? What’s the real truth about your organization? What’s the real truth about how people are feeling? What’s the real truth about that? And getting the acceptance of current reality is is a first principle from my standpoint, spiritually as well as organization.


David Allen: [00:33:36] 

If you can accept what’s true, what you resist, you’re stuck with. So that’s a that’s a fabulous. But another book, by the way, I’m just starting to read, and I can only recommend it because my wife, who recommends very few books, said this is absolutely fabulous book. And this is not so much about wealth. It’s about leadership. It’s about it’s a positive history of the world that people are really good. Humankind. It’s called Humankind A Hopeful History by Rutka Bracamontes, he’s a Dutchman, but it’s in English and you know, Catherine was going, Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. It’s really about the the faith in the human spirit, because ultimately, we’re good people. We’re all good people. Given the opportunities, we’ll take advantage of that. And we will we will utilise that little express them. So those are there’s there’s a couple


Jerrod Murr: [00:34:27] 

Well, you’re you’re adding some good tracks to the mix tape. The next couple of questions really go together. What should I start doing and what should I stop doing?


David Allen: [00:34:35] 

What you need to start doing is externalising everything as you’re thinking and being able to see it in a more external way, in a larger context, and then reviewing the context of that on some consistent basis and a reflection process that you built in, as you know. And we build on the weekly review. But at some point you need to step back and manage the forest instead of hugging the trees and do that on a consistent basis. So whether you do that, watching your girls singing in the church choir on Sunday evening in the back pew back there and do the review of all your projects and all your life. Yeah. Or, you know, coffee, coffee and sit down, sit around and, you know, whatever and do however you need to do this, but you need some.


David Allen: [00:35:12] 

That’s the biggest lack up there in the professional executive, senior leadership level is reflection time. So make sure you build that not just once, but make that a consistent practice. However you do that, walk around the woods to have a good cup of coffee, a glass of wine, whatever it is that floats your boat. Yeah. And step back but and not go unconscious, but actually to step back and still think about your world. But from a higher perspective, those are the two things that are probably the most critical things that people need to do more. What they need to stop doing is letting their brain be their office and nothing else that’s been happening.


Jerrod Murr: [00:35:53] 

How much time does someone need to reflect in a week, David? In your experience, like chalk out this kind of time, here’s where to start.


David Allen: [00:36:00] 

Well, anywhere between ten minutes and two days, OK, if you really wanted to do this, would take probably a couple of days and you’ll actually get a lot done in those two days. If you actually captured everything that has your attention, walk it through this process and organize it properly. And so trust a system for yourself. Let’s take a couple of days. That’s our standard coaching that we do when we coach people, one of our executives, you know, to walk them through this process.


David Allen: [00:36:27] 

But come on, how long does it take you to write down the ten things that have your attention? Like I just ask you and decide what the next action is and then park go somewhere that’s going to be reminded to do it so you can get value out of this immediately. Just depends on how much value to want to go. How clear do you really want to go? And that’s how much time you need to invest. Now, do you have a favorite sports team?.


Jerrod Murr: [00:36:48] 

I do the Oklahoma City Thunder. I’m a basketball junkie and I love the Oklahoma City Thunder.


David Allen: [00:36:53] 

How much time do you think they spend preparing for their work?


Jerrod Murr: [00:36:57] 

A lot.


David Allen: [00:36:58] 

And how much time do you spend preparing for your work?


Jerrod Murr: [00:37:01] 

Not as much.


David Allen: [00:37:04] 

There’s a big duh. So if people spent seven hours of an eight hour workday getting ready, the last hour is going to be hot. And then people wanting to spend five minutes. Yeah. So stop doing stop being in the rat cage. Stop. What about working harder or faster, getting more? By getting clear and getting current getting presents, he will be present with yourself and you talk to the. Watch your girl play soccer without having being on your iPhone. Cook spaghetti and be really into spaghetti, no new sauce I’m going to make this time or I’m going to have this difficult conversation and I don’t want anything else on my mind. I’m going to be present with this person so that I can bring the spirit present in our conversation.


Jerrod Murr: [00:37:53] 

That is so good. That is so good. And that’s a good place to stop because I don’t know if you felt the passion in David’s voice there and that this stuff works. It has worked for me, as you heard in the first segment. And David, how can we follow you? I know I can get the book everywhere, but if someone is listening to this, they’re like, OK, I want more. Tell me once again, what’s the website? What’s the follow? What’s the next step that I should take to get more of David Allen in this incredible process.


David Allen: [00:38:19] 

gettingthingsdone.com Just go just go spend a few minutes just surfing around and getting things done. Dotcom, we have a free newsletter podcast out there. If you’re a YouTube fan, just go to the GTD channel on YouTube and you’ll see I’ve done three TEDx as I’ve done dozens of interviews out there that people can go. And I’ve been here a lot more sort of personality of me and talking about all this stuff like we like you and I’ve been talking. So there’s lots of channels out there just if anybody’s interested, I just. You got a nice little computer. Go surf around.


Jerrod Murr: [00:38:56] 

Excellent. Well, thank you so much, David, for your time. Thank you for putting us in your schedule, externalising this and making it happen, getting things done together. We really appreciate it. And we’re all going to go out there and learn more. I’ve got two pages of notes, and I already knew some of the stuff. So thanks so much!


David Allen: [00:39:10] 

Yeah, thanks, Jerrod.


Jerrod Murr: [00:39:19] 

See what I mean? Absolutely fantastic. I absolutely loved that interview. It was so cool to get to speak to him again. I’ve heard him speak many, many times, read his book, seen his videos. He did not disappoint. But I’m already converted. I was a convert to begin with. I was afraid that I was overselling it to our team here, a good leader podcast and a paradigm shift. But Ang, what do you think? Pretty good, right?


Andrea Hyre: [00:39:43] 

You do sell stuff, but I would never say you oversell stuff and. And David Allen did not disappoint I was super, super impressed.


Jerrod Murr: [00:39:50] 

What was your favorite part or like your big take away because you have not read the book, right?


Andrea Hyre: [00:39:55] 

No! Mean, I need to know, but I have it.


Jerrod Murr: [00:39:57] 

Yeah. And that’s totally cool. Like I said, I’ve read the book. I was familiar with a lot of the practices, but most of our listeners presumably have not read the books. I’m curious what stood out to you the most and what did you take away that you’re going to try to apply or think about in the process?


Andrea Hyre: [00:40:10] 

I think one of the biggest takeaways that I think I have done better in seasons than others, but I think it stuck with me because it is truly a better time in season one. I’m doing it is what he said about the fact that most leaders simply don’t incorporate reflection time into their time management, into their doing, into their projects. Of course, you mentioned that, you know, everything will just stay in our brain and I can typically be one to get stuff done on paper. But I mean,


Andrea Hyre: [00:40:41] 

I even notice when I do things as simple as like on a Monday, I go through my whole last to do list of the last week and re-prioritize rescript out the to-do list for that week before anything else gets added to it. But just with those kind of remaining things are and honestly, sometimes that can take up to like 20 minutes or so and it feels like it’s kind of pointless. But it was really cool to hear him say like that is one of the major breaks of really executing efficient time management and just organizing your life instead of all of it running you and and controlling you. So that was an interesting segment.


Jerrod Murr: [00:41:17] 

Yeah. I put an hour at least into every Friday of reflection time, looking at the week that has been and the week to come. It’s good. And I can tell when I don’t do it, I can feel it. I know it. So that is an incredible take away. He was just a, quote, machine. I love some of the things he said. He said, you know, you’ve got to manage the forest, stop hugging the trees. And I just thought that was such a really cool illustration in my brain. Like, wow, there’s so many times that I just hug those trees instead of stepping back. And what you’re saying, the reflection time, stepping back, looking at the forest, prioritizing, thinking about that capture, clarify, organize, reflect and then engage. So many times we just jump to engage, you know, it’s just like, oh, I got I got to do this. I do this, I do this. And we’re just putting out fires.


Jerrod Murr: [00:42:05] 

So that’s all good, Now what?] And most of our episodes, we want to give you some practical steps, some takeaways. That’s all good. And many times we can listen to a podcast or even read a book or engage with some sort of learning material. But then we go, OK, that was great. But now what? Can I actually practically use it? So here are my quick takeaways from this. Now, this is what I actually his system is phenomenal.


Jerrod Murr: [00:42:31] 

The book is fantastic. In full disclosure, though, I’ve really boiled it down to about three practices that really have changed my life. The reflections, one of them. But to me, here’s my Cliff Notes for the book and the entire system that if you want to do something today, think of these three rules. And this is where I went from. The guy so stressed out that he’s crying in his van and getting shingles to now I don’t cry in my van all the time and I haven’t got shingles. But, you know, presumably I’m being a little bit better.


Jerrod Murr: [00:43:02] 

Rule number one. And he mentioned this a lot. If it’s in your head, it does not count. That’s rule number one. And he said, you know, as humans, our brains have evolved to do great things. But it’s a crappy office. We keep so much information in our brains. I thought a couple of ways that we do it. When I’m leaving for work in the morning, my beautiful bride might ask me to do something like, hey, can you swing by the grocery store on the way home from work, grab some milk? Sure. No problem, babe. I can do that. Where do I store that information I stored in my head. But if it’s in your head, it does not count because what happens, I go to work, work happens, emails, busyness, life. Just doing my job.


Jerrod Murr: [00:43:45] 

I get home, I walk in, I’m king of the castle, I return home. I am ready for my wife and my children to adore me. Hey, babe, did you get the milk and I immediately have to turn around and go. I’m headed back to the store because I did not, I forgot. So it’s crazy if you stop and start cataloging like he advised. It’s amazing how much stuff we try to keep in our heads. Small things in the office. The take a work example. Hey, Ang, can you email me that document that we talked about this morning in the meeting? Oh, sure, absolutely. I’ll email it to you. Where do we store that information? Often it’s our brain. We just. Oh, OK. Yeah, I’ll email and I’ll text this person.


Jerrod Murr: [00:44:30] 

Which leads me to rule number two. Remember, this is my “good. Now what?” Rule number one, if it’s in your head, it does not count. So write it down. Have a system. Number two, if it takes less than two minutes, do it right away. He also mentioned this whenever I was transparent and he talked about breaking down the you know, what’s the goal? What do you want to produce? And then what is the next action item? If it takes in less than two minutes, do it right away. Those are things like send the email reply to the message. Right. I’m really bad about reading an email or reading a text message and internally responding or thinking, oh, I need to tell them this.


Jerrod Murr: [00:45:05] 

I need to say this so often. Just do it right then right there. So remember one, if it’s in your head, it does not count number two, two minute rule. If it’s less than two minutes, do it immediately. That’s what he meant when he said, well, Jerrod, in my system, that would have already been done. If it’s text someone, just do it. That doesn’t even go on a list, that doesn’t even get written down. Just get it done.


Jerrod Murr: [00:45:27] 

Rule number three is the reflection time. But in the book, he goes into some incredible detail that all summarize by saying when you’re writing things down and jotting it down and collecting everything and you’re organizing and trying to clarify it’s do delegate defer. That’s the three D in his system that everything that you jot down when you’re reflecting, if you take an hour, if you take you know, he said ten minutes to two days, it doesn’t matter how much time you can give, give it immediately. You know, it’s a little bit like whenever someone says, you know, I’m too busy to meditate for an hour, you really need to meditate two hours. That’s how I feel. That phrase that that quote is how I feel about this system. You know, it’s like I’m too busy for reflection time.


Jerrod Murr: [00:46:10] 

Then you need extra reflection time. Yeah. So whatever you can give, get it out of your head. You got it down. And when you’re reflecting, if you’re like, OK, what do I do, write everything down that is on your mind. Either an activity, a project, whether it’s home, whether it’s work, whatever. Like when I do the brain dump, whenever I’m writing it down, it’s things like Jocelyn’s soccer practice, you know, talk to Ang about next week’s podcast schedule, write the next chapter of the book, talk with Kyle about training schedule. It’s some big things, humongous things, and it’s some very small things. They’re very quick. But I put it all down on that calendar and every single thing it’s do delegate defer. Do you do it? If you’re going to do it, it goes somewhere on your calendar.


Jerrod Murr: [00:46:55] 

Write it down somewhere. If you delegate it, that means you need other people for it or you’re asking other people for help. We you’re assigning it to other people. Fine, then delegate it or defer. And this is where some of us, especially overachievers, you know, those of us in the race, I’m raising my hand, the overachievers, the doers who think they can do everything. It’s like some things you just have to look at it. That’s not getting done this week. It’s just not happening. Yeah, and that’s the difference. Yeah. Are you bad about that?


Andrea Hyre: [00:47:23] 

You know what? My husband I were just in a conversation about this the other day. I don’t know if it’s a work experience I’ve had, but I think I’m just I’m too realistic to get hung up on the deferred to me. It’s just like I can’t remember which system it was that I had read. But there is some system where you have your priorities, you know, of lists of what you need. It needs to get done. So I prioritize in my little thing I’m writing down. I know what actually has to get done by Friday. I basically always have it to do list that like I never leave it. I’m like, oh, every single thing is marked off with the world we live in that rarely ever happens. Or if it was, I just got three more things added before I left that day.


Andrea Hyre: [00:48:05] 

So that doesn’t stressing me out to have remaining things there. If I know I’ll do like a top five for that week or two big things that I cannot leave this office today until they get done. And I kind of prioritize in that way. And the rest I’m OK deferring. I knew the two really big things, what the two really big things were and the rest I do have deferred or delegated out or whatever it is. So yeah, you know, that one’s not as difficult. Weirdly enough.


Jerrod Murr: [00:48:29] 

Here’s where it’s difficult for me. It’s things like, are we going to redecorate the kitchen? You know, I’m saying like it’s things that my wife and I, Jan and I have talked about before or like, you know, that we keep revisiting, but nothing ever really happens. It’s like, OK, we kind of talked about it. Are we going to do it or we’re not going to say it? Like, OK, well, yeah. Where are we going to go on vacation? Well, I don’t know. Or are the girls. Are we going to sign them up for swimming lessons? Well, I don’t know. Let’s let’s talk about that later.


Jerrod Murr: [00:48:57] 

Anything that you say, let’s talk about that later. You’re subconsciously deferring it anyway, but you’re not writing it down. It’s not in a system. You’re just putting it off. And so that’s where I get in trouble, where I’m like, that’s good. Yeah, that’s true. You know, I’m saying. And that’s where it’s like, OK, just be honest and say we’re not making the decision this week. So let’s not can we let’s not talk about it. Let’s put it on the calendar. So actually, if you want another pragmatic tip, my wife and I have a monthly date night. Now we say that tongue in cheek where we actually take a couple hours and look at all the dates on our calendar. But we try to make it fun. I mean, we just sit at our kitchen table, we pop popcorn and just sit there and we go over our calendars.


Jerrod Murr: [00:49:37] 

But at our best, I’m not saying we’re perfect all the time, but our best we’ll actually put like in the calendar, make the decision like instead of going, OK, are we kind of or not? No, we defer it right to whenever we’re actually going to say make a decision, let’s, you know, or whatever the case may be. So that’s that’s a new way to think about defer that. Maybe it’s like,


Jerrod Murr: [00:49:56] 

OK, and this is where this is why I got shingles. I was thinking about so many things that I didn’t realize I was thinking about. I was constantly like thinking about it. Yeah. Because it was in my head and I didn’t have a system where I could say, you know what, it’s not that this is unimportant. It’s not important today. It’s not important this week. I’m not going to sabotage my mental energy by allowing that to hibernate there. I’m going to put it in my calendar, on my piece of paper, in my schedule later down the road at a specific time. So it’s not negligence.


Jerrod Murr: [00:50:25] 

It’s deliberate inaction. Oh, oh, oh, I like that. Yeah, I like that term deliberate inaction that just came up with it, but I like it, you know, say like yeah. I can’t do anything about this right now. I’m going to put it in my day. Yeah. OK, there you go. OK, that’s deferred.


Andrea Hyre: [00:50:41] 

So, so the opposite is procrastinate? Um like if, if we’re talking that’s occurring. Are you really asking.


Jerrod Murr: [00:50:48] 

No, I would say it’s procrastination on purpose. So procrastination to me is putting something off when you should not have, whereas I’m saying deferring something is an intentional willful decision to do something at a sad day. So it’s like, are you procrastinating Christmas this year? No, Christmas happens December 25th. We have it. It’s on the calendar. Deferring is where it is in your system at a later date. Procrastination is allowing it to sit there and doing nothing about it. So I hope that makes sense either way. Thank you for listening to the Good Leader podcast. Go out there and be a good leader.