Friday, June 22, 2007

Here’s an excerpt from an interesting article about David Allen, author of the popular time management book Getting Things Done and how he’s build a successful consulting and training practice since 1996. Allen’s approach to time management starts with clearing your inbox and desk rather than the top-down approach to personal planning advocated by his main competitor Stephen Covey, who has sold 15 million copies of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

While Covey's book is thick with high-blown principles and paradigms, Allen has found God in the details, creating a systematic manual covering everything from how to organize your file cabinet (no hanging folders) to how often you should review the list of everything you want to accomplish in life (weekly). Never mind the theory -- here's what you do…

Clearly, GTD has become more of a calling than a business. "I'm not going to give this stuff away," he says, "but money is not the prime driver."

Like a monk who found God by doing his menial chores with painstaking care, Allen has found meaning in the dullest tasks of our busy lives. Perhaps that's why religious groups are particularly drawn to GTD. No studies exist proving that it increases productivity, decreases stress, or boosts the bottom line, Allen admits, but he says such questions miss the point entirely. "Anybody who experiences this and still needs proof didn't get it," he says.

As with any spiritual leader, what Allen is really selling is hope -- salvation from the cares of this world by cleaning off the desk and paying bills on time. "I'm still an old stoned hippie head," he says. "I love getting high: Nothing like cleaning up your in-basket! Wow, that feels cool, having a clear space to sit down and hang out with nothing on my mind except what's here. How does it relate to spirituality? How about just being present? The whole idea is that it's all right here."

Life is complicated; people are tired and overworked. They want to be told what to do. Allen is happy to oblige, because he's convinced he's discovered a truth as fundamental as gravity. "Just look around! Look at the inboxes, look at the stress. There's such a universal need. And nobody's got the answers but us."

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