Getting Things Done – the book – part 3

… starting from the point where the story stopped.

The Five Phases of Project Planning

The goal is to get projects and situations sufficiently clear and under control to get them off your mind, and not to lose any potentially useful ideas.David Allen
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In this chapter, the author presents a productive way to think about projects, situations, and topics. He first introduces the most brilliant and creative planner in the world, namely our brain. Then, he explains how the latter naturally “goes through five steps to accomplish virtually any task:

  • defining purpose and principles
  • outcome visioning
  • brainstorming
  • organizing
  • identifying next actions.”

Finally, he examines each of these five phases of natural planning.

Purpose and principles

If you’re truly experiencing the benefits of a purpose focus—motivation, clarity, decision-making criteria, alignment, and creativity—then your purpose probably is specific enough.David Allen

In his opinion, There’s no way to know [when you’re off track] until the purpose is defined. In that sense, the why question cannot be ignored. Besides, simply asking why has many benefits:

  • It defines success.
  • It creates decision-making criteria.
  • It aligns resources.
  • It motivates.
  • It clarifies focus.
  • It expands options.

It all comes down to purpose

Of equal value as prime criteria for driving and directing a project are the standards and values you hold . . . Whereas purpose provides the juice and the direction, principles define the parameters of action and the criteria for excellence of conduct.David Allen


It can can range from a simple statement of the project . . . to a completely scripted movie depicting the future scene in all its glorious detail, but the most important is to create clear outcomes.

In order to most productively access the conscious and unconscious resources available to you, you must have a clear picture in your mind of what success would look, sound, and feel like.David Allen


How to move from your current reality to your vision? To fill the gaps the author suggests using a few brainstorming techniques. The key is not to judge your ideas; they can be good or not so good, they should all be captured.

Go for Quantity, Not Quality Going for quantity keeps your thinking expansive. Often you won’t know what’s a good idea until you have it. David Allen


David Allen does not say; still, he explains, Organizing usually happens when you identify components and subcomponents, sequences of events, and/or priorities. Anyway, this is the next step (after brainstorming), or steps should I say, because the author lists a few key steps in The Basics of Organizing section.

Next actions

The final stage of planning comes down to decisions about the allocation and reallocation of physical resources to actually get the project moving. The question to ask here is, “What’s the next action?”David Allen

To be honest, I will need to read this part (if not the entire chapter) more than once to fully comprehend what Activating the Moving Parts, More to Plan?, and When the Next Action Is Someone Else’s is about.

To be continued…

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