GTD Workflow Map and Articles - David Allen

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Some general information about David Allen's book "Getting the Work Done". Includes a copy of his workflow map that accompanies his coaching DVD. See his products and take his test at

Transcript of GTD Workflow Map and Articles - David Allen


    The GTD Workflow Map is a stunning visual learning tool for understanding how David Allen's models for control & perspective come together. This set includes two full-color Maps in two sizes, shipped in a rolled tube, and a DVD with David coaching you through the Map. This highly anticipated product was a 2009 bestseller.

    "I spent more than two years crafting and fine-tuning the map, ensuring that it would thoroughly and accurately describe the essential elements of time- and self-management," says David, "It's as simple as I could get it, while still embodying the subtleties and complexities that have to be factored in, to make it real and useful. And the visual representation we've come up with I think is a highly effective way to make something this meaningful really clear."

    -David Allen

    If you ever feel like you need to get more in control or regain your focus, here is the ultimate guide for getting and staying on your game. The set of productivity best practices which David Allen has researched and synthesized over the last three decades are brought all together into one stunning visual display - the GTD Workflow Map. It's a rich compilation of the key steps for gathering, clarifying, organizing, and reviewing everything you need to track and manage, as well as an explanation of all of the factors that you must take into account in determining priorities.

    The Map gives wonderful, illustrated detail on how the phases of your workflow tie together:






    Criteria for Choosing

    Horizons of Focus

    3-Fold Nature of Work

    Each package includes:

    1. One large color poster, perfect for your office or conference room. 20" wide by 30" long, 1

  • or 51cm wide by 77cm long.

    2. One smaller color poster, great for keeping close at hand at your desk. 11" wide by 17" long, or 28cm wide by 44cm long.

    3. A DVD of David Allen walking you through the key GTD models illustrated on the Map. 35 minutes long. A great way to understand the essentials.

    The poster was created by our partner XPLANE, the visual thinking company. Visit to learn more about how XPLANE clarifies complex business issues through visual collaboration.


  • page 1 David Allen Company 2008. All rights reserved. RV04DEC09

    Why do people complain that theres no time to get their work done? Because there is more work to do than the work they think they have to do.

    Many times people we work with express frustration that they cant get any of their work done because of the overwhelming amount of interruptions, email, and other inputs that show up during the course of a normal day. I cant get my work done, because there is so much (other) work to do!

    If you are ever in that frustrated state, it might help to understand the threefold nature of what constitutes your work.

    You have a choice of doing three very different things when you work pre-defined work, ad hoc work, and defining your work.

    1. Pre-defined Work

    This is what you would be doing all day if you got no new input or interruptions of any sort. You would probably be working off the inventory of actions and projects that you came in with work that you have already determined needs doing. There are the phone calls you need to make, the documents you need to draft, the ideas you need to outline on the project, etc. That list of things to potentially be doing, when you have some discretionary time, would be challenging enough to sift through given your volume (most professionals have 150-200 of these discrete actions). But what you are very often faced with is the necessity (and opportunity) to do...

    2. Work As It Appears The phone rings. Its not on your lists or your calendar. But you take the call, nonetheless, and consequently spend twenty

    minutes talking to a client of yours about a potentially important, or at least an interesting, topic. Before youre off that call, your boss sends you an instant message to schedule a half hour meeting in the afternoon to update you on a new development and get your input on it. You acknowledge back OK while youre still talking to the client. For that meeting, though, you know immediately that you are going to need to update two spreadsheets and surf the Web about a company thats been on your radar pertaining to this project, before you walk in. That means do it now, or otherwise not eat lunch. In this scenario you are doing the work as it shows up to be done. You are actually defining your work rapidly in this case, and choosing to do the new stuff instead of any of the pre-determined potential activities. Many of us have whole days of this nature. We cant get to anything on our action lists because the ad-hoc nature of the day wound up defining and requiring our total focus, non-stop.

    That, added to our inventory of pre-defined work, creates a substantial volume of on-deck options for things to be doing. But then theres the e-mail constantly filling up your in-basket. And meeting notes from last night still on the legal pad on the corner of your desk. And the fourteen voicemails that you keep saving because they mean something you might need

    The Threefold Nature of Work by David Allen

  • page 2David Allen Company 2008. All rights reserved. RV04DEC09

    to do, but you dont know exactly what yet. And more voicemails coming in during the day. So, in addition to all the stuff on your lists and all the stuff coming at you during the day that you have to engage with as it shows up, you know theres still the on-going requirement to be...

    3. Defining Work

    This is processing and emptying your in-basket, your email, your meeting notes, etc. assessing the new inputs and making decisions about what needs to be done about them. You may do some quick actions as you define them (a la the two-minute rule), delegate things to others (to be tracked on your Waiting For... list), and you will probably be adding more action items and projects to your inventory of defined work, as you review and think about the meaning of the content of those notes. Oh yeah, I told Raphael I would call him back about possible times to meet next week...

    This activity of defining work, based upon the constant flow of new incoming information and communication, requires an average of one hour per day, for the typical professional. Thats just to stay current not to clean up and process any backlog that may have accumulated prior to today.

    So what? Everything I have described so far is common sense, or at least a common awareness about the way things really are. Heres the rub: I have noticed that many people act as if (2) is some sort of burden to endure, and (3) is some irrelevant activity aside from their work. I have my list of things to do. Why am I being burdened with things that arent on my lists, and why am I now in addition having to deal with all of these e-mails, voicemails, conversation notes, business cards, receipts, and tons of other inputs coming at me from my outside world?

    I dont get it. Its all your work. Some is done when it appears, and some is done when you choose to do it instead of whats showing up. And processing input is required to trust that the inventory of your pre-defined work is complete enough to evaluate its contents against your new options of things to do.

    Are you truly pretending that your boss doesnt have the authority to reallocate your focus toward a new and unexpected priority? Get real. Are you honestly saying that now the world is at fault for reconfiguring itself to present you with things you werent aware of twelve hours ago? Get a grip. And how long can you honestly say you are comfortable doing anything, without checking your voicemail or e-mail?

    The key is how efficiently and effectively you know how to process new stuff, and how functional your system is for maintaining and reviewing your inventory of commitments. Then you accept and manage the input processing as a critical component, you review the whole game frequently enough to know (in your gut) how to evaluate the surprises and unexpected work, and you have a sufficiently functional system for capturing and managing all the various rivers and streams of this complex environment, to feel at least OK about what youre not doing. Master key to life.

    How much of which kind of work to do, when, is the eternal dance of the workday. You cant really do more than one of them at a time, though you can get really fast with processing work while youre on hold on the phone, and waiting for meetings to start. There may be interruptions that are allowed that are not functional or valuable, but managing those is just tactical to your definition of your job. Its an eternal challenge of allocating limited resources (the definition of management) its not an inherent problem.

  • page 3David Allen Company 2008. All rights reserved. RV04DEC09

    How much of your day and week do you need to assume is going to be ad hoc and unexpected? How much of your day really is required for cleaning up your in-baskets so that you can trust your backlog doesnt have landmines and unseen priorities lurking? When are you dedicating critical executive time for updating your contents and maybe improving your own process for capturing, clarifying, organizing, and reviewing your work?

    Get your habits and your systems up to handling it. And get used to it.

    For more David Allen Company tools and educational content, check out our GTD Products section at For our online learning center, visit GTD Connect at

  • page 1 www.davidco