46 Insightful Quotes from Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done - David AllenLast week, I posted a review of Getting Things Done. (Click over to read, discuss, and win a copy for yourself.) Today, I’ve got 46 quotes from the book which are insightful for managing time, action, and life.

  1. The art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of our great men. –Captain J.A. Hatfield
  2. Time is the quality of nature that keeps events from happening all at once. Lately it doesn’t seem to be working. –Anonymous
  3. The hurrier I go, the behinder I get – anonymous
  4. There is one thing we can do, and the happiest people are those who can do it to the limit of their ability. We can be completely present. We can be all here. We can give all our attention to the opportunity before us. –Mark Van Doren
  5. Most of the stress people experience comes from inappropriately managed commitments they make or accept.
  6. Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought. –Henry Bergson
  7. Until those thoughts have been clarified and those decisions made, and the resulting data has been stored in a system that you absolutely know you will check as often as you need to, your brain can’t give up the job.
  8. Rule your mind or it will rule you. –Horace
  9. The lack of a good general-reference file can be one of the biggest bottlenecks in implementing an efficient personal action-management system.
  10. Most people feel best about their work when they’ve cleaned up, closed up clarified, and renegotiated all their agreements with themselves and others. Do this weekly instead of yearly.
  11. If you have collected, processed, organized, and reviewed all your current commitments, you can galvanize your intuitive judgment with some intelligent and practical thinking about your work and values.
  12. You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing the small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction. –Alvin Toffler
  13. The key ingredients to relaxed control are (1) clearly defined outcomes (projects) and the next actions required to move them toward closure, and (2) reminders placed in a trusted system that is reviewed regularly.
  14. If you’re not totally clear about the purpose of what you’re doing, you have no chance of winning.
  15. If you’re not sure why you’re doing something, you can never do enough of it.
  16. Imagination is more important than knowledge. –Albert Einstein
  17. The highest-performing people I know are those who have installed the best tricks in their lives.
  18. It is easier to act yourself into a better way of feeling than to feel yourself into a better way of action. –O.H. Mowrer
  19. You increase your productivity and creativity exponentially when you think about the right things at the right time and have the tools to capture your value-added thinking.
  20. If you’re filing system isn’t fast, functional, and fun, you’ll resist the whole process.
  21. Resist the urge to say, as almost everyone does initially, “Well, I know what’s in that stack, and that’s where I want to leave it.”
  22. The first time you pick something up from your in-basket, decide what to do about it and where it goes. Never put it back in “in.”
  23. I am rather like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I know what I want to do, but I don’t know where to begin. –Stephen Bayne
  24. Airtight organization is required for your focus to remain on the broader horizon.
  25. To make knowledge productive, we will have to learn to see both forest and tree. We will have to learn to connect. –Peter Drucker
  26. Thinking is the very essence of, and the most difficult thing to do in, business and in life. –David Kekich
  27. If you let yourself get caught up in the urgencies of the moment, without feeling comfortable about what you’re not dealing with, the result is frustration and anxiety.
  28. To ignore the unexpected (even if it were possible) would be to live without opportunity, spontaneity, and the rich moments of which “life” is made. –Stephen Covey
  29. Your ability to deal with surprise is your competitive edge.
  30. The best place to succeed is where you are with what you have. –Charles Schwab
  31. Getting someone in control of the details of his or her current physical work, and then elevating the focus from there, has never missed.
  32. If you feel out of control with your current actionable commitments, you’ll resist focused planning.
  33. The projects for which ideas just show up, ad hoc, on a beach or in a car or in a meeting—need to have an appropriate place into which these associated ideas can be captured.
  34. When people with whom you interact notice that without fail you receive, process, and organize in an airtight manner the exchanges and agreements they have with you, they begin to trust you in a unique way… It noticeably enhances your mental well-being and improves the quality of your communications and relationships, both personally and professionally.
  35. The sense of anxiety and guilt doesn’t come from having too much to do; it’s the automatic result of breaking agreements with yourself.
  36. Not being aware of all you have to do is much like having a credit card for which you don’t know the balance or the limit—it’s a lot easier to be irresponsible.
  37. You can’t legislate personal systems… You can, however, hold people accountable for outcomes, and for tracking and managing everything that comes their way.
  38. The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one. –Mark Twain
  39. No matter how big and tough a problem may be, get rid of confusion by taking one little step toward solution. Do something. -Georg Nordenholt
  40. There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. –John F Kennedy
  41. People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them –George Bernard Shaw
  42. When you start to make things happen, you really begin to believe that you can make things happen. And that makes things happen.
  43. The challenge is to marry high-level idealistic focus to the mundane activity of life. In the end they require the same thinking.
  44. An idealist believes that the short run doesn’t count. An cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run. -Sidney Harris.
  45. Empowerment naturally ensues for individuals as they move from complaining and victim modalities into outcomes and action defined for direction.
  46. A vision without a task is but a dream, a task without a vision is drudgery, a vision and a task is the hope of the world. –From a church in Sussex, England.

Which of these quotes resonates with you?

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