david allen gtd

Ep04: The Zen-like Art of ‘Getting Things Done’ | with David Allen

I’m commonly asked, “How in the world do you balance so many different projects at once?” In this episode I give away my secret weapon and the foundation of my entire productivity system – GTD.

» Click here to download a summary of the GTD system plus a visual flowchart

In my never ending quest to eliminate as much busy work from my life as possible and take clear action towards my goals, I’ve spent years navigating the world of productivity and learning everything I can (hence my obsession with Trello). There are so many tools, apps, websites, and resources to help organize your to-do lists, but the fatal flaw of every single one of these tools is just that – they are just tools.

If you are truly interested in learning how to not only get more things done, but also ensure that you get the RIGHT things done, you need more than a shiny tool or a fancy to-do list app: You need a system. And in my opinion, the system that is going to – help you clarify your goals, organize your next actions, and most importantly clear the cobwebs in your head so you free up space to be creative again – is the GTD system developed by my guest David Allen.

Whether your tool of choice is Trello, OmniFocus, or even post-it notes, the GTD system can help alleviate tremendous amounts of stress and anxiety, avoid the never ending busy work, and get you on track to accomplishing your life’s work.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • Knowing the relationship between strength and relaxation
  • David’s path to studying Zen-spirituality and becoming a master of efficiency
  • The art of being present and engaging with your world
  • How treating your brain like a filing cabinet can be harmful
  • Learning to quantify and manage your tasks in a physical space
  • How you can fuel your brain to maximize creativity
  • Taking the simple steps of the GTD system and freeing your mind form clutter
  • Following the “Two-Minute Rule”
  • Using batching to handle busy-work efficiently
  • The importance of a “Someday, Maybe” knowing which tasks are most urgent
  • Knowing how to factor @Contexts into your project organization
  • Trusting in the inevitability of mistakes and learning to grow through them

Useful Resources Mentioned:


Getting Things Done (GTD)

Our Generous Sponsors:

This episode is made possible by Ergodriven, the makers of the Topo Mat, my #1 recommendation for anyone interested in moving more at their height-adjustable workstation. Listen, standing desks are only great if you’re standing well, otherwise you’re constantly fighting fatigue and chronic pain. Not like any other anti-fatigue mat, the Topo is scientifically proven to help you move more throughout the day which helps reduce discomfort and also increase your focus and productivity. And they’re really fun and a great conversation starter.

Guest Bio:

David Allen

David Allen is an author, consultant, international lecturer, Founder and Chairman of the David Allen Company. The David Allen Company is a productivity training and consulting company that provides services designed to increase performance, capacity and aligned execution. They count among their clients some of the world’s most prestigious corporations, including over 40% of Fortune 100 companies.

David Allen is widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on personal and organizational productivity. His 30 years of pioneering research, coaching and education of some of the world’s highest-performing professionals has earned him Forbes’ recognition as one of the “Top five executive coaches” in the United States, and as one of the “Top 100 thought leaders” by Leadership Magazine. Fast Company hailed David Allen “One of the world’s most influential thinkers” in the arena of personal productivity, for his outstanding programs and writing on time and stress management, the power of aligned focus and vision, and his ground-breaking methodologies in management and executive peak performance. David Allen was named one of the top ten business leaders of 2014 by the American Management Association.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared and published by Jakin Rintelman. Special thanks to Krystle Penhall and Sarah Furie for helping to spread the love!

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”