Ready for Anything is David Allen’s second book, rather than the long-form, detailed breakdown of productivity tips and ideas this book is a collection of thoughts and essays that have been previously published on David’s email newsletter. A long time subscriber of the newsletter may find this book full of content they’ve seen before, but David states that the book is better as a collection useful to help mentally refresh yourself and keep your productivity system operating at peak efficiency.
The book doesn’t have a overall “message”, David stitches together several newsletter articles into five key collections with the aim of reinforcing the teachings in Getting Things Done and provide some insight from the trenches.
The Key Lessons
- GTD is guidelines rather than actual rules, and people need to remember that. Some things work for most people, not for others.
- Process, rather than energy and discipline, is key.
- Keeping your mind empty will allow you to be creative.
- Be prepared for the unexpected, as much as you can.
I discovered that people didn’t need more discipline as such— they needed a disciplined approach.
And others will require simply letting go of trying to get it perfect and just get going
An old Asian proverb says, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.”
Either you need new tires or you don’t. At some point, the tire thing crosses a very distinct line. Before then, not needed. After then, needed. Once they’re needed, there are no ABC categories for tires. They also don’t quite fit into the“quadrant” matrix. Either they are a project to be done as soon as we can or they are not. Period.
I just spent all morning pruning my large pine tree. It felt great. My creative juices were flowing, my aesthetics were sparking for just the right shapes and spatial relationships in that part of our yard. But it wasn’t on a list. This morning it just seemed like the thing to do.
ONE SUBTLE LIFE SKILL should become part of the competency set for all professionals (and all people): How fast can you get back to “ready”? How easily and rapidly can you relax and refocus when it’s necessary to do so? How good are you at creating a centered, balanced, aware, and open state of mind for the next input or impetus that emerges in your world? When something pushes your button, rings your bell, grabs your attention, bothers, upsets, engrosses, or excites you, what is your lag time to unhook from those feelings, clear the decks internally, and engage again appropriately with a fresh perspective and with the new subject/object that must now be confronted?
Get your ubiquitous capture tool in place and functioning as a standard life accessory. Going somewhere without it should feel as weird as going out without shoes on. It’ll take you to a whole new level of creative thinking and doing.
Stress comes from unkept agreements with yourself. You can relieve that stress only by cancelling the agreement, keeping the agreement, or renegotiating it. But you can’t renegotiate agreements with yourself that you forgot you made. Because psychic RAM has no sense of past or future, things filed there push on you to be done all the time. They must be made conscious, and kept so, to alleviate the pressure.
BFO: a Blinding Flash of the Obvious.
- Your productivity process can be more important than your personal discipline. Without the correct process all the discipline in the world won’t bear fruit.
- Aiming at perfection can restrict your output. Most of the time you just need to start. Just focus on the positive outcomes and take one step at a time to achieve it.
- Prepare to be surprised, by thinking about what could be heading your way soon you can react quicker and better.
- Have a tool to capture idea and actions with you at all times. If you don’t have to depend on your mind to keep hold of ideas you’ll find that you can be a lot more creative. Keeping things out of your mind reduces stress and allows your mind to work on bigger and better things.
- Your system doesn’t have to be complicated, you only need to trust that if you decide you don’t want to do a task now, you’ll have the ability to see it again in the future. If you can’t trust your system then it’ll still take up mental energy.
- Your system and lists are not the be-all-end-all. Sometimes you’ll find that some of your best ideas and projects are not on your lists.