Interview: Productivity Guru David Allen in Dubai

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His 2001 published book sold 1.6 million copies. He has 1.22 million Twitter followers and people world over wait for his seminars. He is the International Best Selling Author, Veteran Coach and a Management Consultant. Behold Dubai, he is coming here after a gap of 20 years.

David Allen, the world’s leading productivity guru has a cult following across the globe. He is best known as the creator of the time management method known as “Getting Things Done” or GTD.

Allen’s first book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity became a National Bestseller.

Catch him tomorrow at his seminar where he will speak about how you can achieve the above along with managing the workflow, making clear decisions and prioritization.

In an emailed correspondence with Arabian Gazette, David talks about Productivity and why it took a long 20 years for him to return to Dubai.

David Allen

Stress-free productivity–the term in itself is an oxymoron to the most of us. And, you do differ on that?

It depends on your definition of “productivity”. Mine is “achieving desired results.” You cannot do that optimally when you’re under stress. If you mean by stress, “significant exertion”–that’s sometimes required. Undistracted focus is absolutely necessary, but I wouldn’t call that stress.

Do you believe that each one of us needs some sort of coaching or training on productivity?

I believe we all have improvement opportunities. Just like top athletes need coaches to see things they might need to improve, that they can’t see themselves, the same would be true for any of us who care about continuous personal improvement.

How do you teach your clients/people on how to maximise their productivity?

We educate, train, and help them implement a five-step process, which invariably produces an increase in control and focus–key elements in productivity.

David’s five simple steps that apply order to chaos:

1. Capture- Collect what has your attention
2. Clarify- Process what it means
3. Organize- Put it where it belongs
4. Reflect- Review frequently
5. Engage- Simply do

How do you train yourself? How difficult is it to train and condition your own mind without any external help?

Some techniques I discovered on my own, which I still need to apply consistently; and I’m always open to other perspectives and techniques that will assist me in getting things done with less effort.

What is your take on the self-help literature? Should people invest in it?

I suggest trusting your intuition about what resources would be the best to utillize. But you need to know where you’re going first, and what you want to be experiencing, before you will have the ability to recognize the right information for you. Most every really good self-help book I ever bought and read was just from a hunch about it, while I browsed a good bookstore.

You are returning to Dubai after a gap of 20 years. What brings you back here? And why did it take you so long?

What brings me back? The invitation from a quality organization–Right Selection. Why so long? No one invited me before them.

What would you have to advise to the corporate sector that strives to get the best productivity from its employees?

Create an environment in which it is safe to make mistakes and to communicate with one another things that have their attention.

FREE GTD resources offered by David Allen Company

Do you advocate micro-management?

If you mean someone taking control of a situation that’s not their accountability, absolutely not. If you mean fixing something that no one else seems to see, sure. But then let anyone affected know what you did, and then correct the situation so you don’t have to come in like that again.

Most companies engage people in team-building games. Do you think that these help in improving productivity?

Anything that lowers the barriers of communication and increases a sense of trust with each other is going to help.

Off late, we have seen a lot of people becoming a fan of “multi tasking”. Does that kill productivity?

If you mean, keeping multiple projects going at once, it’s necessary to stay in touch appropriately with all of them. You can’t really multi-task–but you can rapidly switch your focus if you have good personal systems.

We know that the Chinese prefer to take a power nap while working hours. Any other unique ways to increase productivity that you might have come across?

Power naps are great! Anything that helps you relax, so you can appropriately focus when you need to, is great.

VIDEO: Here’s the video on The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen delivered at TEDx Claremont Colleges. It’s 22 minutes of inspiration for a “mind like water.”

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