Interview with David Allen on productivity

We’re excited to bring you an exclusive interview with David Allen on productivity. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know who he is. Best known as the creator of “Getting Things Done“, David Allen is a productivity consultant  - or, if you ask us, a productivity guru.

Check out the video interview below, or continue to read what David Allen shared.

David Allen on productivity

David Allen (Source)

Hello, David! What did you write about productivity that was missing from the other books?

Most of all the other books I’ve read have very good things in them. They have a different perspective – and from different perspectives you get different ideas.

I think my perspectives are unique in some sense, because what I did was uncover one of the basic foundational principles at play when things really work – what are you doing that causes things to work.

We’ve all had better days than others, right? What makes the difference between one and the other? And I just uncovered what those were and made those principles explicit. So, once a principle goes from implicit to explicit, you can do it better and more elegantly.

For instance, a good example – most everybody has at some point felt overwhelmed or confused, then sat down, made a list and felt better. More in control and more focused. Well if you reverse engineered how that happened – nothing changed in your world, except how you engaged in your world changed.

If you figure out that “Oh, the way I’ve now engaged with my world changed by simply writing things down – it gave me more sense of control, more focus, more space in my head,” you’ll never keep anything in your head for the rest of your life. And I don’t! Your head’s a terrible office. So, I just uncovered that, and a lot of people have now copied it…

It took me 25 years to realize nobody else seemed to have come up with that the same way that I did. And that’s when I decided to write the first edition of “Getting Things Done”.

So yes – those kind of principles: that you do not have to go change who you are as a human being to be a lot more effective. But oftentimes there’s decisions you have to make and ways to think about things that produce a more effective result. That reduce the barrier of entry for you to get engaged in your world to get things done – and frankly, to be able to just relax.

getting things doneI just discovered them what those were because I needed them for myself, and it turned out that all those principles work for everybody else… So that just became part of the methodology.

I think another difference is that the Getting Things Done (GTD) system starts with where you are and not where you should be. Most people’s attention is on is not fulfilling their purpose on the planet, it’s the cat food they need and the babysitter that they need to change, and the holiday they are about to go on, the tyres on the car that they need to get… And that’s where people’s attention is. If that’s not under control, then don’t try to think about bigger stuff.

So, where most people are, actually, is down in the mundane aspects of their life. And GTD gives you a very effective methodology to deal with that. Not because that’s the most important stuff – it’s almost because those are not the most important things.

But if you don’t handle the unimportant things that you still have to do well, they’ll take up much more space than they ought to. The GTD methodology makes it easier to do that. I don’t think anybody else approached it from that way, because in a way, it’s sort of counter-intuitive.

People who work at startups often need to execute a lot of different tasks, so there’s a big context switch that can feel so unproductive… So is the solution to write down what you were just doing before the context switch?

the gtd methodology

Yeah! Well, you need a placeholder for it. If you don’t put a placeholder for that thing that’s not complete yet, and turn around to do something else, there’s a part of your pshyce still wrapped around that. And so, you’re not giving your full attention to the new thing.

Your psyche will try to multitask, but it can’t do it. That’s why it feels so frustrating and burns you out. If I write a note about that and drop it in a place that I know I’m going to get back to, my brain frees up and I can rapidly context switch.

Look at a martial artist who fights four people – they don’t fight four people at once, it’s one at a time. And each one is left nice and clean. There’s no residue from one to the next.

And indeed, there are times when you really do need to give yourself a longer timeframe to think more effectively about something, not switching those contexts. But it makes a huge difference when you have a really trusted personal system, to be able to keep placeholders for all those things that are not complete.

So, it’s about giving a pen and paper to our development team, and just let them write down the tasks like this?

Yeah, pen and paper and a tray that they throw the stuff into. And the process of emptying out that tray sooner or later, so that they’re appropriately engaged with that commitment still.

Sometimes, productivity is hindered by noise from the environment – so it is not under our control. How does your system help increase productivity between the person and the team?

First of all, there are no interruptions – there are only mismanaged inputs. You either shouldn’t get the input, so stop it – or if you should because it’s some commitment that you have, then you need to manage it well.

See, what GTD does is it actually improves every one of your intersections. The more out of control they are – the more in control you should be. So you don’t catch their virus.

Productivity simply means producing desired results or experiences. If you go to a party to have fun and you don’t have fun – it’s an unproductive party!

Most people think productivity has to do with business or busy-ness…  but no – productivity just means producing what you say you’re going to produce or want to produce.

productivity

What are the main obstacles for people becoming productive?

I think mostly it’s people’s addiction to stress. People are willing to tolerate having 3,000 unprocessed emails in their inbox. Why don’t you taste what it’s like to have nothing on your mind? That stuff just feels so uncomfortable.

But if you’re so used to it, you’re not motivated to do anything differently. You’re not motivated to do the things that actually produce a higher state of productivity.

“Life is OK.” – that’s the biggest problem, most people are not in big enough pain to change. And that’s why the first people to adopt my methodology graduated rapidly professionally and now they’re having to deal with whole new levels of accountability and detail. Their systems just crapped out, and it’s like “Oh my god, I need to get back to the control and focus that I experienced earlier on. Help!”

So it’s that sense of being out of control and not having the focus that they’re used to usually makes people the most interested in getting involved with this work.

But we’re also teaching kids this stuff – because they get it right away! It’s like “Oh, sure, that’s what you do!” That’s our big vision – let’s get it to the kids and into the educational system, so we don’t have to change a bunch of cranky adults.

Fleep is a messenger for your teams and projects.

Introducing Fleep Teams!

Fleep Teams

We have taken another step to simplifying your communication with your teams and project contributors – today, we’re introducing Fleep Teams to the public!

What are Teams in Fleep? 

Fleep Teams are groups of Fleep and/or email users. Fleep teams make it easier for you to manage and organize the conversations you have with your teams – be it your internal team, your project team that includes external partners and clients, your book club, or all of them!

Fleep Teams

What happens when you create a Fleep team?

Fireworks! Once you have created a Fleep team, you can add it to conversations – and all team members will then be able to see and access those conversations. These conversations become the team’s conversations – but don’t fret, you can also add individual people from outside the team into the conversation one by one, if you wish.

The best part? If someone new joins your organization, all you need to do is add them to the Fleep team, and they will automatically be added to all of the team’s conversations. Should someone leave your organization, removing them from the Fleep team will also remove them from all team conversations.

By default, all team conversations are organized under the team’s label in your list of conversations, and they are not shown under your Recent conversations. You can change and customize all of this in the Manage labels view, if you wish.

Fleep TeamsWhat if I already have a system in place with my team’s conversations in Fleep?

That’s cool too! We’re not trying to mess up your system. But there’s probably someone in your team who’s been responsible for adding new team members to team conversations or removing the ones who have left. They will probably appreciate having a Fleep team set up…

Creating a Fleep team and adding existing conversations to the team will help ensure that all team members indeed are in all the chats they need to be a part of. And while you’re at it, you can also clean up all team conversations with conversation bulk actions – by removing people from conversations they do not need to be a part of. 

Nice! Anything else I should know?
  • If you’re a member of a Fleep team, you will be automatically added to all of the team’s conversations.
  • You cannot leave a team’s conversation without leaving the team. If the conversation is not too relevant for you, muting the conversation may be a good idea.
  • All team members can add and remove team members, as well as add and remove team conversations. Because Fleep is democratic like that. And most teams have found that the self-organizing nature works well, lowering administrative overhead. (For the teams that need admin functionalities: these are coming soon.)
  • You can create and belong to as many teams as you wish. So, you can have your internal team, your Project X team, your Project Y team… You get the point.
  • The maximum number of members in a team is 200.
FAQ:

How do Fleep Teams work?
Can I belong to several Fleep teams?
Can I add external people to my team conversations?
How can I leave a team conversation?
Can Fleep teams have administrators?
Can I leave a team conversation without leaving the team?

Have any questions or feedback for us? Contact us at support@fleep.io. Let’s also stay in touch through our social media channels - TwitterFacebookLinkedInInstagram.

Fleep: Q2 review and plans for Q3

The first half of 2016 is over – which means it’s time for our quarterly review blog post. Let’s take a look at what got done in Q2, and what we have planned for Q3.

Fleep q2

We had a furry friend visit us at our Q3 planning meeting :)

First, a review of what got done in Q2:

  • Fleep TeamsFleep Teams - Fleep Teams was our biggest project for Q2. This feature makes Fleep even easier to use for team conversations, allowing you to create and belong to several teams. Read all about it in this blog post.
  • Conversations bulk actions - this is a powerful feature that lets you quickly apply conversation actions to multiple conversations at a time: delete, archive, mark read, add and remove members.
  • Invite people – we added a button that you can use to invite your friend or colleagues to try out Fleep. Find it on the left pane – or if you’ve disabled it, you can always find it in the Account menu popup.
  • Sign in with Microsoft - we’ve supported sign in with Google for a long while already, and now you can also sign in to Fleep with your Microsoft account.
  • Several improvements to UX – new conversation flow rehaul, ability to create tasks and pins from taskboard/pinboard respectively.

So, what’s next? Here’s what we have planned for Q3:

  • fleep email integrationEmail list behavior - we’re putting the finishing touches on this one. It’s the option to have Fleep conversations acting as email lists for email participants, using the conversation email address as the sender. This will significantly improve the experience of big group conversations that include email participants.
  • Custom conversation email address – this feature will let you edit the conversation email address (that currently looks something like conv.3ak374r9djzioqoj@fleep.io), making it easier to remember and share. Also, it’ll go really well with the email list behavior described above.
  • Multiple VM’s support - we’re continuing work on scaling our server infrastructure to better serve increasing server load.
  • Managed teams and managed conversations – while all of Fleep is pretty democratic, some companies need admin controls over teams and conversations. So, we are developing what we call managed teams and managed conversations that will allow for administrative control.

Hopefully you like the direction we’re going in! Should you have any feedback or questions for us – don’t hesitate to reach out to us at support@fleep.io. Let’s also stay in touch via social media: TwitterFacebookLinkedInInstagram.

How to Integrate Your Apps And Stop Wasting Time on Busywork

Stop me if this sounds familiar: you’ve just received an important email (from a client, perhaps) with an attachment. First, you download the attachment, assess it, then load up your cloud storage software and transfer it over. What follows is a string of opening various apps to update a status, attach a file or send a notification.

Integrate Your Apps And Stop Wasting Time on BusyworkWhat if you could cut out all of those tasks?

With handy applications like Zapier and IFTTT, you can integrate your apps and become more productive stop wasting time on busywork… Instead of manually uploading email attachments or changing a customer’s status in your CRM, have your apps do it automatically when the time is right.

Whilst it may sound like something out of Terminator, integrating your apps can save you untold hours which could be better spent on more important tasks.

Not only this, but you can even integrate other apps with Fleep to better centralize your team’s communication. You can easily create group chat for teams with built-in potential for to-do lists, shared files and important notes, and also have automatically shipped tomorrow’s forecast into Fleep, changes to Trello cards, payment notifications or anything else you can imagine by integrating this bad boy with Zapier or IFTTT.

Zapier

Zapier

As almost anyone who’s seen the Process Street blog in the last few months can attest — we love Zapier. Frankly, to us, business process automation is the best thing since sliced bread. However, even I will hold my hands up and say that it’s not necessarily the easiest app to wrap your head around.

Essentially, Zapier acts as a platform through which over 500 different apps can connect, code-free. Think of it as a plug adapter which allows you to connect to any wall socket in the world – it translates the information for you so that you don’t have to touch the wires. All you need to do is choose the “Trigger” and “Action” for your desired process, or “Zap”.

The problem with Zapier is that there is a huge difference between making a basic Zap and realizing just what this incredibly powerful platform is capable of. For example, you could link your Gmail to save all email attachments sent to you into Dropbox. Alternatively, you could insert a filter into the middle of a process to send specific attachments to their own folder (let’s say, “Holiday Photos”).

Integrate Your Apps And Stop Wasting Time on Busywork Zapier takes this idea of complete automation even further with their Multi-Step Zap feature. Whilst previously a Zap was limited to one Trigger and one Action, now you can add as many Actions as you wish. Again, this can be hard to visualise if you aren’t already familiar with Zapier, so let’s use an example we all know; Fleep.

Currently, Fleep integrates with Zapier as an Action, meaning that you can send a message in Fleep when your chosen Trigger is detected. At a basic level, this means that you could send a message in Fleep with the details of a Tweet in which you were mentioned. Why settle for that though?

Creativity is your only limit with Zapier. So, instead of just sending a Tweet notification, why not automatically create an invoice from a Paypal sale, save it into the correct folder in your cloud storage, email the customer to say that payment was received and then receive a Fleep message with a link to the invoice, all without lifting a finger?

IFTTT
IFTTT

IFTTT is like Zapier’s (slightly less powerful) little brother. That’s not to say that it isn’t a fantastic app, but instead that it focuses on simplicity, usability, mobility and solo use, rather than a business-wide approach.

First up, IFTTT focuses on a much more basic concept; “if this, then that”. As such, naturally, you can only integrate two apps with each other at a time. However, there are an (almost) infinite number of these integration “recipes” which have been created and shared by users, free to access and set up with only a click.

Integrate Your Apps And Stop Wasting Time on BusyworkThis puts IFTTT head and shoulders above Zapier for instant usability. If you want to carry out some basic integrations and don’t want to learn an entirely new app to do so, this is most definitely the best way to go about it. Be warned though; IFTTT does not share the same number or breadth of apps which Zapier does.

So, take your pick; either or both of these apps can be used to automate or combine countless others which you’re currently wasting time with. Whether you’re looking to boost your productivity by cutting a chunk out of your to-do list or you’re looking to make your employee onboarding as slick as possible by centralizing your communication effectively, consider using Zapier or IFTTT to take the load off your shoulders.

Go ahead and boost your productivity! Save those hours for tasks that you actually need to interact with; after all, it’s better to work with your data flow than be chained to it.

ben-headshot
This is a guest blog post written by Benjamin Brandall. He is the head of content marketing at Process Street, and writes at benjbrandall.com.

 

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