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5 steps to getting things done

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Here, in a nutshell, is David Allen’s famous five-step process for getting things under control, whether what you’re trying to accomplish is through your team, your division or your organization.

The first stage is to capture, which means identifying anything that’s not on cruise control. What’s bugging you? What’s incomplete? What’s likely to pop into your head at 3 a.m.? “Get it out of your head,” Allen says. Write it down.

The second step is to clarify. What’s the very next action you need to take? Organize financial data? Delegate?

Third is to organize the results. You have to park this stuff where you feel confident you’ll see it again at the right time—not have it crawl back into your head as an unresolved worry.

Fourth is to take inventory of the things you’ve defined, reflecting on their importance and prioritizing them.

The last step is to engage. This is where to put your full attention and resources now.

— Adapted from Getting Things Done, David Allen, Penguin.

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