“I wantto, Ineedto, Ireallyshould”onall
these different levels. We really need to
capture and achieve all of those things. We don”t
want to be walking around like Pigpen
need todoor shoulddoor wanttodo; we
no big deal.
GTD is one of those marvelous things
knows all of this stuff, basically. The
figureallofthisoutanddesignamethod-ology to work it all out.
culture and the unconscious work together to build
a psyche—what we do, why we do it, why we don’t
achieve what we could. It’s been a string of books and
amazing people and chance encounters and inspiration. It’s all a part of where I am today.
Working with Lockheed many
years ago was a critical turning
point for you, the opportunity you
had to test this methodology in a
in my own consulting practice for many
years, but it was the opportunity—not
really a planned event—to take it to
anotherlevel.Igottoworkwithman-agers and executives. I was invited in
and I took all of my material and
figured out how to, in two days, tell them
the best information I knew about how to get
stuff done and relieve their stress.
I put it all in an educational format. It was a bit
before I did it, in the same way, after 20 years of
doing the seminars, I wasn”t sure I could put it all in
Could I convey the information in a valuable way?
Getting Things Done is peppered
with these beautiful and inspiring
quotes from major thinkers, major
texts—philosophical, spiritual, business.
I”m curious about your influences
I was reading Zen and Alan Watts and
startedwayback.Iwasinterestedinphi-losophy and law. I started studying
philosophy, butfoundthatitgotkindof wound
philosophers themselves and why they
thought the way they thought, and that
That got me intrigued by these
paradigms and belief systems, how the
The book was originally published seven
years ago, but it feels more relevant today than
ever. It’s also selling better today than it did
then. Why do you think that is?
In the larger sense, the book is designed for anyone who can’t finish what they need to as soon as
they think of it. All of us have more than one thing
to keep track of. Why this book is becoming more
and more meaningful, and why it’s now a must-have
instead of a nice-to-have, is because the world is that
much faster than it ever was. There’s nothing new
except how frequently everything is new.
We live in such a virtual world, such a global
world, so immediate and always becoming more so,
that it’s increasingly difficult to stay on top of our
tasks. We’ve gotten really good at absorbing more
and more, but not so good at dropping off the things
we do not need to carry around with us everywhere
we go. It’s triage most of the time. It’s harder and
harder to keep track of, manage and renegotiate all
your agreements with yourself, universally speaking.
I’ve sold a million copies. I have 5.999 billion to go.
In the larger scope, we’ve only just begun.
You’ve worked with most of the major corpo-
rations in the world. I’m guessing this has been
an amazing journey for you. Tell me about what
you learn working with these big companies.
The biggest revelation is that everybody is basically the same. There is virtually no difference
between any company, corporation, Boy Scout troop,
American Express, Google or any individual. The
best news about my whole career is it’s a mark of my
laziness: I don’t have to change, really, one thing I say,
whether I’m talking to one of the biggest corporations in the world or a small office in the middle of
the country. Everybody’s got the same issues.
I’ll dress up the language, tailor it to who I’m
working with, but the truth is, once the office door is
closed, I’m dealing with people—and we all have the
same issues. We’re all in this together. We all have
stuff in our heads that we need to get out, and we all
feel better when we do. We all have decisions to make,
and we all feel better when we do. We all need to be
more productive, and we feel better when we are.
That’s true for chief executives, and it’s true for
That’s the biggest aha of my career. The people
who don’t have what I offer, they either say they don’t