25 David Allen Quotes About Getting Things Done Today

These David Allen quotes will help you be the most productive you can be.

David Allen is an American productivity consultant and author.

However, those are not his only professions.

He once claimed to have had 35 careers before 35.

David has written several books, the first of which was Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, back in 2001 (he published a revised version in 2015).

He followed that up with Ready For Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life, and Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life.

David Allen may have had his fair share of struggles and hardships (like a heroin addiction and failed relationships), but his principles have helped many people get things done!

Keep reading for some more time management tips!

Check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily inspiration. 

Our inspirational quotes category page has all of our motivational quotes for all the different areas of life.

David Allen quotes to live by

1. “The way out is through.” – David Allen

David Allen Quotes to help you find your way

Everyday Application: Lost in forest? Trapped in a fire? Stuck in a loveless relationship? These might all be examples of how sometimes the only way out of a situation is to walk right through it. That may not seem like a comfortable choice while the flames rage around you, but if your only way out is make a run for the window through the wall of flames…you will find the strength to do it. 

2. “Space is what we are after. Room.” – David Allen

David Allen Quotes about space

Everyday Application: We all need a little space. A little room to breathe and think. This space between our emotions and our actions can help us process the best way to proceed.

3. “Chaos is in the world.  Not in your head.” – David Allen

David Allen Quotes about chaos

Everyday Application: Make sure that your headspace is as calm as possible. You can achieve this by meditation, self-care, and positive affirmations. You can not control what happens in the world, but you can control your reactions and the amount of chaos you allow in your head.

4. “In a crisis you are focused on a very specific outcome.” – David Allen

David Allen Quotes about crisis

Everyday Application: When a crisis is happening a “here and now” approach is often the most helpful. It allows us to mitigate what we can and ensure the least amount of damage as possible. For example, your “specific outcome” might be to survive, those stakes are high, and you will do what you need to in order to achieve that outcome.

5. “When you are in a crisis there is a kind-of peace that shows up there.” – David Allen

David Allen Quotes bout tough times

Everyday Application: Weighing our actions against possible outcomes, the fear of failing, or even succeeding, can rob you of your peace. When there is a crisis, the goal is explicitly clear, and you will put your fears and doubt aside to make sure you achieve it. In some weird, this gives us peace of mind.

David Allen quotes about work

6. “A to-do list is a list of uncompleted things.” – David Allen

David Allen Quotes about to do lists

Everyday Application: A to-do list can be a helpful organizational tool. It can help you stay focused, and ensure that you complete the most important things. You likely won’t ever finish everything on your to-do lists…but fear not! You can just write whatever you didn’t get to on tomorrow’s list! 

7. “Einstein had 24 hours. So did Mother Teresa. So did Bach.” – David Allen

David Allen Quotes to motivate

Everyday Application: The beauty of this statement is that SO DO YOU! If Einstein, Mother Teresa, and Bach can achieve everything they did with only 24 hours in a day, so can you! Do you hear yourself saying that “you don’t have time.” Evaluate how you are spending your time and make sure you put your time to moving the needle of success (whatever that looks like for you) in the right direction! 

8. “Multi-tasking is driving home and wondering who drove.” – David Allen

David Allen Quotes about multitasking

Everyday Application: Multi-tasking is a thief when it comes to living in the moment. You might feel more productive, but is everything actually getting the attention it deserves? When you do something, devote your energy to it and do your best! Don’t split the focus.

9. “A lot of stuff gets done that is not in a hurry.” – David Allen

wise David Allen Quotes

10. “Getting things done is not about getting things done.” – David Allen

David Allen Quotes about getting things done

David Allen quotes about getting things done

11. “If you had just two more hours what would you fill it with?  Probably more stickiness like email.” – David Allen

Everyday Application: Instead of wishing you had more time to do mundane tasks that don’t move you forward in life, learn to use your time better. Finish the tasks you start, eliminate distractions, automate the things you can, and focus on what matters! 

12.  “Appropriate engagement is the key.  Are you appropriately engaged with your staff, health, spiritual life, etc?” – David Allen

Everyday Application: Staying engaged means being present in the moment. It means having some commitment, investment in the outcome, and a desire to see something through. Are you engaged with the people around you? Are you engaged with the progress you need make on your goals?

13. “There is an inverse relationship about what is on your mind and getting it done.” – David Allen

14. “Everyone of you today are not getting a lot of things done because you are sitting right here.” – David Allen

15. “If it’s on your mind, get it out of your mind.  Write it down…Then takes what’s on your mind and get things done.” – David Allen

David Allen quotes time management and tasks

16. “You can only feel good about what you’re not doing when you know what it is.” – David Allen

17. “Perspective and control are the two ingredients to time management.” – David Allen

18. “Martial arts people fight four people at a time by fighting one at a time.” – David Allen

19. “How much does it take to have a good idea? Zero. You don’t need time. You need room in your head.” – David Allen

20. “You want things to be direction correct. Not perfect. You want to be able to steer as you going along.” – David Allen

David Allen quotes about perspective and freedom

21. “Perspective and no control is a mad scientist.” – David Allen

22. “No perspective and no control was a micro-manager.” – David Allen

23. “You are most productive when you have freedom to make a mess.” – David Allen

24. “The freedom to make a mess starts when you are clean enough to make a mess.” – David Allen

25. “Water doesn’t get mad at you because you destroyed its calm.  It has appropriate engagement.” – David Allen

If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of engagement quotes about the power of commitment and love.

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What are the biggest lessons we can learn from David Allen

Well, one of the biggest lessons we can learn from David Allen is, if you do not like your career or job, then change it!

There are a bunch of skills, trades, or jobs you can do (even if you have to learn how first)!

Find the one you like the most, but don’t stick with things you hate.

Another lesson is to relieve stress as much as possible.

The effects of stress are physical and mental.

Whether, you use David Allen’s external brain method, or a different one, just remember it is important to reduce stress wherever you can.

Finally, he reminds us of the importance of organization and writing things down.

These are some amazing tips if you are trying to reduce stress and get things done!

What is your favorite David Allen quote or lesson?

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