Barak Obama on Getting Things Done

The New York Times transcribed a bit of conversation between Obama and the Tory Leader David Cameron on Obama’s recent trip to Europe.

I love to eavesdrop on accomplished people.

Mr. Cameron: You should be on the beach. You need a break. Well, you need to be able to keep your head together.

Mr. Obama: You’ve got to refresh yourself.

Mr. Cameron: Do you have a break at all?

Mr. Obama: I have not. I am going to take a week in August. But I agree with you that somebody, somebody who had worked in the White House who — not Clinton himself, but somebody who had been close to the process — said that should we be successful, that actually the most important thing you need to do is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you’re doing is thinking. And the biggest mistake that a lot of these folks make is just feeling as if you have to be

Mr. Cameron: These guys just chalk your diary up.

Mr. Obama: Right. … In 15 minute increments and …

Mr. Cameron: We call it the dentist waiting room. You have to scrap that because you’ve got to have time.

Mr. Obama: And, well, and you start making mistakes or you lose the big picture. Or you lose a sense of, I think you lose a feel …

Mr. Cameron: Your feeling. And that is exactly what politics is all about. The judgment you bring to make decisions.

To do great things, don’t just work hard. Give yourself the luxury of time alone, just you and your notebook.

h/t 43 folders

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17 Responses to Barak Obama on Getting Things Done

  1. Thomas says:

    Link, please.

  2. Mike says:

    Fixed. Thanks Thomas.

  3. Matt Wedel says:

    Time alone with your notebook is also a way to gauge how dependent you are on your distractions. From here:

    “The key to wasting time is distraction. Without distractions it’s too obvious to your brain that you’re not doing anything with it, and you start to feel uncomfortable. If you want to measure how dependent you’ve become on distractions, try this experiment: set aside a chunk of time on a weekend and sit alone and think. You can have a notebook to write your thoughts down in, but nothing else: no friends, TV, music, phone, IM, email, Web, games, books, newspapers, or magazines. Within an hour most people will feel a strong craving for distraction.”

  4. Matt Wedel says:

    Another relevant thought just went through my head. An older friend of mine is retired Army colonel who used to work at the Pentagon. One day his boss there told him, “I see you in here first thing in the morning, and last thing in the evening, and every time I see you in between, you’re working.” My friend took this as a compliment. His boss went on, “You’re here to solve problems, and you can’t do that if you never stop and think. From now on, when I walk by your office, I want to see you staring out the window at least part of the time.”

    I’d like to have met that man; that is a thought that not many would have had, and fewer would have voiced.

  5. Mike says:

    Matt’s just given me the working title for my autobiography: Another relevant thought just went through my head.

  6. Susan says:

    I would’ve liked to have heard Obama’s full sentences instead of having a moderator finish them for him. so much for thought!

  7. Barack Obama on Getting Things Done…

    This is interesting – The Getting Things Done in Academia blog has a great post up right now featuring a fascinating segment of a conversation between Obama and the Tory leader David Cameron.

    Its an old post, but I figured I would just share it wit…

  8. Bush on the other hand, now that was a president that perhaps gave himself a bit TOO much time off.

  9. ola says:

    go east go west obama is z best wooooooooooooooooooow

  10. […] about Barack Obama at the moment. I guess being president elect will have that effect on you. GTD In Academia picked up on a very interesting New York Times piece covering an overheard conversation between […]

  11. fouzul says:

    east to west obama is the best .very very congracts

  12. […] Things Done in Academia blog has a great post up right now featuring a fascinating segment of a conversation between Obama and Torry Tory leader David Cameron of the […]

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  15. […] 9:31 pm – If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting! Barack Obama on Getting Things Done Show Some […]

  16. […] that accidentally took place in front of an open microphone. Their talk provided a major league window into the difficulties politicians face in finding time to think critically about the things that […]

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