Interview with David Allen. The Natural Planning Model for Personal Finance.

Interview with David Allen: Podcast of The Financial Underground Radio Show

“If I asked you to stop planning, you’d plan how to do it.” David Allen

Have you mastered the art of stress-free productivity?

How about stress-free cash flow planning?

Many of us would answer “no” to both. Part of the problem is that we go about solving the “problem” of personal finance and cash flow management in a manner that is neither intuitive nor productive.

We tend to do it backwards. If you ever feel that way you really should listen to the podcast of our interview with David Allen (link at the top of this post), bestselling author of the book “Getting Things Done. The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”.

We take some time to talk about the natural planning model of problem solving.

It is, in essence, exactly what is sounds like. It is the way we naturally tackle the challenges of every day life. Our brain does this all the time, perhaps dozens of times a day. This is how we decide where to go to dinner, and what to do with our Saturday nights.

But, we often reverse the order when tackling major challenges or projects… to our own detriment.

Here is what the natural planning model looks like.

The Natural Planning Model vs. the Reactive Planning Model:

Natural planning looks like this.

Purpose. Why and with what standards.

Vision or Picture of what a win, or success, looks like

Close the Gap between the picture and the current reality.

Brainstorming in Two Phases.

What are all the potentially meaningful things that may be a factor?

Then, structure and order. sorting and prioritizing all of those things with an emphasis on next actions, the things you can do without waiting on anyone or anything.

Contrast the above with the reactionary or unnatural model, which is what we tend to do with any important problem or task, personal finance included.

The unnatural model is to get organized first.

“What’s most important?

What do we need to do?

Let’s get organized.

Let’s brainstorm.

Let’s establish a Vision or Picture.

Well how can you effectively answer what is most imporant if you don’t know “why” you are doing something or what a “win” looks like?

That is starting with the wrong question, in the wrong order.

When you try to tackle the “problem” of your personal finance in the wrong order it will quickly devolve into chaos. You have to start with a clear “why” and a clear picture of what a “win” is.

We’ll have plenty more on this in later posts, but if you want a guide to help you employ this method to your personal finances, get a free copy of your Cash Flow Map.


About Matt James

Matt James is a teacher and coach.


  1. Jim

    What is the link to “get a free copy of your Cash Flow Map.”? thanks

  2. Chris

    Don’t use DropBox for high volume downloads as DropBox has now disabled the public links to the recording and book. I suggest you use wordpress to stores these as part of the blog post.

  3. Thanks for providing this great information.I’ve searched all over for this information in. How about stress-free cash flow planning?

  4. this is a great financial topic especially with david allen

  5. Save money on the little things. When you go grocery shopping, look for the cheaper brands or buy certain items in bulk to save money. Avoid eating out if you can and think twice before you buy an item you might not really need. These small changes could save you a lot of money in the long term.

  6. Pingback: The Natural Planning Model for Personal Finance: Infographic « Cash Flow Smart. Live Rich

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