Stress Free Productivity and Getting Things Done

Monday, November 19, 2018

Do you feel stressed or overworked? Well, The GTD system can help you get through an overwhelming amount of tasks in a relaxed way, thus, keeping you stress free.

When we feel stressed, we let the events control us, and thus, we can’t react properly. So, what we need is clarity about our pending tasks and a sense of control. 

And this is the aim of GTD – Getting Things Done – method. Developed by David Allen, this method tells you how to prioritize your day using various time management techniques. He is an American writer focused on self-management and productivity techniques.

His company provides Getting Things Done training to the executives, and in his book, David talks about how you can be productive in a stressful situation. The book tells you how to organize your day and keep your projects moving forward with a simple system of managed lists. 

Listen to the summary at Blinkist or listen to the book at Audible.

Don’t try to remember!

Don't try to remember everything you have to do; it will just accumulate your stress levels.
Don't try to remember everything you have to do; it will just accumulate your stress levels.

On an average workday, there’s a lot to do, and new tasks keep coming in. 

You’re concentrating on writing an email to a colleague, and new email notification of electricity bill drops in. In such a situation, your mind is at crossroads. You want to check and pay the bill right away; else you risk forgetting it. Another thing you may prefer is to get the email written and remember to pay the bill later.

But trying to remember every unfinished task can affect your ability to concentrate on the ongoing work. Here, you can implement the Getting Things Done strategy for a stress free workflow. The GTD method is one of the best strategies for managing stress in the workplace.

Read more: Achieve More With Just the Essentials

It’s made up of five steps which start with capturing all your thoughts and putting them on a paper or a digital medium. Then, clarify, organize and review their importance. Depending on the priority, next, you should pick a task to complete. Time to look at this process that can help in efficient time management.

Note down your tasks and ideas

Taking notes of your plans and ideas will make you more focused.
Taking notes of your plans and ideas will make you more focused.

To get started with GTD strategy, and stress less in the future, set up the tools required. You need to prepare a filing system to hold your notes, tickets, documents, pens, clips and other bare essentials. 

And you also require a calendar and a wastepaper basket. Moreover, if you travel a lot, opt for a digital system too, in your portable device.

Now, you’re ready to note down anything and everything that may be useful afterward – quotes, business ideas or payment reminders. Don’t think that what should go in the list and what shouldn’t. If you feel that it’s important, note it down.

Learn more about the GTD Method!

If someone sent you a ticket of an event, note it down as a reminder along with the ticket clipped to your calendar. You can also make a digital reminder and put your ticket in a pre-defined place in your filing system. Keep your tools minimal and straightforward, yet comprehensive enough to hold every information you need.

Plan your projects

Plan out your projects wisely to successfully get things done!
Plan out your projects wisely to successfully get things done!

Getting started with the system and arranging the things for quick access will take some time. But once you start collecting your ideas, the system will start getting unorganized. So, you also need periodic cleaning to keep things stress free.

Once in a week, check those items and see if any needs immediate attention. If not, there can be three possibilities – it’s no longer needed, it may be necessary in the future, or you may require it in a few days. 

And if the item needs you to take action, check if you can complete it in two minutes, something like calling someone. If it would take longer, or more people, defer it for later. Clear off the small tasks so that you can concentrate on the big projects.

Read more: Find Your Flow and Focus

Now that you have different categories organize the things into lists. If the items are more like a project – like a plan a birthday party – put them in the Projects list. Also, note a clear action to take next, for each project. 

Planning a birthday party, for example, involves many steps. Your next move can be, say, Call Arthur for cake. Having well-defined actions is crucial for stress free completion of projects.

Review the situation

Review your list regularly to keep you moving forward more effectively.
Review your list regularly to keep you moving forward more effectively.

It may look a lot of work, but once you have the reason for undertaking a task and the outcome you want, the planning is a kid’s play. And when you start getting the hang of it, the planning will happen naturally. Planning and sticking to the plan is how to reduce stress naturally.

But there also are other things to take into consideration to have a stress free workflow. There may be other people involved to help you in the completion of the project, whose input you will need from time to time. 

Keep a “waiting for” lists for such situations along with the deadlines. And there also can be some work which you would like to do in your free times, like climbing Everest. Put those tasks in the “someday” list.

And review your work progress every week. The GTD strategy aims to get you moving forward, and it’s only possible only if you monitor the progress. Clear away all those notes, which no longer seem relevant and let your brain find it what it needs, quickly. 

And keep those lists synced across workspaces (and devices). You never know when you get extra time which you may use up doing something productive and stress free.

Here’s the five-step checklist for Getting Things Done –

  • Collect your ideas in external medium(s).
  • Clarify the objective of each item.
  • Organize and categorise those items in lists.
  • Review them at fixed intervals.
  • Prioritize and start doing them, one at a time.

Follow the GTD strategy and see yourself more productive than ever, and that too without taking any stress. The initial days could be hard on you, but remember, it works. Stress free productivity is within your reach for sure!

Abhijeet Kumar a freelance content writer for aSabbatical.com
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.