“To have an infinite number of things to do, but nothing on one’s mind“.
This is the goal that distinguishes the Getting Things Done process.
There were two parts of David Allen‘s life that perhaps he brought together to create his methodology for ‘stress-free productivity’. He was a management consultant, and he practised martial arts.
Clear Mental Space
David talks about the ‘ready state’ of the martial artist. One of clear mental space, where we are dedicating 100% of attention to whatever is at hand. Undistracted and relaxed, we can do our most meaningful work. This is what martial artists call a mind like water and athletes call being in the zone. Here we respond appropriately to input, neither under- nor over-reacting.
There’s an interesting connection here with mindfulness study. That the mind gets very busy second guessing what you’re doing if it isn’t sure that what you’re doing is the best thing right now. The GTD method helps you gain that clarity.
The Right Lists
David uses lists – but the right lists. With the wrong lists, the mind notices that they don’t contain what we said they would. So the mind distrusts them, which leads to friction and then becoming numb to their content. David has figured out what the right lists are, so that the mind can trust them, and releases their contents from active memory. He has then gathered these lists into a workflow for capturing, organising, actioning and reviewing our do lists.
“Anything that does not belong where it is, the way it is, is an open loop, which will be pulling on your attention if it’s not appropriately managed.”David Allen. Getting Things Done. 2015 Kindle Edition. Page 13.
All of this helps us to let go of what we have decided not to do in this moment, and focus on what we have committed to doing right now.
We can achieve stress-free productivity even in our complex lives and create the conditions for creative flow.
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