Reduce Stress by Getting Things Done

Reduce Stress by Getting Things Done

According to productivity-guru David Allen in his book Getting Things Done, what stresses us out are all the “open loops” in our brains. These are those loose ends we always have—things we’ve been meaning to take care of, but haven’t—that take up valuable mental space and energy. To play with this notion, Allen suggests this experiment:

  1. Think about something that is currently on your mind. It could be a project you want to take on, a problem you’ve been meaning to solve, a task you need to complete, etc.

  2. Describe, in a single written sentence, what a successful resolution of this matter would look like. If it was complete, what would need to happen?

  3. Write down the next action that would move this matter forward (not necessarily complete it, just move it forward out of the holding pattern).

Now, ask yourself, how do you feel after taking two minutes to do this? Most people will say they feel more relaxed, focused and motivated. When you notice you are particularly frazzled, check and see if you have too many loose ends. Take a few minutes to write out the things that are on your mind, then ask what action will move each item forward.