In December I read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. I generally enjoyed the book and felt that learned a lot about personal management and organization. The author went to some trouble to present the principles and even techniques in such a way as to be timeless as technology and tools evolve.
There is one concept in particular that I feel has made a significant impact in my life that I would like to share with you today.
The author suggests that traditional stress is much more than a byproduct of having a lot to do. It is a byproduct of worrying that you will forget to do something. Therefore, a good management system in which you have absolute confidence is a significant factor in reducing stress.
Specifically, stress is often generated when we are constantly remembering everything we need to do. These “open loops” are constantly coming to mind because our mental system is also concerned that we may forget. If we have an effective system, that we believe in, where we can record/input every open loop as it comes to mind, then these things will stop coming to mind or at very least the anxiety that we associate with them will go away. The stress goes away because we know we won't forget because it has been recorded in our management system.
In the last several weeks since reading this book I have worked hard to make sure that every time I think of anything that I should do our need to do, I input it into my task list software. I use an internet based system that has a corresponding app for my phone which makes it ready to access and input anywhere.
Of course the idea of recording all of your thoughts isn't a new concept of personal management and leadership. However, it was only after hearing how this directly reduces stress and worry did it really sink in to me. The last few weeks I have experienced far less concern since I have confidence that I will not forget anything that needs doing.
Hope the idea can work for you too!