Another upcoming new year means another new year’s resolution. As a result, perhaps this year’s resolution should remain as simple as getting more things done. Adopt and embrace the GTD methodology. It becomes one simple and brilliant way to make this new year’s resolution something that actually sticks.
Imagine the first Monday morning of many in the new year. Employees sit behind the desk, nursing a cup of coffee while trying to shake off the NYE celebration. They take one glance at the task list for the week. And an acute sense of defeat sets in.
The list is overwhelming and unwieldy with thousands of to-dos and no end in sight. Feeling unmotivated and already drained, nothing matters more than making it to Friday in one piece.
This is a common sensation.
What Causes Stress?
Check data from American Institute of Stress. It says 46% of all stress is caused by workload. Meanwhile, approximately 70% of employees feel they are overloaded with work. This comes from an Employee Engagement report by Tiny Pulse. Data shows more than 70% of workers feel they don’t have adequate time in their workweek to get their work done.
A major stress trigger for that stress is the very thought of incomplete tasks or what’s commonly known as the Zeigarnik Effect. Psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik theorized that unfinished tasks incite a “psychic tension” within people. While this tension can serve as an impetus for getting tasks accomplished, it can also cause much discomfort because the tension will not be alleviated until the task is done.
A natural reaction to this tension is to create a list to get organized and be in a better position to eliminate the tension. The problem with list-making is that we tend to write tasks as they enter our head, not necessarily in order of priority. Despite knowing what tasks are most important, we are wired to consider the top listed tasks as the most important. This obviously does nothing to relieve the stress.
However, there is indeed a way to de-stress a to-do list and, in turn, de-stress workload-related tension. It begins with GTD Methodology.
The Getting Things Done Method
Check out productivity consultant David Allen’s 2001 book, Getting Things Done. Allen introduces a five-step method of applying order for a stress-free work life.
First capture or collect all tasks in one place. Second clarify everything that has been captured. To do this, determining whether or not action is needed. Take items that aren’t actionable and discard them. Or file or incubate them. Take items that are actionable and do them now. Consider assigning them to another person or deferring them.
The third step is to organize and create reminders on lists in your organizational system. Step four urges you to review your list to bring yourself current, make updates and clear your head. Finally, step five is to simply move through the aforementioned steps with confidence.
That confidence comes from having already addressed that overwhelming feeling that comes with looking at an amorphous blob of pressing tasks. Simply taking the time to make sense of what must be done releases a flood of creative energy to get those meaningful things done without sweating the small stuff.
This amazing feeling of confidence in getting goals accomplished has proven to be quite popular—which is why so many people swear by the GTD method. However, using this methodology can take time to master. What most people initially struggle with is getting in the habit of applying the method. People also find it tricky to nail down the right productivity system that can work for them. Luckily there are several tools available that make adopting the GTD method easy.
Great GTD Tools to Use at Work
The following three tools can help tremendously in applying the GTD method to your work life.
For Capturing: Freemind is a free mind-mapping application that helps structure and prioritize ideas or tasks. Its click-and-drag interface supports easy branching from a central topic and speedy editing.
For Clarifying: The Quire task management app helps organize tasks into goals and supports collaboration and communication in achieving those goals. Key features include the Kanban board which helps focus and execute immediate tasks and the Peekaboo folder which tucks away postponed tasks until you’re ready to handle them.
For Creating Reminders: Google Calendar allows users to create personal and public calendars for free. Accessible from any device connected to the web, the application is great place to schedule and share appointments, events, and task reminders. You can also program your calendar to forward event and task reminders via text message.
Look Forward, or At least Appreciate, Mondays Again
Face it. Even in the new year, Mondays continue to be an issue. Task lists keep growing. If not, your business stops needing employees. However, you need not worry about an ever-expanding task list. When you take the time to learn and apply the GTD methodology. And use tools that support this approach. Nip the Zeigarnik Effect right in the bud.
You know the cause of your Monday morning stress. And you possess the knowledge and tools to combat it. So your new year’s resolution to get more things done becomes a much more plausible reality.
Get ready for the new year. Make your stress levels low and your productivity high. And get things done.
GTD is an amazing method but it also works if you know what you want to get out of it and to set only a few tasks per day.