Priorities are constantly shifting – especially in the workplace. Abrupt changes in plans and the fast-paced work environment can leave employees feeling overwhelmed by the pressing need to work quicker, produce more and still deliver the highest quality of content. When deviations arise and to-do lists stack up, it is natural for employees to become stressed. However, stress is a variant, it is not an inevitable consequence of productivity.
In his award-winning book, “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,” David Allen concludes that productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Throughout the course of the book, Allen discusses powerful methods and ways of approaching professional and personal tasks that reduce stress and lead to greater amounts of productivity.
Allen’s core belief is that when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized, we have a greater capacity to achieve results and unleash creative potential, with minimal stress. This is a core belief we should all subscribe to, both in and out of the workplace.
Think about, for example, how you feel when your house is in order. When the dishes are clean, the laundry is put away and the cushions on the couch are straightened, home feels more comfortable. You have space to entertain, and the lack of clutter enables you to truly relax. The same goes for the workplace.
Before you can move into a stage of successful production, you have to provide a space that feels clutter-free. The foundation of productivity at work is preserving the time, space and tools necessary to complete your tasks.
After setting up the right physical space for work, break things down into manageable steps. Essentially, Allen’s approach to bring order to chaos can be summarized in five key steps:
1. Capture – Collect and lay out all the things that are vying for your time and attention. List all priorities in once place that can be easily referenced.
2. Clarify – Process what action will be required of you and if it is attainable. Define the purpose and goal for each project. Either “do it, delegate it, defer it, or drop it.”
3. Organize – Plan and map out which actions you need to take. Create reminders, group alike items and map out the time and resources it will take to do each item on your list.
4. Reflect – Consistently review and updates your action-item lists. Assess what working styles are going well for you and what methods are not working.
5. Engage- Put things into action. Be confident about your capabilities, complete what you can and let go of any items you cannot complete.
As priorities shift and multiply, picking up the pace without wearing yourself out can be tricky. However, following these simple steps could redefine the way you approach life and work. When your work is organized and you’re thinking clearly, a high degree of performance can be attained without a high degree of stress.
Allen’s methods are a challenge to each of us to chart a path for higher efficiency, effectiveness, clarity and mental well-being in all realms of life.
Here’s to more productivity and more good results!