The Art of Stress-Free Productivity: David Allen [VIDEO]

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Most of us want to get more done!

Here’s how you can focus on what matters and be less anxious about it.

Productivity guru and coach David Allen talks about how to have more mental bandwidth and ability to shift your focus between tasks without worrying about the other tasks at the same time (TEDxClaremontColleges).

Crisis evokes serenity. Crisis makes you concentrate and engage on what’s important at the moment. In a crisis, you engage. How can you use that to create stress-free productivity in your life?

Are you properly engaged with your projects, your vacation coming up, your family, etc.? Or are you thinking about dozens of things at once, not really focusing on any of them?

time quotes Covey

The key is in not spending time, but in investing it. ~ Stephen R. Covey

Results are not about time! Everybody’s got 24 hours. Einstein, Bach, Gates… every one of them got the same 24 hours. The issue is not time. The issue is focus and flexibility.

Don’t keep anything in your head. Anything and everything that’s meaningful write it down. Write down every single action that consists of more than one step. Write down what is the goal. Why are you doing it? How does done look like? Then decide what the next step is.

You need space to think. If you don’t have the psychological bandwidth, two additional hours will not help you.


Ability to shift focus rapidly without being influenced by other areas not relevant at the moment. Don’t take home or work and work to hope. If you are in a mess, you don’t have room to be creative. You will lose perspective, control, and you don’t have the freedom in your head to put appropriate focus on things.

Flexibility trumps perfection. Life is change and perfection makes you rigid. Perspective and flexibility combined with control will help you be calm and see what is important and needs to be done.

Read next:  How to Remember Things You Have to Do

Being flexible means that you can focus on different areas without carrying over the psychological baggage from other tasks.

The Productivity Video

How 43 folders work?

The idea is to organize the things you need to do into 43 folders. 31 folders for the days from today to one month away and then 12 folders for each month of the year. So, let’s say it’s May 16, your folders will line up as follows:

16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

and then you have months:

June July August September November December January February March April May

My system

I created the system as a single file on my computer.

A Word document with 43 folders as headlines and to-do items under each headline. I organize the tasks by when I need to work on them.

Let’s say that I need to create a slide deck for the November 10 event and today is November 1st:

  • I put “10:00 Event” under heading 10 that’s when the event takes place.
  • I add “Create 10 slides” under the date I want to work on it, November 5 for example.
  • On November 5th I work on the slides and hopefully finish them. If done, I will delete the task.
  • If the slides still need more work, I will move it to the next date.

This loop runs as long as the task gets completed. (Or until the event is over).

Three core principles:

  • Write stuff down, capture your thinking
  • Find outcomes and actions in your thinking
  • Map the outcomes and actions and decide where you want to go

david allen productivity

You can do anything, but not everything. ― David Allen

From time to time take new data, re-calibrate and correct course for the next leg of the journey.

Be in the moment, single-task and carve out solid junks of time for important things you need to accomplish.

Read next:  Implementing ROWE

Be like water. Being flexible means that you have the mental bandwidth to cope with anything that life throws at you.

And make sure you do it, now!

The Productivity book

Getting-Things-Done-David-AllenGetting Things Done: How to achieve stress-free productivity by David Allen. This is probably one of the most read book on productivity and the stuff he writes about really gets things done faster than messing around in a usual way. I know. I tried.

Book Description: Is your workload overwhelming? Does it just keep mounting up while your stress levels reach a fever pitch? In Getting Things Done, David Allen teaches you how to keep a clear head, relax and organize your thoughts while implementing the methods that he has introduced at organizations like Microsoft, Lockheed and the US Department of Justice.

Learn the ‘do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it’ principle to empty your in-tray. Handle e-mail, paperwork and unexpected demands in a system of self-management. Plan and progress projects. Reassess goals and stay focused. Apply the two-minute rule when deciding what to do now and what to defer. Overcome feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed. With clear and specific methods and advice, David Allen’s tried and trusted formula for business efficiency could transform the way you operate and your experience of work.

Bonus 1: The Science of Productive Breaks [infographic]

If you are overloaded, don’t push harder, a wise thing to do is to take a break. Breaks can restore your productivity and decrease tension. We looked deeper into the matter and here are some interesting facts and practical advice on how to stay fresh and productive for the entire day. Check out the guide to productive breaks in this new infographic!

The Science of Productive Breaks

Bonus 2: The Productivity Gurus [Infographic]

The Productivity Gurus [Infographic]

Time Doctor – Track your time. Track your team’s time. Know EXACTLY what is REALLY going on.

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Priit Kallas

Founder of I created FixWillpower to help you reach your goals. I have struggled my entire life to be consistent and avoid procrastination. The goal is to have a good life, do the things you love and get your results with minimum effort. FixWillpower website is about how I create motivation and productivity in my life. I write about the tools and techniques, best books, scientific research, and everything else that helps you move faster and stay on track. Minimum effort doesn’t mean slacking off. Minimum effort is about effectiveness and productivity. If there is a way to reach a goal in a shorter time or with less exertion, then you should use that. I will help you be smarter and reach goals faster. About FixWillpower

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