The restful way to get things done.

The restful way to get things done.
Photo by Drew Coffman / Unsplash

“Life is just really busy right now.”

Have you heard that lately? Have you said that lately?

Your life is likely something like mine: a whirlwind of tasks, to-dos, and endless thoughts buzzing around in your head. They’re like little bees. They buzz loudly, then zip away quickly, only to be replaced by yet another bee.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the constant mental juggling act. If we were to capture this moment in image form, it would look something like this.

There’s a way to give your brain a much-needed break and boost your productivity at the same time. Enter the world of “Getting Things Done” (GTD), where you can learn to tame those buzzing thoughts and achieve more with less stress.

The Brain’s “Open Loops”

First, let’s talk about “open loops.” These are the pesky little thoughts, ideas, and tasks that constantly flit in and out of your mind.

They’re like tiny mental bees, buzzing around and causing low-level anxiety that can be downright distracting.

Imagine your brain as a busy beehive.

Each open loop is like an unruly bee that disrupts the harmony of the hive (your brain). That part you get, but what can you do about it?

You create a haven for these buzzing bees—a single place to gather all your thoughts, ideas, and to-dos. When we have open loops in our brains, we experience ongoing low-level anxiety, which distracts us and makes it difficult to focus.

Document all of these open loops in one place, rather than putting this massive strain on your head. Consolidate all of your miscellaneous sticky notes, bullet points from different apps, and mental reminders into this one location, and continue to add to it over time.

The Power of Prioritization

Now that your buzzing bees are safely corralled, it’s time to tackle your day like a champ. Start by identifying your “rock” for the day.

What’s the one thing that, if accomplished, would make you feel like a superhero? We all have tasks that seem insurmountable, but here’s the secret: You can break them down into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Ask yourself, “What would a chunk of productive work on this project look like today?”

This simple question can transform a daunting task into a series of achievable steps. Now you’ve got your rock—the one thing that deserves your laser-like focus.

Rock vs. Stones

Picture your day as a garden.

Your rock is the massive boulder at the center, while the stones are smaller, more scattered tasks — like replying to emails or chatting with colleagues about a project.

The catch?

If you don’t prioritize your rock, those stones will quickly fill your day, leaving your most important task untouched.

To regain control, make it a rule to tackle your rock first thing in the morning. This ensures your top priority gets the attention it deserves and sets a positive tone for the rest of your day.

Small successes build momentum, leading to greater productivity throughout the day.

Time Management (the secret sauce)

Okay, now here’s the trick to supercharge your focus: set a timer.

Our brains can be easily distracted, especially when faced with daunting tasks. During the pandemic, many of us went from marathon 45-minute focus sessions to bite-sized 10-minute bursts, which worked wonders!

Set a timer for 10 minutes and commit to working on your rock with zero distractions.

Here’s the beauty of it: one of two things will happen.

  1. You might slip into a state of flow, and when that timer chimes, you’ll be eager to keep going.
  2. Or, you might find that the timer is a welcome break. In that case, take a short breather, then reset the timer and dive back in.

You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in just 10 minutes. (Fun fact: this entire blog post was written using this strategy!)

Give your brain a rest.

So, there you have it—a simple yet effective way to give your brain a break, boost your productivity, and reduce stress.

Remember, it’s all about corralling those buzzing thoughts, setting your daily rock, and using the power of timers to supercharge your focus.

Now, go conquer those rocks, and don’t let the stones steal your day. 🚀