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Get Things Done: Clear Your Brain Cache

David Allen, productivity connoisseur and author of Get Things Done, has found the way to become more productive, while reducing stress. His premise is quite simple: He believes we have a hard time getting things done because needing to get things done stresses us out. And small business owners bear the brunt of this stress.

Most of the things we need to accomplish are rather open-ended: you’re not exactly sure what the outcome will be once the task is completed, or there might be no tangible outcome. People like feedback; you’re conditioned to work in order to have a feeling of accomplishment once you’ve completed a task.

But a lot of the mundane things you need to do at work simply don’t offer that.

Allen’s five-step plan essentially allows you to recondition yourself to accomplish things in spite of a lack of feedback, and to get things done by breaking them down into their component parts, ridding your mind of what he calls are stress-inducing “incompletes” or “open-loops.” We outlined each of the steps of his plan previously.

Let’s focus now on the first step: “Capture.”

Think about your busiest day. Chances are a lot of your stress comes from the idea of needing to make sure you do all of the things you need to do in a busy day. How will you find the time? How will you make sure you remember to do all of it? This kind of stress does nothing to help you - if anything, it only serves to increase the likelihood that you will forget to do something.

To get a grip, Allen suggests that you stop and try to capture everything. And he means everything.

This isn’t a simple to-do list (which are helpful in their own right). This is almost like a form of journaling. Get out a pen and paper (or open up a word doc, or your favorite note-taking app) and write down, in some detail, every single thing on your mind.

Everything you need to accomplish, everything you’re concerned with, everything that has your attention and everything you feel might deserve your attention.

Don’t just stick to work objectives, either. Your personal life, your love life, your pets, your family, the chores you need to do, the things you want to do for your friends. Take all of it, everything on your mind and dump it on a list.

There is a power of writing it down and making a hard copy of it outside of your mind. First off, there are studies on top of studies that show that you’re more likely to remember something you’ve written down.

And beyond that, and perhaps more important for the sake of this exercise, is that you’re taking it literally off of your mind. You don’t need to have a mental checklist, you don’t need to remember. It’s written down.

It’s like emptying your recycle bin on your desktop, or deleting old photos and opening up space on your phone. Your device will run smoother and faster when it isn’t bogged down with information, especially when it doesn’t need some of it!

Clear your cache, unburden your mind.

Write down everything you’re thinking about and open up hard drive space in your head to be productive. The next step will be to parse through that list, and process all of the information you got down - “clarify.”

Want to know more about Getting Things Done? Check back each week for a more in-depth look at David Allen’s five steps. You’ll be so productive, you won’t even recognize yourself!

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