Getting Things Done – how to stress less...

The book and method ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen is about efficiency without stress. It is immensely popular at the moment. I would like to pay some attention to it, for this approach is different from most others. The methodology suits well with my position that habits, triggers and chaining are the key to (long lasting) change. David Allen has two main goals. All things that need to be done need to fit into a logical and reliable system. Preferably an external system (no mental note) to leave stress outside of your head. All new input needs to fit easily into this system. Also the system should be able to tell us what (if any) follow-up action is needed. The idea behind these two main goals is that you should (re)act more efficient to those things that happen to you. You should react just enough (not too much or too little). Stress arises when you cannot keep a promise. With the Getting Things Done system you learn to avoid this. (Look here for research into making the best out of stress.) Managing your intentions The main message of the book is: Do not use your brain to remember all things you intend to do. Remembering everything (or trying to) will cloud your thought. Use an external system to keep track of what needs to be done. To act efficiently, it is often better to think (long and hard!) before you act. Knowledge work is most of the time not about clearly defined goals; it is often about vague expectations. This can, and often will, lead to stress. To reduce stress, translate those vague expectations into clear goals. This will give productivity a boost and reduce stress. Once you...

Why you should start experiencing stress as your friend...

What if your approach to stress would have a really big impact on how bad it is to you and your body? Research shows that believing stress is harmful for your health ‘makes’ it harmful. Changing your mind about stress will change your body reactions. Kelly McGonigal suggests we should look at stress in another way: we should stop interpreting our body signals as negative reactions. Getting sweaty is not about feeling desperate, it is a heightened level of concentration, energizing you to get ready for the (stressful) task at hand. Body and mind seem to start working together when we start seeing stress as a positive thing. When you are not feeling stressed out about your physical reactions, the bodily responses actually change. This is only possible by interpreting our bodily responses as positive or helpful. Also very interesting to me: stress releases oxytocin and this nudges us to seek contact and help. That is amazingly helpful in stressful times (no matter if you experience the situation as positive or negative). This hormone is not only healthy because it helps you share and seek help, it also helps your body regenerate after a stressful time. Helping out others and caring for others makes the harmful effects of stress undone, so even when you think you are busy helping others might be something to make time for. How different I will feel the next time I wake up with a feeling that so many things still need to get done! I definitely recommend you watch the video! Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/...

I object myself

Stress will kill all your good intentions. The chance of actually performing those acts that we are not accustomed to, but did plan, will drop dramatically when we experience stress. Hindrances and problems that we come across while trying to change our behavior, will make us stressful. Two very recognizable stress factors are interruptions throughout our action and the idea of not having enough time. The situation as we planned it to be like Gollwitzer did a lot of research on this subject, his implementation intentions can be a good start to prevent ourselves to relapse into old behavior. Implementation intentions are more tangible and practical intentions, with a planned moment, situation and so on. Implementation intentions will help us to remember what we planned to do. Through the addition of triggers (where, what, when) we are more likely to think of our intention and succeed in actually executing it. The actual situation The problem with implementation intentions is that they are focused on a positive frame in which we plan our future behavior and everything goes according to plan. This – of course – is far from how it often goes. Whenever we meet a problem or hindrance that keeps us from our old behavior, it will give us stress. Thinking about the possible problems we can encounter will not only give us a quick answer how to stick to our original plan. Thinking through possible objections and problems will also make us react less stressful to the objections. An example Maybe you intent to be nicer to customers at work. You just had a course and are determined to stay friendly no matter what happens. Then there comes a customer who is really angry at you for...