5 Steps to Getting More Done and Having Less Stress in Your Life

Feeling stressed with lots to do? A lot of us could benefit from getting to-dos out of our heads and into a better system. So, here are some tips to beat stress and be more productive.

GTD, or Getting Things Done (http://amzn.to/29LW4M3), is (in my view) a great productivity tool created by David Allen. From reading his book I learned that our minds are not meant to store data, but to process information and make executive decisions. To reduce our level of stress and increase our productivity, here are 5 steps you can take to be on your way to getting more things done and having less stress in your life.

1. Out of your head, into a list

Your brain’s capacity to process information and make executive decisions can be more useful to you than its ability to keep information. While some people are great at remembering things at the right place and the right time, the opportunity cost of using your mind as a reminder tool may be the cause for unwanted stress. If you want to beat stress and be more productive, start with a brain dump: take some time to write down every to-do that is in your head until you feel that you do not have anything else to write down. You will feel great (although exhausted) after that!

2. Know what you really mean

Wait 30 minutes and take a look at your list again. Don’t be surprised if you question yourself on a few items you put down. Now it is a good time to review each item you wrote down and make sure you clarify what you really mean. And by the way, wouldn’t it be nice if you had time to review this list every day, week or month? To make sure you beat stress and be more productive, think about how often you could maintain this list up-to-date; otherwise it will be in the back of your head!

3. Prioritize

I am sure you will agree with me that some to-dos are more important than others, so now is a good time to figure out what needs to be done first. A couple of different ways you can prioritize your list is by assigning due dates, categorizing what has to be done before other things happen, etc.

4. Define what’s next

Some of you have already put a pause on this reading to get a few things done, and if that is you, welcome back! I was about to say that it is a better idea to finish processing the list before getting to action. In this step we define actions for each to-do we set. For each to-do, write down the exact next step that needs to be taken in order to get the ball rolling. This will help you later when you review your list in finding what might be blocking you from getting done!

5. Get to work!

Now to the fun part. You feel much better since you have a complete list. You feel as if you have less stress and much more energy. If that is you, congratulations! You have just helped yourself be less stressed and on your way to getting things done. As you plow through the list make sure you visit it back frequently to mark down what is completed, needs review, has a dependency on other tasks, or perhaps might have had its due date pushed back. If you run into some to-dos that you think are too big and could be broken down in smaller chunks, feel free to do so and go through these steps again to identify, define, prioritize, refine and get things done!


These are just a few of the points that I learned from reading David Allen’s book. Implementing this system in my life has helped me to beat stress and be more productive. Do you have others to add? Let me know in the comments.


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