This post was supposed to be a quick start guide to one of the world’s most popular efficiency methods. Before I write that post, however, I want to discuss task stress, how it arises, and the benefits of its removal.
Stress arises when our level of mental energy falls below the level of our mental RAM, which is just like computer RAM—it is working memory—all the tasks that our brain has to keep track of, e.g., pick up groceries on the way home, get the bike tire fixed before Saturday’s ride, pay my sister back for the Girl Scout cookies.
It is important to remember that the number of tasks is not what’s critical. Rather, it is the number of tasks that we keep in our head.
You can lower your stress level in two ways: (a) increase your energy and (b) decrease your stress.
Increasing mental energy is the result of improving your health. A better diet, more exercise, more sleep, better relationships, and even meditation will increase your mental energy. These are all great things to work on.
As for decreasing stress in your life, you can follow a simple method of Getting Things Done that will reduce your task stress level all the way down to zero. Crazy, right?!
This approach is all about reducing the number of items you need to keep in your head—all the way down to zero. Your goal is to keep nothing in your head and never have the same thought twice, and you can do it!
Imagine what happens when you reduce mental stress. First, the force that has been weighing you down is lifted from your shoulders, and you will instantly feel that you have more energy. For me, that energy is manifested by eliminating more items from my task list. It also means not needing to slow down by 50% after lunch and for the rest of the day. What will it mean for you?
Second, removing stress allows my mind to focus better because it is now free of distractions. Each action item I work on now gets 100% of my attention because I’m not constantly thinking of all the other work that needs to be done. This powerful attention increases the quality of my work because each thought I have is not interrupted. It is allowed to roam until its natural end. My mind focuses on finding the “best-in-the-world” type of solution and is not interrupted until it meets its natural end.
The final benefit of reducing stress is that your mind can now be more creative. Being able to rest peacefully with a clear mind and focused intention allows us to be innovative. As you know, stress inserts thoughts and ideas into your mind, but If you remove the stress, your mind will find the peace it needs to work intelligently and creatively and find novel solutions to your complex tasks.
Removing stress can also have many health benefits, such as weight loss, more happiness, cancer protection, better sleep, longer life, and a healthier heart.