One of my favourite productivity experts is David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity and Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life. His approach is to develop a ‘mind like water’ by creating placeholders for every incomplete item in our lives. Once we have an airtight inventory, a regular review keeps it current. This frees us to focus on the present moment and on being creative rather than anxiously trying to remember everything.
David’s system has worked well for me for many years, but I am still frequently inspired by fresh insights shared on his GTD Times blog and newsletter. A recent post discussed dropping stale tasks from our action lists.
The world changes, and our creative focus along with it. So do our standards. We will always maintain some inventory or backlog of projects to complete, of things to do. But if we’re not careful and take responsibility for unhooking from those that have outlived their seat on our active list, they can easily constipate our creative process.
Just as it’s easy to keep possessions that no longer fit our current lives, so we can hold onto tasks that have outlived their relevance. It’s simple to skim over a list, immune to jobs that have been sitting there too long.
Take a moment to review your lists and look for tasks that are old, incomplete, or no longer important. Do them, delete them, or move them to a maybe list—purge them and feel refreshed!