To Change Things, You Need to Appeal to Emotion

Published on November 23, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

Or why you need goals with an emotional component.

In their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, the Heath brothers argue that if you want to change the way someone behaves (including yourself) you’ll need to appeal to both the Rider and the Elephant within that person.

The Rider and the Elephant are metaphorical figures representing two independent systems in our brain that work at the same time. The Rider is our rational side, the one that decides and analyzes things, and it looks towards the future. The Elephant is our emotional and instinctive side, the one that perceives pain and pleasure.

emotional side

The Rider thinks, plans and is able to define the way toward a better future. It provides guidance, but is unable to use its strength for a long time. The Elephant provides energy and drive.


The Planning Fallacy and GTD

Published on November 16, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

What the Planning Fallacy is and how it affects your way of doing things.

Are you one of those people who estimate the time that it will take to complete each task, in order to know how many things you will get done at the end of the day, week or month? If so, how often do you check off all the tasks in your to-do list, at the end of the period? If you’re like almost people, the answer is “rarely”.

The planning fallacy is a phenomenon introduced in 1979 by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, and one of the most universally studied cognitive biases. It basically means that we are too optimistic in estimating how long we need to finish doing something. Inaccurate estimates in the completion of tasks and projects are important, because they have economic, social and personal costs.

planning image

This phenomenon only takes place with tasks that we have to do. If someone asks us to estimate tasks that others have to do, we tend to do the exact opposite: we believe that it will take more than they really should take.


The Zeigarnik Effect and GTD

Published on November 10, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

Why outstanding tasks don't stop to stress you and what you can do about it.

Bluma Zeigarnik, 1921

One day in 1927 Bluma Zeigarnik, a Russian student of psychology at the University of Berlin, went along with several classmates and teachers to have dinner at a restaurant in town. When the waiter who served them took the order of all the diners with absolutely nothing to write in, as he did with the rest of the tables, she thought it was going to end badly. However, after a while the waiter served everyone exactly what they ordered.

Once they left the restaurant, Bluma Zeigarnik realized she had forgotten the scarf inside. So she went back inside and asked the waiter with the amazing memory if he had seen it. The waiter didn’t remember her, much less he remembered where she had sat. “How is it possible that you do not remember me with such a good memory?” asked Bluma. “I just keep the orders in my mind until they are served,” replied the waiter.

Zeigarnik decided to study this strange behavior. Along with her mentor Kurt Lewing, she made a series of experiments that showed that we all function more or less like that waiter. Our brain retains the unfinished tasks that are constantly drawing the attention of our consciousness, and when we finish them, the brain eliminates them. This has been called the Zeigarnik effect.


How to Organize Your Reference Material

Published on November 02, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

If your filing system isn't fast, functional, and fun, you'll resist the whole process.

organizing the reference material

“If your filing system isn’t fast, functional, and fun, you’ll resist the whole process.” ~ David Allen

Many of the things that fall into your hands do not require any action but contain valuable and useful information for some of your tasks or some future project.

In GTD, we call this type of information Reference Material and, although it can be physical material (books, magazines, bills, printed reports, etc.) I would argue that today the vast majority of reference material that reaches us has digital support (links to articles, e-books, text documents, spreadsheets, PDF files, emails, etc.). In my case, I am not exaggerating if I say that 95% of my reference material is digital.


Principles vs. Rules

Published on October 26, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

Why do we strive to create rules for everything?

“There are three constants in life… change, choice and principles.” ~ Stephen Covey

Principles and rules can be understood in different ways, so in this article I will refer to principles as “fundamental ideas that govern someone’s thought or behavior”, and to rules as “that which must be complied with because it has been agreed within a community.”

Although both things determine the way you act and take decisions, rules are imposed from the outside and must be obeyed to avoid incurring some kind of penalty (a punishment, a fine, a layoff, a season in jail, etc.) whereas principles are internal, and force you to do what you think it is right or correct.

The world is plenty of rules. Society, family, the workplace… Rules exist everywhere, not necessarily in written or official form, but as a series of appropriate behaviors that establish where the limits are.


What "Reflect" Means in GTD and Why It Is so Important

Published on October 19, 2015 by Francisco Sáez

Capture and clarify everything that comes to your head worth very little if you do not review these things consistently.


“You can only feel good about what you’re not doing when you know what you’re not doing.” ~ David Allen

The ultimate goal of the workflow defined by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done is to ensure that you’re always doing what you really need to be doing and, at the same time, you feel good by not doing what you’re not doing.

These two factors lead you to be highly productive (you move towards activities that produce benefits, whatever it means for you) with the least possible level of stress (you don’t feel overwhelmed by the tasks that are waiting.)


Boost Your Productivity by Eliminating These 8 Time Management Mistakes

Published on October 12, 2015 by Marlena Kuczyńska

Eight things you have to consider if you really want to effectively use your time.

Infographic Boost Your Productivity by Eliminating These 8 Time Management Mistakes

Do you feel that your productivity is lower than expected? You feel overwhelmed with that amount of tasks, “distracted” is your middle name and you still exceed deadlines.

These kind of problems are usually caused by poor time management. Eliminate these eight time management mistakes and find a way for boosting your productivity!

1. Procrastinating

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