Productivity and GTD

To What Are You Giving Your Attention?

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
"If you don't pay attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves." ~ David Allen
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There are two reasons why you have all those things in your head. Some worrying and bothering you, and others getting you excited or amused, but all taking up space in your life. Or you have decided to consciously think about them, or things are just stealing your attention, without asking. In any case, the first step to good self-management, is to try to put all those things in place.

Surely, most of the things that are unconsciously capturing your attention, form also part of the priorities defined by your higher levels of perspective (which is why they are there), but you will need a bigger effort to identify them correctly and remove them from your head.

As David Allen says, “the mind is a great servant, but a terrible master. Your mind will remind you of all kinds of things when you can do anything about them… More often that not, it seems that people are having thoughts, though not really thinking.” So, to be the master of your thoughts, it’s very important to recognize what things catch your eye.

It is not surprising that Daniel Goleman, in his last book Focus, says that to be able to put your focus on what it most deserves it in every moment is one the most important skills—and most difficult to obtain—in our current society, since we are being constantly bombed by an infinity of claims of all kinds.

Inattention is really bad for your productivity. No matter the method, system or productive tool you use, neither how well versed you are in whatever you do. If you are not able to concentrate on what matters, in whatever you must do in this moment, things will not work out.

Identifying what’s in your head is the first step of the GTD workflow and a fundamental habit to get control, eliminate the stress produced by all those things hitting your psyche and make room in your mind for it to do what it really should: think clearly. It is also the first step to enhance your ability to focus.

In principle, everything that catches your attention is equally important; the phone ringing, a task you should perform or the fuel indicator of your your car reaching its minimum. But you will only master your personal productivity when you are able to pay attention to everything in due time, without being distracted by other options.

GTD rests on that principle: To successfully manage your life and your work, you need to get complete control of your ability to focus.

And you, to what are you giving your attention right now?

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