StuffAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
"Is it the world that’s busy, or my mind?" ~ Haemin Sunim
We have never been so connected before. This connectivity is fully integrated into our lives, 24 hours a day, through the devices we carry with us at all times. Notifications and vibrations compete tirelessly for our attention, and of course, apps are designed to grab our attention for as long as possible.
Have you ever entered your cell phone for a second to check something and ended up spending half an hour looking at the screen? Yes, I have too.
We have integrated this technology so much into our daily lives that some people feel the vibrations of the phone even when they don’t exist. Yes, this has also happened to me.
The technology that enables this hyperconnectivity is fantastic and has transformed the way we live. Today, most of us do many things—work, study, shop, communicate—in a very different way than we did just twenty years ago.
However, this modern way of living has its traps. It’s not uncommon to feel that we are carrying too much at once, and to feel overwhelmed by it. Always being connected can lead to significant stress if we don’t know how to manage all those items that constantly come into our world.
And many times, the stress we feel pushes us to fall more easily into all those distractions that are there, lurking. It’s a vicious circle. Distractions offer a quick escape from the feeling of stress, and at the same time, they don’t let us move forward with the things that really matter, which increases our anxiety.
We live in an increasingly complicated world, and if we fall into the traps of hyperconnectivity we will only react to what’s happening at the moment, we will lose the ability to focus and control our life.
In this environment, how can you focus your attention on what really matters, without getting carried away by distractions and feeling overwhelmed by the large amount of inputs you receive every day?
Easy. Learning how to manage our stuff.
In GTD, stuff is anything that comes up in your life and needs some kind of decision. It’s simply anything that is pending. If we learn to identify them, we will be able to manage them.
Stuff can come from different areas and take different forms: work, home, relationships, hobbies, social networks, personal projects, obligations, problems, etc.
Stuff can come from the outside, but it can also come from the inside. You yourself feel the need to do different kind of things without being asked or required to do so.
If we don’t properly manage our stuff, we will start having problems. Stuff that isn’t managed on time or is mismanaged causes poor performance in all of our areas of interest, makes us lose focus, distracts us, and makes us feel overwhelmed. Things that the brain considers incomplete, don’t let us sleep at night. They are a source of stress that can turn our lives into chaos.
The GTD workflow allows us to effectively manage the open loops of our lives: (1) we capture the stuff that catches our attention, (2) we clarify what this stuff means, and (3) we organize the results, which we (4) reflect on frequently to (5) choose what we are going to do next.