Productive Living
David Allen

Hi Folks,

If you're like most people, you've experienced a positive shift in your energy and enthusiasm simply by identifying what you want to do about a project, situation, or opportunity (even if the decision is to not do anything about it now and park it on Someday Maybe). You're clarifying what it means to you. My essay this month is about one of the core tenets of GTD®—a principle that makes for more freedom in your psyche and greater room for your creativity. It's a technique you can apply to your own stuff, your team's, your family's, and your organization's: name it and you own it. But don't take my word for it—apply it yourself. Go find something that you've been trying to ignore. See what naming it does to release its hold on you.

All the best,



Getting Free

One of the reasons the GTD approach can be so empowering comes down to a simple, primal dynamic: When something is named, it is known; and when it is known, its hold on us is released. When things we have allowed into our inner or outer world are appropriately and accurately identified, we feel curiously freed from them. It's all about clarifying what things mean to us and sorting them in our world appropriately.

Do you have any projects that you haven't identified as projects yet? Got anything you've been thinking that needs clarification, resolution, or looking into, that you don't have on a Projects list yet, that you look at regularly to keep actions moving toward? What are you telling yourselves as a team or organization you should be doing, but is not identified in any way except a gnawing sense of anxiety that you're not there yet?

Do you have piles of things around your office or your house that have unidentified agreements sitting within them? Is this to read, toss, or file? Are there things that you think you need to be moving on but you haven't defined what "moving" looks like physically or visibly yet (the Next Action)?

If you do have things that still need to be identified, then there is good news for you—there is potential energy and freedom embedded there that is available to you if you name them! If you don't, well, it's just the opposite. Do you have binders on your shelves with no labels on the spines? Use a labeler to identify them visually on the outside, and notice the subtle but very perceptible increase in your relaxation when you walk into the space in which they're stored.

The problem is that most people have never fully gotten to the place where everything is really categorized appropriately, according to all the different types and amounts of agreements with themselves. You won't know how much restriction you are actually working under, until you get rid of it, and see how different you feel.

Sit down and do a Mind Sweep—by yourself, with your team, with your organization. Then decide your outcomes and Next Actions on all of that. See what's holding you back simply because it hasn't been identified.



"The truth that sets us free is often the one we don't want to hear."



Question: Can you explain how you apply your concept of Mind Like Water in your life and help others apply it?

Answer: It's pretty simple. Having your psyche totally free to give 100% attention toward what you want, the way you want to, is the optimal way to be "in your zone." But if you don't give appropriate attention to the things that grab your attention, they will then take more of your attention than they deserve, and they then clutter up your psychic sandbox. So I just notice what has my attention and do what's necessary to get it quickly onto "cruise control." How to do that is what we share with everyone we coach and teach.

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"I invite you to listen to the voice in your head as you journey with GTD. Do what feels right, not what is the coolest. This system/process/approach should be in service to YOU and what works for YOU. There is enough in our lives we have to do—processes that are forced upon us, unreasonable timelines, and more. GTD shouldn't be one of those. It should make you feel good."

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