A core principle of David Allen’s approach to “getting things done”—his remarkable and hugely popular system for stress-free productivity—is to keep focused on the process of working through the items in our personal list of unfinished business. This can occur at the basic level of emptying an email Inbox, all the way to the processing of major life transitions that we need to prepare for. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by these “open loops”, Allen encourages people to dig in and resolve things one by one, to clear the way for new and potentially exciting opportunities. But he says taking care of business can’t be relentless. Human beings are constructed to need breaks, time to get refreshed and rejuvenated. Ways to re-charge, from personal journaling to quiet meditation, are considered.
There are rhythmic patterns to your breathing, rhythmic patterns to your heartbeat, rhythmic patterns to your energy levels, your thinking processes, etc. And, you know, lots of studies out there about how valuable it is to every 90 minutes you need to stop and sort of, you know, rejigger your mind, because you’re likely to be running down some path that will be suboptimal if you keep trying to push on that too long. So I think a lot of it is just awareness of your own energy, and how, you know, we’re not just an ‘always on’ machine that you can run without burning out.”
—David Allen, author of Getting Things Done