How to live in the present moment when life is busy

A number of times recently people have asked me about how I manage my time and my tasks, so I thought I would do a post on it.  The key tension for me in life is between a desire to get a lot of things done, making a big difference and the desire to be in the present moment.  Of course, like anyone, else I would like more time, perhaps another day in the week or at least a few more hours each day.  However, I haven’t made a lot of progress in achieving this!

The turning point came for me when I suddenly noticed that I was forgetting to reply to emails and forgetting important things that needed to be done.  My initial response was to try harder to keep these things in my head, but the result was a lack of focus on whatever I was doing at the time.  I discovered Dave Allen’s, Getting Things Done (GTD), system and it helped me greatly.  For me a key element is having lists of things that I can rely on to make sure that I don’t miss anything.  It has changed the way I take notes and use email, task management apps and project management tools.  The system I now have I can trust to make sure that everything will come to my attention at the appropriate time.  The real benefit of this is that I can give my entire focus to something, without having to have a part of my mind trying to remember all the important things I mustn’t forget.  Even though I now have more tasks and responsibilities than ever before, I feel less stressed.

It is important to tackle a couple of objections straight away  First, given my love of tech, my systems are all online apps, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  The system doesn’t really matter, so long as you aren’t trying to hold anything in your head.  You can do all of this on paper if you want.  Second, this isn’t about becoming a slave to lists and reminders, but about becoming free to be fully engaged with whatever is in front of you right now.  The system isn’t meant to drive you, it is meant to release you.

To find out more watch this great video in which Dave Allen gives an overview of what GTD is all about.

To go deeper, here is Dave Allen’s book:

Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity

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