Getting Things Done

Did you know that stress levels peak by age 30 and continue into your 40s?  Have you noticed that some friends look particularly strained after reaching 30? The happy glow has left their face. Maybe the same can be said about you!   It’s a shame to think that life should be like that.  It can be disconcerting when a friend sends, effectively, the same yearly greeting for three years running.  “I’m so sorry for not keeping in better contact with you. It’s just that life has been so hectic.”

Continuously? For three years?

Everyone has something that is nipping at their time. “Oh I wish I had the time that you have to do X, Y or Z.” Regardless of what you are doing in your life -working 12 hour days at a job, completing grad school, going through a major milestone in my life – it always seems that others are commenting on the luxurious amount of time you have at your disposal.  Is that so? Maybe you just know how to make time – how to stretch a minute or convert a priority.

We make choices of our own free will (usually) related to commitments we take on such as parenting a child (or children), taking on a demanding job, or completing advanced degrees, for example. Etiquette books would probably suggest that we not link the inherent challenges we subsequently face into conversations that might make someone else feel less important.

As they say “don’t judge (or make assumptions) until you have walked a thousand miles in another person’s shoes”.

In his book Making it Work, David Allen talks about how you can focus on two main areas: control and perspective.  Control means taking charge of your every day commitments and perspective means knowing where to place these commitments on the horizon of your goals and aspirations.

In an interview Renee Bacher completed with Esther Sternberg, M.D. (author of the Balance Within), Bacher discusses the relationship between the intellectual choices we make and the level of stress in our lives. The following excerpts may be found in the complete article.

1. Prioritize, Organize and Make a Great List

A sense of control is an important stress buster. Making lists is a good way to break down any problem into small, solvable parts, which makes it less overwhelming; it also gives you the sense that you’re taking action.

2. When Things Get Rough, Call Friends (over the local phone or Skype/internet chat)

3. Work at Being Optimists (Challenge Negative Self Talk)


Old: “There are simply not enough hours in a day.”
New: “Everything I need is already on its way to me.”
Old: “Everything is changing so fast, I can’t keep up.”
New: “I am fluid, and rapid change inspires and energizes me.”
Old: “I am afraid of everything spinning out of control.”
New: “Fast is easy, and I am ready to grow quickly.”

4. Don’t Procrastinate

5. Believe
There is a strong correlation between lifelong well-being and the sense of meaning and purpose that comes from having faith.

6. Delegate
Delegating isn’t just about giving something you do down the hierarchy to a subordinate. There are three other ways to delegate: sideways (to a coworker), out (to a temporary agency, for instance) and up (to your boss).

7. Breathe Deeply

Cut tension in half by practising daily breathing exercises. One-breath relaxation technique: Straighten your back, relax your shoulders and take a deep breath through your nose. It should feel like the air is filling your chest and spreading sideways into your rib cage.

8. Relax by Visualizing Happy Endings

9. Schedule Fun…

10. Keep Schedules Simple

11. Know Where to Find Perspective Sometimes the freshest perspective can be found when talking with a child.

When adults learn how to make time work for them, rather than racing against the clock, children will follow their lead.  The resulting effect on the health and well being of the family is significant and priceless.


Stress and worry ebb: Happiness grows after 50

Getting Things Done (David Allen)

How David Allen gets things done

David Allen speaks to the Google staff

David Allen website

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