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Get more done by settling thoughts

April 02, 2012

Stressed? Overwhelmed? Not sure how you will possibly get everything done? You’re not alone, and more people these days are feeling the same way. Here’s one thing you can do to improve your ability to, “Get things DONE!”


By Peggy Hodges, ASU-SBDC Business Development Specialist and Rural Business Manager 


SAN ANGELO, Texas — “Git ‘er done” is simplistically stated but to actually accomplish this is mentally and physically challenging!

We can thank Larry “The Cable Guy” for this statement that has been added to our language. The premise is valid, but the follow-through can be challenging. Getting things done has morphed. Current work is knowledge and computer-based, not “do it” based as it was in the past.

An example of a “do it” is mowing the lawn. The work involved here is self-evident. When you are finished, you can see you are finished. The job had defined boundaries. Knowledge-based work requires a different procedure to “git ‘er done.”

“A paradox has emerged in this new millennium,” states David Allen, author of “Getting Things DONE.” “People have an enhanced quality of life, but at the same time they are adding to their stress levels by taking on more than they have the resources to handle. It’s as though their eyes were bigger than their stomach.”

The results are reflected in frustration about how to improve the situation. As with many things I learn, I learned about this book from one of my clients.

In this first of several subsequent articles, I will explore author David Allen’s ideas in these categories:


Manage action

Master workflow

Plan projects

Practice stress-free productivity

Harness the power of it all

Through Allen’s writing, my goal is to apply his process and suggest tools to help people”focus their energies strategically and tactically without letting anything fall through the cracks.”

We first need to look at the relationship between work, the way we think, and our brains. Allen challenges us to understand a karate state of readiness referred to as “mind like water.”

He further explains it, “Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact. Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you.”

The other day I was working on a project. The work was going well and I was accomplishing task after task. The next time I looked at the clock two and a half hours had passed and I was much further down the road than I thought possible. I was in a productive state! How can I replicate that the next time? How can I return to “mind like water?”

Your mind will not be available for a productive state if you have things on your mind. Allen refers to these things on your mind as open loops. ” I define anything pulling at your attention that doesn’t belong where it is, the way it is, as an open loop.

“You need to collect all those open loops and plan how to handle them. That’s where this becomes a game changer!”

What do you have on your mind? What is your open loop? Write down your intended successful outcome. Then, write down the next physical action required to move the situation forward. The value in this comes from the thinking process.

Allen states, “We’re never really taught that we have to think about our work before we can do it; much of our daily activity is already defined for us by the undone and unmoved things staring at us when we come to work. Thinking in a concentrated manner to define desired outcomes is one of the most effective means available for making wishes reality.”

When you just have “things on your mind” the loop is open. That’s why stuff is on your mind. Allen states, “Until thoughts have been clarified and those decisions made and stored in a system your brain can’t give up the job.” Kerry Gleeson, author of The Personal Efficiency Program, said it best: “This constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy.

“This stuff that our mind deals with is not controllable The key to managing all of your ‘stuff’ is managing your actions,” Allen continues.

He challenges us to “capture and organize 100 percent of the stuff.” You can’t fool your brain into a “mind like water” state because if you have stuff that is still in an undecided state, your mind keeps working and working. Many people have been in this state of mental stress for so long they don’t even know it.

Join me on this journey to learn how to relieve the stress. I know I’m eager to learn how to manage action.

“Business Tips” was written by Peggy Hodges Rosser, Rural Business Development Specialist and Certified Business Adviser IV of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at

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