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"When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven’t."
– Thomas Edison  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 11 November 2019  

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  Stress-free productivity
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.

   
   The lazy, hazy days of summer are over. Labor Day ushered out the vacation season; Sept. 23 marked the first day of autumn; and a light jacket is required in the mornings when I’m outside taking care of my dogs and chickens.
   
   Speaking of timing, motivational speaker Mel Robbins recently stated it is time to snap out of the summer vacation mode and remember the goals we set forth in the beginning of this year. As we quickly approach the seemingly breathless sprint and head-first dive into Christmas and New Year’s Eve, how are you doing on the goals you chose to accomplish last January? I know I lost focus on several of mine. It’s time to reassess our status; and, as the U.S. Navy SEALS often say, “Get after it.”
   
   To be effective in completing my remaining goals, I found a book written by David Allen called “Things Done – the Art of Stress-free Productivity.” Allen has been training people and businesses for more than 20 years on how to maximize their productivity in a clear and quiet-minded way with his proven processes.
   
   Today, we are bombarded in every direction by our connection to the digital world. We no longer have solid boundaries for our work life — emails and calls make it to your phone at all hours of the day and night.
   
   The constant demands and changing landscape of business and home life can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. Any random thought that pulls at your attention and results in a mental to-do-list is considered an “open loop” or an “incomplete.”
   
   When a task enters your mind, know that it remains an open loop until you decide what to do with it. Unless you have immediate closure, these open loops will circulate in your mind and pop up at any time of the day –- always at the most inopportune time when you can’t do anything about it.
   
   There are two main objectives to David Allen’s stress-free productivity exercise. First, capture every item on your copious to-do-lists and collect them in a logical way in order to get them out of your head. Second, utilize self-discipline to make upfront decisions about those items, with a plan to take on the next action.
   
   Here’s how to conquer the open loops and endless mental to-do-list.
   
   Whether you use an app on your phone (Asana, Todoist, nTask, OmniFocus) or paper notebook, write down the thought as a Topic/Project. Next, write a descriptive Success Statement of what that topic looks like when completed. Last, write down the Next Action Steps.
   
   For example: the Topic/Project: New tires for my car; the Success Statement: Before the month is over, I will go to Big O and purchase four new tires for the car; last, my Next Action Steps: 1) research tires and prices 2) check my calendar — available date for purchase and installation 3) ensure adequate funds and 4) go online and make the appointment.
   
   The success of this system consists of upfront thinking, planning and the most important aspect — follow through.
   
   It’s important you pick a day every week to look at your Topic/Project list and review what remains outstanding for the next action. Maybe, by the end of the week, some topics are not as important or have already been settled. If not, you have concrete actions to plan for the upcoming week.
   
   This technique is highly effective. With three months left in 2019, clear your mind of nagging to dos and turn your endless lists in to an inventory of accomplishments.
  
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