When I first read “Getting Things Done” by David Allen in 2001, I was instantly intrigued by the concept of the mind like water. What if instead of feeling pummeled by the world coming at me, I could glide … flow. Aaaahhhh.
What is ‘Mind Like Water’ you ask?
Quite simply, visualize how water reacts.
It absorbs whatever comes its way, and then reforms, effortlessly, instantaneously
It flows … around rocks (and challenges), into small crevices (and opportunities)
It slowly wears down the giant boulders and creates its space
It reflects, and yet, can also be transparent
The world doesn’t stop throwing things at us. In fact, in the information age, it often feels like we’re playing several dodgeball games simultaneously. Not to mention the dodge balls we throw up ourselves. It’s foolhardy to think we can control it all. We can’t. Instead, perhaps, we can manage ourselves better. We can be more like water.
Mind Like Water Checklist
Implementing productivity techniques and skills as described by GTD, The Energy Project, The Power of Habits, The Pomodoro Technique, and others, has certainly made a difference for me. They helped me visualize a mind-like water day.
I have found that being able to regularly remind myself about the habits or techniques that could pull me back into that state, especially on the busiest of days when the world seems only too happy to bombard me, has been really helpful.
Here is a short checklist I created of just 11 reminders that I have found most effective.
Plan the day in blocks, and leave open blocks for urgent stuff
Work in sprints, try to take a break every 90-120 minutes
Have inboxes (physical and electronic) where incoming stuff can be parked
Have a capture tool handy
Let go of distractions and go back to what you were doing again, ….and again, ……and again
Park one task, especially if there is an urgent interruption, before starting another
When on a task, turn off all other distractions
If you feel the urge to switch, stop yourself, breathe deeply and re-focus
Process inboxes at regular, pre-determined intervals. You should consider doing this right after a sprint break.
Prioritize new inputs by referring to your calendar and lists
Use pomodoros to manage task focus timebla
I mentioned earlier that being able to visualize a mind-like water day has been a helpful technique for me. What I would recommend, is creating a small checklist with your favorite ‘mind-like-water’ image as the background, and your favorite tips/reminders as the checklist.
What have you found are the most helpful reminders to achieving a mind-like-water state?