How do I stop feeling stressed if there is something to be done?

Renee Murray

Get comfortable with the idea that your lists won't be down to zero until the day you die.
I have a quote from David on my office wall. It says, "You have more to do than you can possibly do. You just need to feel good about your choices."

I remember when I first read it. It was so affirming to realize it wasn't ever going to get it ALL done.

The review is key. Acceptance of the fact that there's just too much is also key.

Jackie Roemer

Hey guys. How do I stop feeling stressed over the fact that there is something in the system that needs to be done?
I'll tell you what I do; I keep a notebook, on me at all times and write down every darn thing coming into my mind. Trust me, I highlight things. Mark it up. Go back to the GTD book or audio (finished it on slow speed) to see where in the system what I wrote down Fits. That's where I was in 2013 when I started using this system. And even now, I just discovered 1} my lists were not really @context But normal confusing To Do lists. and 2} Big Deal things that stressed me a lot were actually Projects.

So I'm on here today, exploring what people are saying about Projects. Allen did say you have to know the Present. What's really happening to know what to do. That was/ still is really hard for me. Repetition is the only way I know to fix that. Don't give up.


I've been overthinking a lot of tasks, saying that they would take weeks to get done... When most of them took a couple of hours, a couple of minutes or were not worth doing at all !
The best thing, in my opinion, is to jump right through it! Start doing the task, maybe use Pomodoro method, work for 20/30 minutes then rest.
You'll be happy your started and there's a big chance you'll finish it and be less stressed about the process for next time.


Hey guys. How do I stop feeling stressed over the fact that there is something in the system that needs to be done?
Knowing you have a good plan for doing the thing, a plan that you can trust, can significantly cut down on the stress. I'm not stressed about buying rolled oats because I know I'll do it the next time I go grocery shopping. Stress is caused by open loops. Putting "buy rolled oats" on the grocery list will be enough to close or park that loop and quell the stress.

Emotions are really good at finding problems (not so great at finding solutions). And here the stress means you have open loops.

Look over your project list and make sure you have trusthworthy plans for the things in there. One of the best things you can do is deciding "OK, I will not possibly have time to do this one. So I won't." and then try to fully accept that. Another is to break it down into subprojects and put actual concrete tasks for those sub-projects in places where yo u will really look at them. For example stick a big old post-it note right in your face on your computer screen or place your keyboard or phone in a box or something.

Having a bunch of projects is great because it allows us to work on them flexibly and batch similar tasks together. Buuuut when those projects come with deadlines it can be possible to take on too much.

Recently I had a lot of large no-deadline projects going in parallel (which is the perfect setup for GTD) but I've "parked" several of them because I suddenly got a big project with a very tight deadline that I want to make sure I hit. And, as always, GTD was such a godsend to help me break it down and sort it out and do it along with the un-park-able parts of my life.

When I feel stressed about that particular project, the thing that really helps the most is to work on it. The life-changing magic of step 5: engage.

Yes, I agree. If you want to continue Projects, you inherit them. But it's your choice - you can abandon them. And some obligations and commitments cease to exist.
You can just as easily abandon your own projects. I've been at "list zero" at a couple of times, the first time was a couple of years after I started GTD, but it must've been around ten years ago now. I was unemployed and I had been ruthless at discarding projects and simplifying my life, and finishing some important ones. Please, don't reproach me for how empty my life had become... But being at "list zero" was great. I moved to a new city shortly thereafter.

Jodie E. Francis

GTD Novice
@2097 I'm envious - I remember "list zero" and the phenomenal feeling of weightlessness & freedom it brought!
Sadly I haven't been there for decades. But I think you've just inspired me to be more ruthless with my lists - thanks :)