From reading his books, and attending his Roadmap seminar, David Allen's whole point of putting things in the GTD system is to give oneself as much time as possible to relax, goof off, and space out. That's what "stress-free productivity" means.
There's a high associated to kicking ass under high-stress situations, a rush to the ego and self-satisfaction of multi-tasking efficiently. One feels superhuman, pushing limits of time and energy to the limit and expanding one's limits. I used to be prideful about this kind of plate-spinning-split-attention-multitasking proficiency. But what am I busy with? That's a Tim Ferriss-kind of question, to evaluate the "busy work," and if what I'm doing is worthwhile (also David Seah-style).
Sometimes, coming off a binge of hyperproductivity and an extremely fast-paced, high-octane stretch of work focus, it can be difficult to wind down. The mind's machine whirs and clicks and becomes greedily accustomed to crunching tasks and data. When the work is done, it becomes hard to relax, and in the absence of "problems to crunch" the mind troubleshoots even the most silent, content moments, for some new problem to solve, even inventing or exacerbating problems just for FOOD.
My point, and the point of all the thinkers below, is that the goal of efficiency and productivity is to create more space/time for higher level creative thinking, pleasure/leisure-centric activities and RELAXATION!
Let me summarize what I've grokked from these guys below:
David Allen: capture data in trusted system and set times/contexts to execute and review - goal of stress-free productivity; clear psychic RAM and be focus-efficient with the details, free up mindspace for abstract, genius, creative thinking. Goal: Chill time.
Tim Ferriss: Energy and time-efficient clients. Paring down to sparest and most effective actions, outsourcing, automating or eliminate all else. Work smart and efficiently to be more productive in less time. Goal: Chill time.
Malcolm Gladwell: Blink. I decided. Trust intuition about decisions and eliminate inefficient struggle or self-doubt. Goal: Chill time.
"It is also important to develop the habit of doing whatever needs to be done with concentrated attention. Even the most routine tasks, like washing dishes, dressing, or mowing the lawn, become more rewarding if we approach them with the care it would take to make a work of art. "
Likens the Flow state to the basic concept of Zen mindfulness. To summarize: GO WASH YOUR BOWL!
Goal: Chill out time.
Jim Loehr: As a corporate athlete, the most energy-efficient way to work is in sprints of hyper/productivity. Focus sprints allow for long periods of downtime to rest, recover, relax. Goal: Chill time.
David Seah: Be aware of how you spend your "billable hour" and if what you're doing is the best use of your time. Do what's the best use of your time and skillset, don't waste time doing what's beneath your skill level if you can help it. Goal: More chill-time.
Lesson: It's all about chill time. Being productive, getting tasks done should make you feel relaxed as your reward. As you are rushing about, crossing off your action items, remember to not only enjoy the moment of closing the open loop, but also consider that the elegant, efficient execution of tasks CREATES space for pleasure-centric activities!
So when your work for the day is done, don't seek out more work. Enforce a quota for "work time" with yourself, and protect and defend your pleasure-centric hours of the day, however you choose to spend them. Is there a switch to turn off hyper-productivity and multitasking anxiety? Yes. It's the same switch that turns on your thoughts of pleasure and leisure.
Here is Carmen's "Optimal Mindset" "License to Space Out" recipe, this is what I use to unplug and fall back into full possession of myself:
1. Stop all action.
2. Be alone in a room.
3. Lock the door.
4. Close the laptop.
5. Turn off the phone.
6. Hide the clock.
7. Drink some water.
8. Lie on the floor and be still. Stare at the ceiling or close your eyes.
9. Take 10 deep cleansing breaths.
10. Don't move until something really COMPELS you to move. Observe what motivates you to get up, besides eating and going to the bathroom.
Be still for as long as you can until something COMPELS you to movement. What's compelling? It's what YOU want to do. It's what you WANT to do. Not because it's expected, or you're obligated, or you want to prove something.
This is how I sort my priorities. By reminding myself how I choose my Next Action, based on what is important to me, and how I want to do things that concern what is important to me.