The value of clear space for creative freedom: a refreshing reminder from the GTD Summit

I’ve just returned from the GTD Summit, an international productivity conference in Amsterdam. While there, I shared the stage with Getting Things Done (GTD) creator David Allen, bestselling authors Daniel Pink and David Covey, former astronaut Cady Coleman, and my own highly-accomplished daughter, Wendy Haddad (to name just a few).

A client asked me what my biggest takeaways from the Summit were. While I’m still wrapping my head around it all, I can identify perhaps the most valuable reminder: the value of clear space. It’s wonderfully refreshing to hear fellow experts and enthusiasts talk about such a crucial concept (even if it’s one you’ve applied for years). Clear space is so important because it’s a huge enabler of productivity, creativity, and personal freedom.

I returned home to an overflowing inbox —but I’m not stressed, because I’m confident I have the skills and habits to get it all to zero in time for this week’s holiday. This is what I teach. As I go, I’m creating clear space: I can focus on whatever I choose because I know everything is off my mind, defined, and captured. This means my “mental space” is clear. This is not only incredibly freeing, but incredibly energizing. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when your brain isn’t nagging you about a thousand things.

This kind of freedom is a driving reason behind my shift to my new brand, Faster At Work. It’s not about running faster on a hamster wheel, trying to get more done: it’s about getting the right things done with less effort.

Faster At Work is about creating clear space for your best creative, productive work. It’s about quieting the noise (mentally, digitally, and physically) so you can really focus.

David Allen invited my daughter, Wendy, to present with him and me at the Summit because she has done an incredible job applying the productivity methods she was raised with. These skills enabled her to outperform her peers in college while working less than they, and now she’s doing the same at a major corporation (she’s already been promoted a few times in two years). She knows the value of clear space and how to create it, and she uses it every day to produce extraordinary results.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that she walks around with an empty inbox and clear mind at all times: it means that, when life gets messy and the chaos comes (as it does so often), she knows how to quickly get back to clear.

I’m looking forward to taking some time off over the holiday weekend to rest, work on some creative projects in my garage, maybe blog some more about the GTD Summit, and spend time with my family—and I hope you’ll be ready to do the same.

Happy 4th of July!


How will you create clear space so you can enjoy your weekend?

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One thought on “The value of clear space for creative freedom: a refreshing reminder from the GTD Summit

  1. Thank you for sharing these reflections Eric. I really appreciated the reminder of something I attempt to practice. I really liked these lines – “Clear space is a huge enabler of productivity, creativity and personal freedom,” and “Quiet the noise so you can focus – e.g., mentally, physically, digitally.” Nice to see this blog taking an initial step or two into life as well.