Guest post from Mystie Winckler
Ever wonder what the point of keeping organized lists and calendars and plans really is?
Often is seems we do it to impress others, to look good, to get more done (and be impressive). Such motivations are sure to lead us to crash and burn. After all, pride comes before a fall.
A better reason to keep up with a system is that it eliminates mental distraction and overload so that the mind is freed to be present in the moment and make appropriate moment-to-moment decisions. After all, life happens moment-to-moment and not typically according to schedule. If your system requires you to force your life into time boxes, you will increase your anxiety and tension, not diminish it. It might feel like control, but it isn’t at all. Homemakers need organization helps that focus on mental focus and clarity rather than tight control of circumstances.
Because so often the truth is that prioritized to-do lists simply don’t work after the first interruption. And what is life at home other than one interruption after another?
C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The great thing is, if one can, to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions in one’s “own” or “real” life. The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life.” Interruptions are life. We aren’t derailed when they happen; we are living. God is reminding us that we are not in control, but that we can trust Him.
So, how can one plan and manage and not be completely thrown off by the interruptions to the plan throughout the day?
Clarity and Peace in the Midst of Interruptions:
Instead of a predetermined schedule you must create and implement, you need to be able to re-negotiate what you are going to do on the fly, with a reliable intuition about what is “right” at that moment, in your current circumstance. We need to blend proactive planning with reactive spontaneity. Is that even possible?
Getting Things Done, by David Allen, is a business productivity book, but it is one focused on common sense and mental clarity rather than an attempt to make everyone a hyper Type-A perfectionist. Its goal is to bring you to a place where you can peacefully and intentionally make good choices about what to do without feeling like we have a million details pulling us in a million directions at once. Isn’t that exactly what homemakers need?
The primary discipline that Getting Things Done coaches you through is threefold:
1. Capture all that needs to be done in your world — now, later, someday, yesterday, big, little, really ALL — outside of your head. Write it all down. Outside of your head means off your mind if you trust where you have put the data.
2. Make front-end decisions about each project’s desired outcome so you know when it is finished. Everything could always be done *better*; decide before you begin what will constitute “done.” Of course, write it down.
3. Regularly review and update your lists so that you can trust them as the reminders they are supposed to be.
That’s the essence. Three steps.
Getting Things Done‘s focus, then, is to organize your stuff and manage your actions not so that you can take on more and more or impress everyone with your skillz, but so that you can achieve peace of mind and clarity of thought. If you’d like to walk through the process step-by-step, check out my series 31 Days to GTD for Homemakers.
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