Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Fully Present and GTD

You can tell a dating couple from a married couple when you go into a restaurant. The dating couple is talking and laughing and gazing into each others' eyes. They are in their own little world. The married couple will occasionally talk or look at each other, but they're pretty focused on getting the food eaten. The difference: the people dating are fully present with each other. (this is also a reason people have affairs with someone new, but that's a different topic).

Before learning how to manage my time (with Getting Things Done), there was virtually no chance of my ever being "fully present" - not for church members, or my wife, or God.

I always had a bunch of things (appointments, commitments, ideas, projects) filling my brain. I was afraid something would fall out. And full presence went out the window.

Devotional time: I'm reading scripture - my eyes are still scanning the lines, but my brain is obsessing over unfinished business. I'm praying, but I'm thinking about having to mow my lawn and pick up the dry cleaning and getting some items on the board meeting agenda. (It's not ADD or ADHD, it's a lack of time management skills.)

A trick I learned was to write down the open loop or obsession or task, thus getting it out of my brain and into a trusted place so I could come back to it later. This would help me get focused again on my devotional for a few moments, but then there were more things to obsess about (and write down).

There were always more things to write down - more open commitments that I hadn't captured. Until GTD. When I did the mindsweep and captured all of my open loops and commitments into a trusted system, I suddenly had the ability to become fully present. I'll still get an idea, or realize something I haven't captured, but it's not this unstoppable flood... As soon as I get an idea, or realize a commitment, I write it down.

Now, I have the ability to be fully present (thanks to GTD), but I have not exercised it well. It turns out it's still going to take some practice to make it my automatic, habitual response to people (or God).

How are you fully present with others at work or home? How are you fully present with God?


Todd V said...

Excellent post! I had the exact same experience with GTD and it really amazed me. A system that I thought originally would just get me organized and help me get more done eventually made me more 'present' in-the-moment. This was true whether I was with tasks or with people. I've always heard it said that "If you're going to be somewhere, then be there." GTD has really helped me empty the mental drag that used to keep me from being completely present with others.

And what's more, after gaining this newfound awareness it helped me realize I could put "relational" projects into my system that I normally would not think to include in a mind sweep. Things like a project for improving my relationships with those closest to me or writing down the fact that I'm always thinking about this one person who bugs me; and then coming up with a project to work through the issues involved. It's amazing once you begin to realize that GTD can help you become more present because it then helps you realize that there are still more *subtle* things left to capture.

As your post makes clear, GTD can help with a lot more than time-management; it can help improve relationships, too.

Ash said...

so....now you're dating god ;)

nice post though. it really shows how GTD can allow your mind to focus on what's really important in life. i think it's important people see this side of GTD, instead of the "always categorizing always checking always on the go" obsessiveness that is sometimes associated to it.