Like David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, this series, 31 Days to GTD for Homemakers is about managing your stuff and your actions, and once those are under control, your mind is left more free and clear to focus on the present moment with your family. So this series is not about shaping our homes and families to a business model, but about being in control of our tasks and stuff rather than letting it control us, so that instead of running around like chickens with heads cut off, we may be more free and calm to make the correct intuitive decision about how to handle whatever is before us in the moment.
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Where to Begin
Most management or organization books have you begin with the big picture, with your grand vision, or with your priorities. Getting Things Done, however, is the opposite. Instead, Allen says if you’re buried and stressed, you are not going to be able to think well at that high level.
So start with the nitty-gritty. After all, the more our values and vision is clarified, the more that actually ups the ante, raises the bar, increases the pressure. When you have a grand vision, the amount you feel you must do now increases dramatically. Instead, start with where you are and work your way up and out to the clearing.
Until you have your current stuff under control, you understandably will have mental resistance to undertake more. Until the mundane and urgent is dealt with, the mental distraction is too great to focus on lofty goals.
Unlike most others, Allen has you start from the bottom up as you think about your life.
- Action Items: thorough inventory of actions, projects, calendar events. You need a grounded sense of reality before you can take off.
- Current Projects: what is on your plate right now? You need to know what your availability is right now.
- Areas of Responsibility: what roles are you filling? You need to know what your jobs are in each area of life. Are you managing them all in proper proportion?
- Goals: 1-3 year progress goals. What would you like to accomplish in the short-term?
- Vision: 5-10 year goals. In what direction is your life moving?
- Life: purpose statement. Who are you and why are you here?
What I have always very much appreciated about being not only a Christian, but a Christian grounded in age-old creeds, is that the seemingly mysterious and daunting aspect #6 is, of them all, the easiest: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
This is one framework, anyway, which you can use to determine if your projects and responsibilities are balanced and moving the direction you intend. It can also help trigger projects or action items that might get glossed over, but that would greatly improve the fulfillment of one or another area of responsibility you have.
A Higher-Level View
After getting the mundane, necessary stuff handled, Allen does recommend taking a broader look at your life to examine what roles you have, what goals you have, and whether or not you are working toward fulfilling your responsibilities. When you have achieved some mental clarity from setting up a manageable system, then you can more readily tackle such big-picture thinking. Knowing who you are, what your responsibilities and roles and duties are, and what needs to be done to move each forward gives you an edge in the intuitive moment-by-moment decisions of what to do. Knowing who you are and what you are about is key to making right decisions, so it is worth the time to occasionally sit down and work through your thoughts on that higher plane.
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