Saturday, February 28, 2009

Twitter – is there value in it?

About a month ago I decided to sign up for a twitter account (1/26 to be exact after reading about it on @TaraRodden’s blog) and it has been enlightening. I had resisted Twitter for a long time because I thought it would be a waste of time. After reading Tara’s Post which showed examples of how twitter can bring you more in touch with your friends and lead to more mindful working, I figured I would give it a trial run. After signing up, it searched my Gmail address book and told me that several people I already knew were on it and following their conversations lead me to even more people. I then needed a way to post from my Blackberry and to link twitter to my Facebook account; after a quick google search I found Twitterberry and Facebook Twitter.

What do post on twitter?
  • What I am doing (When it is appropriate)
  • How I am doing (Prayer, energy level)
  • What I want (Affirmations)

What do I read on twitter?

  • The last few posts when I feel like looking at them (I do not have a built in agreement to check all updates all the time so Twitter has not become an IN (Thanks for the advice @gtdguy).
  • Replies to me (This has become an IN)
  • DM’s to me (This has become an IN as well)
  • Sometimes I check for #hashtags of my interests #GTD, #Photography, #prayer, #meditation

What value do I get out of twitter?

  • It keeps me in touch with my friends
  • It keeps me in touch with people I have wanted to form friendships but time, busyness, etc had gotten in the way.
  • It helped my blog by keeping my short observations and ideas on twitter leaving deeper and more meaningful topics to the blog
  • It helps keep me accountable and encourages me to be better

How does twitter help keep me accountable?

This is something I just stumbled onto. I noticed that a lot of my friends were posting what they were working on, where they were in GTD, prayers, etc so I started to do the same. I immediately started getting massive amounts of encouragement back from my friends. This was amazing! I would get a real boost out of the support and comments from my existing friends and new friends who stumbled up the given tweet somehow.

If I posted I was struggling with something immediately I would get advice and encouragement back. If I posted a blog that I wasn’t really excited about someone would get excited about it and post me something on twitter. This has been amazing for my motivation and helps me feel accountable for my writing, photography, and personal growth; my friends want me to succeed and I don’t want to let them down!

Where do I see twitter going?

I believe twitter will continue to do what it has been doing and I am happy with that. It will continue to:

  • Bring me into contact with new people
  • Keep me in touch with my friends and potential friends
  • Encourage my writing and personal growth
  • Surprising me

I just want to end this with a big thank you to my new big sister Tara for introducing me to Twitter, you posted that at just the right time! Twitter is an awesome tool that if used correctly can result in great networking, great friendships, true interdependance.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Taking a break

It is amazing how hard it is to just sit and do nothing. I am not talking about watching tv or surfing the internet, I am talking about really and truly doing absolutely nothing.
Try taking 5 minutes to just sit and breathe in a quiet place. Comment here on what you expereinced. Was it boring, relaxing, frustrating, or did you auccumb to temptation and end up doing something? Please share.

Brian Darnell

Thursday, February 26, 2009

an observation in prayer

I can't believe I have been forgetting to confess! I came to the realization that I haven't been confessing in prayer. No wonder I was carrying so much extra baggage! I was holding onto it rather than trusting in God's forgiveness. 

Here is a place where GTD and my religion are crossing paths. In order to attain mind like water it is to be free of big obstructions and clutter. Holding on to guilt and sin is definitely not conducive to that.

My prayer

Lord I confess that I am sinful! and I praise you for your gift of grace! 


Monday, February 23, 2009

The weekly Review - Part 4 - more weekly review - get creative and the dreaded someday/maybe list

I don't keep a Someday/Maybe list; I keep 6 (seriously). I call them Incubate.

  • Incubate - Maybe - work
  • Incubate - Maybe - Personal
  • Incubate - Someday - Work
  • Incubate - Someday - Personal
  • Incubate - Projects - Work
  • Incubate - Projects - Personal

This may seem complicated but I find it as complex as it has to be. The goal here is to expedite my weekly review. As I said in a previous post I don't do the same review every time and I don't necessarily do it 'weekly' at the set time. I do my review based on need and I base what I review on need.
I review whatever has the most resistance, doubt, lack of focus; since one of the goals of GTD is mind like water I'll put it this way, I look into my mind and whatever is surrounded by the cloudiest water, I review.

Now if my project list is cloudy even after I have developed a clear next action for each project, or if I feel overwhelmed with the list, I take projects with lower priority off of the lists. The projects then go to Incubate - Projects - (work or personal)

During the Get creative phase of the weekly review sometimes I develop projects that are outside of the scope of my current reality. These can either go in Incubate - someday (I totally plan on doing them) or incubate - maybe (maybe someday I might)

I review incubate - projects during most weekly reviews when I feel like I have a large number of completes, I review incubate - someday and incubate - maybe in my creative phase when I need ideas or when I feel extremely clear (I can see all the way to the bottom of the lake of my mind)

What the incubate lists give me over a generic someday/maybe bucket is context on what to review and when it also helps me to seperate delayed projects that aren't on my project list to free up clutter. I had found that a long someday/maybe list resisted review but several shorter lists were easier to review more often.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Listening and knowing when to talk

Matthew 10:19-20 (New International Version)

19But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

I love this verse! I re-discovered it the other day when researching "Worry". How awesome are these words to remind us how to let go in a situation and let God. Stay quiet and wait for the words rather than trying to force them. I love this.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A little about my GTD System Part 3 - more weekly review

Get current
This isn't exactly a next step but an evolution on Get Clear. I am not stopping my search to get clear; I just have emptied that level of my brain that I am not actively thinking of anything. Am I completely clear? No, my subconscious is working on many different levels on many different things and they can come up at any time. If anything comes to mind to distract me from getting current I note it on an index card or page and put it in my inbox (making sure to date it)

Usually at this stage I analyze, where am I most unclear, what is the first thing to come to mind?

It could be my Project list or it could be an NA list. If I feel like my contexts are becoming overwhelming and hard to prioritize intuitively I will go there first, if I feel like I may have a lot of open loops in projects I will review that first. Let's say I decide on projects:

My projects are categories in outlook named Projects - work and Projects - home. They are filtered by the word Projects so they display in the same view grouped by categories (separate but in the same context)

If I am reviewing projects, I am checking each project one at a time and making sure 2 things are true.

  1. Each project has a clear outcome defined. If the outcome is obvious based on what I have named the project, I move to the next project, if not I define what that is in the project notes.
  2. I have at least one action defined in an appropriate context. I will make notes in the task notes depending on what I decide, what context the NA is in (@calls, @email, @home) and the date I decided to do this. This comes in handy next week when I review again because if I calendared the NA I know this is taken care of.

If I am unclear about any NA contexts I will review those next, these are usually @home and @@@office (Multiple @ for sorting).

Once again I review each NA one at a time and this is what I am looking for:

  1. The NA is a clear next action; it is not an outcome or a project.
  2. It is associated with a project. I used to note this in the subject with RE: PROJECT NAME but now I am noting it in the contacts field (Thank you Jim McCullen) in outlook 'Project Name (I put a single quote before it so Outlook doesn't confuse it with any existing contacts)

If an NA is not associated with a project I analyze why it is in the list and if it is related to larger outcomes such as goals, roles, responsibilities, vision, or purpose. If it isn't I question why it was on there and usually delete or defer it (Sometimes these are work tasks that have been delegated that aren't related to any projects, if that is the case I connect them with the responsibility - 'Other tasks as needed. :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A little about my GTD System Part 2 0 - A bit on my weekly review

I do a weekly review once or twice a week and I don't do it on a set day. When I do a review is based on a few things.

1. My anxiety levels
2. If I ever have the thought "What exactly is the best thing to work on?" and I can't come up with an answer by looking at my lists

David Allen describes the weekly review as getting clear, getting current, and getting creative. I kind of break this into steps and at the same time I kind of don't. For example:

Get Clear
I usually start with a breathing exercise. This can be 1 or more cleansing breaths, a formal centering exercise, or maybe even a few push ups (clears my head by focusing on the physical rather than the mental, this is even better if it is a clap push up because I have to be completely present or I fall on my face). If I am not clear on which part of my system I am going to review first (yes, I base this on need, I don't do my review in the same order every time) I do a quick mind sweep, I do this either in notepad on the PC or on a memo pad (sometimes I just love the feel of pen on paper...and sometimes I hate it). This isn't a list of things to review, this is a list of things to get off my mind so I can review my system, I can add these to my system after I am done with my review, if it is bothering me that they are in my inbox I file it under mindsweep and set a next action in my @office list to process the list. I also keep a stack of index cards or a memopad handy for a mindsweep during my review, if anything interrupts me I drop it onto this sweep. I do not do my review with closed door because I consider this a test of my system and a chance to practice dealing with interruptions. This entire process takes 5-15 minutes.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Special Request - Please support my friend Tara in The Breast Cancer 3-Day

A Special Request - Please support my friend Tara in The Breast Cancer 3-Day

My amazing friend Tara is raising money to walk in The Breast Cancer 3-day. Just participating in this event requires a daunting amount of fund raising. This is an important cause to me because breast cancer is such a horrid disease that takes many lives and as taken the lives of women close to me. I understand that because of the economic times it is difficult to donate. If you could to see to donate as little as $5 it would be a great help.

Visit this URL - to donate

Please support Tara as she takes an amazing journey in the fight against breast cancer! The Breast Cancer 3-Day is a 60-mile walk over the course of three days. Net proceeds benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure and National Philanthropic Trust, funding important breast cancer research, education, screening, and treatment.Tara will be documenting her entire experience at the below blog:

Here is a link to her blog post on the subject:

Everything is Meaningless

For a while now I have been keeping a Meaning Journal. Every few days I write about meaning; what has meaning to me, how I can make meaning, and what have I done in a given day/week/month that has meant something. Yesterday while writing my meeting journal I received a nudge from God to search for the word meaning on

This is what came up for meaning:
Ecclesiastes 1:2
2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!"
says the Teacher.
"Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless."
Ecclesiastes 1. Solomon wrote that everything is meaningless; everything of this world. So, to create meaning we have to create outside of this world; witness, fill our lives with the word, and pray. This is how we create meaning in our lives because everything else is meaningless. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes as a warning to those who think they can be satisfied with what the world has to offer. Solomon had tried it all. He had taken of all the pleasures the world had to offer. He could speak with experience. All is vanity and vexation of spirit. Nothing under the sun offers any permanent profit. In the end, the wise man is he who fears God and keeps His commandments

My meaning affirmation is; I will make meaning by praying to God to help me surrender to his will and live my life to his glory. My life in this world can only have meaning through him.

I pray,

Dear Lord, please help me to live my life in a way that is pleasing to you, even when I don't want to. Please help me to desire a God pleasing life and to work towards your glory, not mine.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Surrendering exercise

Breathe in to fill your lower abdomen, then your chest, fill your entire body with energy. Focus on stretching the energy all the way to your fingertips. Close your eyes and purse your lips and blow silently. Blow gently and silently like you are trying to push an invisible bubble, visualize it moving as you breath all the air out, bow your back and pull inward into a stretch as you keep going and draw your abdomen in and get it all. Then close your mouth and let go surrender to your body and let it breath in when it wants to, when you breath in, stretch out your arms, look up, arch your back and breath out your mouth in a long hard sigh.

A little bit about my GTD system

My GTD system is a 3 tier system at the moment.

I have a dual monitor PC running Outlook 2007 (this is recent, it was outlook 2003 for a long time prior to my recent virus issues), a 4 drawer ancient metal file cabinet that was drawn out of hell (I need a nice expensive wooden one) and a metal side opening inbox which is ok (but I would like a nice wooden one here too). I file with a Brother label maker, manillla file folders (smushed into my crappy file cabinet with book ends) and capture on a yellow memo pad and index cards.

I sync outlook to a blackberry curve. I use the blackberry for processing, capture (This works pretty well and I am adamant to stick with it). The greatest thing about the blackberry is I can mobile blog with e-mail and take little pictures of things that amuse me (a cool way to capture too).

Dual monitor running Outlook 2003, a file drawer and a OLGA 4 drawer side opening cabinet, 1 folder per hanging file of course labeled with a Brother label maker. My inbox is a fake leather bound front opening inbox which I freakin love but it is wearing pretty bad. At work I capture on index cards while walking the floor and a memopad at my desk.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I rock with the Fried Catfish

I just had to show off. It came out perfect

Catfish nuggets
A pan full of piping hot oil (canola)
Gluten free all purpose flower
Chile powder
Garlic powder
Onion powder

Double bread the catfish in the breading
Cook oil till freakin hot.
Drop nuggets in oil
Cook till golden brown
Serve lemon or thousand island.

I served this tonight with pasta with scallops and vodka sauce with parmesan regiano and brussle sprouts.

Brian Darnell

Pumped! but not centered

At work today I had another experience of an energy surge triggered by completing some very large outcomes. The whole way home I felt great and energized and ready to move forward with a lot of different things. I was energized, adrenalized and excited but was I centered? No.
I received another divine tap on the shoulder and realized that I was not in a good state. My mind was racing with possibility and when I really focused my awareness on my body I realized I was in fact a little nauseated. The super adrenaline rush of finishing projects might have felt good but it wasn't conducive to mind like water. I acted fast:

  • Quick Mind sweep:
  • Install office
  • Download photos off camera
  • Process Inbox
  • Install Monitor
  • Homework
  • Blog Post (I didn't complete this one in order because waiting for office to install was the perfect time to do my blog post).

I felt reasonably clear and engaged in some meditation. I performed Eric Maisel's 6 breath, 6 thought centering exercise.

  1. (I am completely) (Stopping)
  2. (I expect) (Nothing)
  3. (I am ready) (For anything) – This entry is actually, define your work so I defined the state I wanted to be in.
  4. (I embrace)(this moment)
  5. (I trust)(my resources)
  6. (I return)(with strength)

Once finishing this, I felt good. I felt calm but still full of energy but now the energy came with focus. It was a channeled stream rather than a torrent. I then chose to follow y intuition when it came to my mind sweep, I did the first thing that came to mind, I got the monitor and hooked it up, started to install office (which is taking a while because I had to redownload from the Microsoft site), and worked on this post. I still have a few other things to do, including ones i had captured previously but the cool thing about being centered is I can choose next actions and move forward towards outcomes without concious thought, I am following my intuition.

Does this mean I don't need thought? No, I am still going to process the rest of my list and process through my inbox but now I am much more clear and current and can trust that the actions I choose are the right actions to take.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Tara just introduced me to the tool Wordle on her blog, Zugunruhe Coaching. It takes any site, jumple of words, or username and creates a collection of words which reminds me of an innovative information chocked ad or some form of Internet pop art (Interpop?). The thing that really fascinates me about it is it creates each word in different shades or colors which allows the brain to process most of the information without really having to think about it. I can sum up my site with a word-graphic and really provide a lot of information about what my site is by literally presenting random bits of information from my site. Here are a few samples I generated from Wordle.
The first few are of this site.
Wordle: Favorite
Wordle: newspress
Wordle: Interpop
Here is my page., 12hourhalfday.
This one is awesome, it is my twitter feed. Sarah is in the middle; that is awesome. :)
Wordle: Twitter

Clean your garage

Yesterday at work I hit Inbox zero (yes, it does happen on occassion). I had finished processing my e-mail, assigned tasks in my help desk queue and processed my inbox (this one is the most simple conceptually but always garners the most resistance). I was left in the eutopian world free of distraction known as mind like water for a little while and was able to move forward on a couple of key projects and set them up to move with their own momentum which should last a week or two. Big success. But what did that leave me when I went home?

A ton of extra energy, and I have to tell you it felt great. Then I walked into my bed room/office and witnessed the tornado create by myself and Sarah just going back to class and not being home as much. Laundry was everywhere, there were papers pouring out of the entertainment center, school books were all over the floor and the desk was a cluttered mess (mostly my mess too, Sarah is running 14 units so she isn't home enough to make one). What happened?

I almost took on the victim role. It was 16:30 and I had Pan-Technicon at 18:30 so I almost turned on the TV, waited till class began and left to class leaving the mess waiting for me and crowding up most of my psychic RAM. But no, I had been praying pretty hard for guidance and God tapped me on the shoulder and said "No Brian, you have 2 full hours, this is the time you never get to clean and since you were able to clean the decks at work, you have the energy to do it". And I did. And the cool thing about it was amazing creative power was released. The energy I took from work was devoted to the room which, as I made progress, released more energy inspiring me to move my computer to a night stand on the right side of my desk creating study room and room for my inbox which was previously crowded next to my noisy PC.

I finished at 18:25 and was able to make it to class with renewed energy and have enough energy to spend some time with my good friend Daniel after (And for those of you who know I am training for a run, I did not drink any beer) and was inspired to practice some Iaido.

So this is a great example of a David Allen principle. "A surefire way to inspire a creative visions is to clean your garage...closet, desk, room, etc"

Monday, February 2, 2009


Let's see how often Sarah reads my blog. I am outside her classroom waiting with a rose. Boy I love this over the top mushy stuff.

Brian Darnell

New revised purpose statement

My good friend Barb worked with me and inspired me to revise my purpose yet again.
After she reviewed it the thing she mentioned that clicked in my brains was, "does it make you cry? (Happy cry)" and it didn"t. It didn't effect me emotionally at all, it only made sense logically. So I thought about it and realized it needed to be much more personal and from the heart. I thought about the things that get an emotional reaction from me and wrote a new statement.
Here it is:
I live my life prayerfully, mindfully, thankfully, and joyfully, trying my best not to make mistakes and accepting that I am human. I work to document the beauty and meaning in the world around me. I work to help cure breast cancer and be an inspiration to others. I do my best to honor those that have brought me success and remember those that I have loved that are gone. I work on a balanced and healthy life style and thank God for what I have, what I have done, who I have, and what will happen good and bad.

Thanks for the help Barb! That was awesome coaching.

Brian Darnell