Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Overwhelm After the Epic Trip, GTD, & Where God Fits In

For those of you that don't know; I just returned from a fantastic trip across 2 weeks, 8 states, 4 national parks, countless cities, and much more. We clocked 4,125.2 awesome miles and we are home!

I had an amazing time as my Mom and I traveled by car; camping, and moteling (thank God for the new. Amazing, and reimagined Motel 6) to the Hoover Dam, beautiful St. George Utah, Bryce National Park, Salt Lake City Utah, Pocatello Idaho, Jackson Hole Wyoming, the Grand Tetons National Park, Yellow Stone (amazing, amazing Yellowstone), West Yellowstone Montana, Pendleton Oregon, Portland Oregon (to visit my wonderful friend Heather), Coos Bay Oregon, Redwood National and State Parks, Eureka and Arcata California (the home of Humboldt Fog cheese! (I ate 6oz)), the beautiful Redwoods in Boulder Creek California (the home of my wonderful cousin Theresa and her husband Rich), and the fabulous journey home, down the coast through Big Sur, Pismo Beach, and Solvang (which was beautiful and interesting yet completely closed at that time of night).

And now I am home.

Where my life hits me like a freight train of bills (kept up with most on the trip but still need to do a lot of reconciling and planning for future stuff), responsibilities , roles (photographer, writer, student, future pastor, gamer, son, friend, etc), correspondence (with friends new and old), books to read (fun , gaming, and educational), shows to watch (evil, evil DVR), movies to see (Cowboys and Aliens, and Captain America (saw Harry Potter and Friends with Benefits on trip), friends to catch up with, hobbies ( gaming, photography, reading, personal studies, etc), hiking (like I didn't get enough on my trip but I could never get enough), exercise (2 mud runs to train for), blogs to keep up with (like this one and my Weight Watchers Blog), Online Communities (Facebook and the groups on there, GTDVSG (yes I am coming back), school (it only starts in two weeks), events and trips coming up (yes, I am planning on doing more stuff), household chores (the joy of moving back home), keeping up with people met on the trip and sending all the photos I took of people back to them (I collect photos of people taking photos, another hobby), and a slew of projects and ideas I am working on and/or plan on working on.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you became overwhelmed by reading the above paragraph, you can imagine what it is like for me, but fortunately I am not overwhelmed, overloaded or panicking because I have the tool of GTD. To save the time of explaining what that is to people who don't know, read about GTD here.

To sum it up simply, the joy of GTD is that it lets me collect all of my open loops into one place to get them off my mind; I spend some time gathering them into a bin, then spend more time processing through that bin to do, defer, or delete each thing one at a time. I keep my processed outcomes in a system (I use rmilk) that I trust that will be there to let me do everything at the best time for me to do it.

Is my life perfect because of GTD? No, not at all, it is just a tool I use to relieve the burden of overwhelm. I do let things build up and overwhelm me at times because I can't be perfectly in control all the time, I need flexibility to breathe within my system. A friend of mine asked me about it while I was on vacation and when I explained it she said, "It is like an obsession then?" A lot of people have brought this up to people who practice GTD and the answer is ultimately no. It may appear as an obsession to some but it is not that, but then what is it?

It is a discipline and it is a practice. GTD is a collection of methods aimed at helping people remove the junk from their heads to eliminate the stress of productivity and accentuate the product of that activity. David Allen (the creator of GTD, if you skipped the link I posted earlier) coined the phrase that it lets us win at the game of work and the business of life.

If you read my blog you may be wondering where prayer comes into the equation in all this. For me, nothing starts without God and GTD isn't any different. While overwhelm is starting to build, I am getting ready to collect open loops, I am processing through my inbox, I am planning projects, or I am doing the things on my various lists, God's embrace is right around me and I wouldn't be able to do complete my next actions without him.

My prayer this morning when the overwhelm became evident:

Father God, I really want to sink my teeth into this mess of stuff but I don't know where to start. I am completely helpless, unmotivated, overloaded, overwhelmed, and everything seems huge and unmovable. What do I do?

His answer for me was the immediate realization that I had to empty my brain onto paper and start collecting open loops and then to write and post this article. This post is part of my process. God brought the practice of GTD to me, I don't doubt it and when I need it he reminds me that I have the tools to be the captain and commander of my life

My prayer now:

Dear Lord,

I am a pitiful sinner and am completely unworthy of all the gifts you have given me. Due to the power of your love and your death on the cross I am worthy and able to be your child. Father, I pray to you to thank you for your love, for your creation, and for the ability to have a relationship with you. Thank you for my life, good and bad. As I collect my open loops, process through my lists, plan my projects, and complete next actions; please fill me with your holy spirit and give me the guidance to follow your will and the strength and courage to follow through with it. I love you Lord and I thank you again from the bottom of my heart.


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