I’ve been turning and burning today on getting back on the GTD wagon.Â Mainly, because I need it to preserve my sanity.Â I mentioned to a coworker last week that a year ago, I had probably almost twice as much “stuff” on my plate, and half as much stress about it because I was keeping things processed in the system.
So today I had a big A-HAÂ moment regarding the best way for me to implement GTD at work (and I find that once I have my “stuff” together in one area of my life, the rest of the ducks quickly fall into line behind Momma.)Â And in doing that, I realized that processing your “stuff” is basically defining your territory.Â Defining your territory, the stuff you’re responsible for, is important because you can’t defend what you can’t define.Â And not knowing whether or not you’re covering the ground you’re supposed to will make you crazy.Â Welcome to anxiety central, population me.
You can’t defend what you can’t define.Â Wow, there are a LOT of areas of life where that little catchy sentence applies, aren’t there?
It reminds me of my good friend K, who is in fact probably the best Bible scholar I personally know.Â In his class onÂ Ephesians, about the full armor of God and spiritual warfare, he kept pointing out that all we’re really required to do is stand.Â Stand firm, hold our ground, and defend our two-by-two spot in the formation.Â We run into trouble when we break formation and start trying to defend ground that isn’t really ours to defend.Â When we do that, we leave ourselves exposed.
Which reminded me of Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend.Â Maintaining good boundaries in relationships is about knowing the difference between “knapsacks” and “boulders.”Â “Knapsacks” are the small things that are an individual’s “stuff” to carry.Â Their ordinary, daily, personal responsibilities.Â When we try to carry someone else’s knapsack, we’re keeping them from being responsible for themselves, and we weaken them.Â Carrying our own knapsack is how we build up strength of character.
Boulders are different.Â Boulders are situations that we’re not supposed to carry alone.Â These are those huge, hard situations that teach us that no person is an island, and drive us to admit we need help, we need community, and we need God.Â We run into trouble when we either refuse to carry our own knapsacks, insist on carrying someone else’s knapsack, or refuse to ask for and accept help with our boulders.Â Or when we can’t tell the difference between a knapsack and a boulder.
Boundaries define the knapsacks and boulders that are ours, and those which belong to others.Â They help us define the territory we’re responsible for defending.Â But we get overwhelmed with all the “stuff” in our lives, and rather than sort through it all (process it) and decide what’s ours, what’s someone else’s, and what we need to ask for help with, we just avoid it.Â Try not to think about it–and in doing so, end up thinking about it at a low level constantly.
The stuff we refuse to deal with becomes this constant mental noise, cutting us off from the real signals.Â And we get stuck.Â Immobilized.
Which is where I’ve been for a while, and I don’t like it one bit. Â Time to get unstuck.Â Wish me luck.