All of the Voices in My Head (getting organized)

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I’m on an organization kick right now. Every once in a while I go through this. I spend a few days trying to wrap my brain around a new system for task management, etc., etc., etc. It’s been a long time since I’ve done this. Probably since before I was sick.

Now for me, being a complete geek, getting organized means finding some nice computer program to help me. I’ve tried Things and Omnifocus this time around. They would both work well, but I’m going with things.

The whole process, though, has really gotten me thinking about the process of managing information, and what that means for mental health. If you’re like me, there are a thousand things going through your brain at any given time. I run around putting out fires, trying to stay one step ahead of disaster in all of the spheres or realms that I operate. Church, home, school, opera, DOXOLOGY, Higher Things, and who knows what else. With each of these comes big tasks and little tasks. Projects and emails and phone calls and meetings and contacts and people and jobs…you get the idea.

I had a revelation a couple days ago that part of the reason why I go into mental shut down is that I am trying to remember and juggle all this stuff in my head. Whatever seems the most pressing at the moment is what gets the attention. What that usually means is that my own health and well-being ends up last, until I crash and have to recharge.

Furthermore, these lists and piles and STUFF literally keeps me up at night. I’m so afraid of forgetting something that I can concentrate on nothing.

I’m no expert, but this just doesn’t seem like a good pattern to me.

So what I’m trying to do is a few simple steps to help me keep my sanity. Here’s my list so far:

1. Deal with things as they come in. Do it now, schedule it later, give it to someone else, or delete it.

2. Don’t allow lingering projects to just hang out there. Resolve them as much as possible.

3. Actually plan for relaxation time. I wish this were not necessary, but it really really is.

4. Schedule time for prayer and meditation. If I don’t have that as a regular part of my routine, it simply never happens. If it is a choice, as often as not I will choose no.

That’s the start of my list. So far it’s been helpful, but it is a tough road.

What do you think? How do you keep the voices in your head from driving you mad?

-DMR

14 thoughts on “All of the Voices in My Head (getting organized)”

  1. Just out of curiosity, did you ever read or listen to David Allen, GTD? I think that his system is an attempt to quiet the voices and give some perspective. Certainly not perfect, but I think, vocationally, he has a point. He says you cannot keep stuff in your head, it will keep nagging you etc. Got to put it somewhere, where you will not lose it, and where you will review and put it into a place where it can be worked on etc.

  2. Just out of curiosity, did you ever read or listen to David Allen, GTD? I think that his system is an attempt to quiet the voices and give some perspective. Certainly not perfect, but I think, vocationally, he has a point. He says you cannot keep stuff in your head, it will keep nagging you etc. Got to put it somewhere, where you will not lose it, and where you will review and put it into a place where it can be worked on etc.

  3. You won't like my answer……I've deleted my involvement in organizations and activities away from home. Its a wonderful freedom!! And, less stress (and, voices) from dealing with people. Hooray!!

    On a different subject……I'm reading the book "Acedia" by Kathleen Norris. You may not agree completely with her theology, but she offers keen insights on the subject of depression…….and "spiritual sloth".

  4. You won't like my answer……I've deleted my involvement in organizations and activities away from home. Its a wonderful freedom!! And, less stress (and, voices) from dealing with people. Hooray!!

    On a different subject……I'm reading the book "Acedia" by Kathleen Norris. You may not agree completely with her theology, but she offers keen insights on the subject of depression…….and "spiritual sloth".

  5. I don't have much problem with 1, 2, and 4. And I've keep putting activities on the chopping block, as Jeanelle said. The thing I really struggle with is 3 — planning for relaxation. If I don't plan it, I always hoard it in snippets of less-than-refreshing ways, and end up accomplishing little and still not feeling rested. That work ethic that was instilled in me just won't let go!

    The other thing that I'm struggling with is slowing down with age. I used to be able to keep track of more things in my brain. I used to be able to accomplish tasks in less time. And my body didn't tire as quickly. So now a gardening job that "should" take an hour takes three. Or washing the sheets and changing the bedding takes practically the whole day, where it used to be one thing on a list of many chores for the day.

    I manage information by lists, lists, and more lists. As long as I manage to keep track of the lists, I'm okay. But once I lose a list, then the pressure is back to try to hold it all in my head and prioritize it, and then act on what needs to be done while remembering all the parts to the job and remembering the other 847 items still on the to-do list.

  6. I don't have much problem with 1, 2, and 4. And I've keep putting activities on the chopping block, as Jeanelle said. The thing I really struggle with is 3 — planning for relaxation. If I don't plan it, I always hoard it in snippets of less-than-refreshing ways, and end up accomplishing little and still not feeling rested. That work ethic that was instilled in me just won't let go!

    The other thing that I'm struggling with is slowing down with age. I used to be able to keep track of more things in my brain. I used to be able to accomplish tasks in less time. And my body didn't tire as quickly. So now a gardening job that "should" take an hour takes three. Or washing the sheets and changing the bedding takes practically the whole day, where it used to be one thing on a list of many chores for the day.

    I manage information by lists, lists, and more lists. As long as I manage to keep track of the lists, I'm okay. But once I lose a list, then the pressure is back to try to hold it all in my head and prioritize it, and then act on what needs to be done while remembering all the parts to the job and remembering the other 847 items still on the to-do list.

  7. I second the vote for David Allen's system, from his book Getting Things Done. I have been implementing it in stages, and I agree with Dave. When he says that the advantage to this is NOT having to have things in your mind, he is right.

  8. I second the vote for David Allen's system, from his book Getting Things Done. I have been implementing it in stages, and I agree with Dave. When he says that the advantage to this is NOT having to have things in your mind, he is right.

  9. I've done the back and forth between organization/GTD apps and I too have settled on Things (for Mac and iPhone). I've been pretty happy with it so far.

    I don't know what it's like to be any kind of office exec or other professional who would have a similar kind of workload to a pastor, but it seems to me that the comprehensive nature of the ministry just begs for the kind of organization that keeps us from having our heads explode with all the oversight, planning, projects, ideas, relationships.

    Looking forward to reading the book.

  10. I've done the back and forth between organization/GTD apps and I too have settled on Things (for Mac and iPhone). I've been pretty happy with it so far.

    I don't know what it's like to be any kind of office exec or other professional who would have a similar kind of workload to a pastor, but it seems to me that the comprehensive nature of the ministry just begs for the kind of organization that keeps us from having our heads explode with all the oversight, planning, projects, ideas, relationships.

    Looking forward to reading the book.

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