OPW#1.01 Sorting Chaos Into Working Order

QUOTE Sorting Chaos Into Working Order

Class #1. Orientation to Pastoral Work (July)
Methodology (1st hour):
Tasks: Time Management, Getting Things Done (GTD) File System, Autofocus.
Homework: Set up your personal organization system.

Every commitment unfinished is an “open loop”; and when it is tracked in your psyche, instead of your system, it will require energy and attention to track and maintain. Once the open loops are captured, you can manage completion by using an external system that takes much less energy than keeping it in your head. Every commitment unfinished requires management in a trusted system until it is done or discontinued. — David Allen (GTD) [1]

Life comes to us like a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces mixed up in a box. It takes time and effort and careful thought to put the puzzle together and transform it from a pile of disconnected, chaotic pieces into a clear picture that is initially hidden in the disorder. Each piece is taken from the box, one at a time, and sorted by its characteristics; as the pieces are ordered, the place where each piece fits together becomes clear.

It’s not hard to do with all the pieces spread out on a common table, all in sight. 

The photo is entitled 18000 “Ravensburger Magical Bookcase. Day 1.” The puzzle is available for $133.67 from Amazon and has 18,000 pieces; the completed puzzle is 109×75.5 inches … a little less than 10 feet wide by a little more than 6 feet high.

It’s likely that your life is just like that puzzle, only with each piece scattered all over your life as if distributed by a small tornado. It’s harder if all the pieces are scattered throughout the house, some hidden and many missing. Perhaps the missing pieces are in the pockets of what you wore yesterday. Or in a drawer, or mixed up in a box with the pieces of another puzzle. Or at work, in the car under the passenger seat. Or being chewed by the dog or buried in the back yard. You need to get all of those pieces in one place if you plan to put them all together in a way that makes sense.

Now – let’s imagine that many of the puzzle pieces of your life exist only in your mind – how many can you remember? And visualize? Such is life – a puzzle, with the pieces scattered and chaotic.

Let’s put the puzzle together. Let’s begin to sort the chaos into an order that makes sense.

First, we gather all the pieces that we can find and put them in one place. 

Second, the missing pieces that exist in our mind … we need to make them real and add them to the box. We need to capture them and put them into a concrete form for sorting along with the other pieces. We’re smart … but we’re not smart enough to keep everything in our mind. Each thought we capture by writing it down declutters our mental workspace and allows us to focus more clearly.

The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory.
Ever made a mental note … and lost it?

The mind is for having ideas not holding them. — David Allen (GTD). We need to use our minds to put the puzzle together and free up thinking capacity that is wasted on trying to remember all the missing pieces.

GTD or “Getting Things Done” is one means to sort all the puzzle pieces that are the chaos that life can become. Just like a puzzle, everything in our life fits together in some orderly way in God’s design. But if the pieces are all jumbled together and mixed up, and if many of them are ideas that we have difficulty remembering, it will be hard to discover the final picture where everything fits together.

GTD provides a temporary solution to the interference of two psychological realities, the Zeigarnik effect and the Ovsiankina effect, which interfere with clear thinking. The Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeigarnik_effect] The Ovsiankina effect is the tendency to pick up an interrupted action again when it has still not been achieved. The effect states that an interrupted task, even without incentive, values as a “quasi-need”. It creates intrusive thoughts, aimed at taking up the task again. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ovsiankina_effect] Consequently, uncompleted tasks (David Allen’s “open loops”) continually distract us from concentrating on setting things in order. The higher the pile of semi-completed tasks, the less able we are to focus on anything because we are continually mentally multitasking with tasks we never complete.

GTD allows sorting all of our uncompleted tasks into a variety of parking places for later action; the act of parking a task in a trusted system provides enough of a sense of completion to allow us to concentrate undistracted on other tasks. When all tasks are in place in a trusted system, we can have a clear mind, which David Allen describes as “a mind like water.” [https://zenhabits.net/mind-like-water/ https://throughyourbody.com/david-allen-mind-water/]

NOTE (my response)




All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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