On Creating Space

Rocky Face Mountain Recreation Area
Hiddenite, NC

What do you do to unplug?
How do you stay connected with yourself and your Creator?

One of the greatest, simple pleasures of my life is walking.

If I am not walking, then I am not writing, because I have not completed my thought process.

And even though I enjoy getting out into the wild, for me, creating breathing room is much more about finding inside space than outside space. I walk until I am still. I walk until I can rest. I walk until I find myself in His presence. I am at home in wood or neighborhood and am often found walking in either place.

My hope is to whet your appetite with some personal photos accompanied by some of my favorite excerpts from Thoreau’s Walking. Make the time – create the room – to work on your inside space and find rest in God’s presence.

Unplug from the gadgets and busyness and reconnect with Life.

Keep thinking! Continue reading …

Regaining Balance

Ben Earwicker
Garrison Photography, Boise, ID

I have been working with my wife on achieving balance in my life. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude for everything she is and everything she does for me. Besides being the love of my life, she is my trusted sounding board for all of my crazy ideas. She gives me great feedback and has learned when to push and when to give space.

She is not shy about pointing out that I have a problem in finding work/life balance. The question I haven’t figured out is Why? I guess I’ll have to leave that to my betters (although without understanding why, I feel that I lack the appropriate tool to analyze what is really going on with me.).

In his material, Neil Anderson has expressed the basic human needs as identity, significance, acceptance and security. I’m sure that a key is in there somewhere. A job can can give the illusion of meeting these needs, especially in areas where we have worked hard to gain expertise and are valued and complimented on successes. Perhaps it is OK to say that a job does cover some of the ground in meeting these needs. If your work place makes you feel insignificant and anonymous, insecure and disconnected to yourself and your passion; it’s time to move on.

Part of the problem is this: I don’t usually feel as if my life is out of balance. I chalk it up to working in a demanding area. One can admit there is a problem – the evidence is there, your most trusted friend confirms it – but you don’t live in a constant awareness of it, so you easily fall back into your habitual patterns.

I know I’m not alone. What to do?

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

An Easter Evaluation

Oak Tree on snowy Fields at Sunset

Sometimes my wife, Rose, and I have intense discussions about how awesome of a husband I am. Well, actually, that’s usually my side of the argument. Her side can sound a little different. I am learning that I don’t get to decide how good I am doing, she does. Her side usually includes challenging my schedule and words like “never at home” seem to often get repeated. Submitting to that evaluation can be tough. It makes me feel exposed and vulnerable.

In the beginning of The Book of Revelation, Jesus is evaluating His bride. If I stood before Jesus and He recognized my hard work, tenacity, support and fortitude; I’d feel pretty good. I put a high premium on hard work and finishing tasks. The Church at Ephesus had all these positives, but Jesus commanded them to repent. Why?
Although they were busy, they stopped loving.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

Lessons I’ve Learned: Get Organized

“You can fool everyone else, but you can’t fool your own mind.” David Allen

Next to ownership, the most important job a knowledge worker does is organization. I thought I was good at managing my to do list until I had a huge annual conference added to my plate. I needed help. I was struggling to remember all of my commitments. As one of my favorite proverbs goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

My teacher was David Allen and the GTD (Getting Things Done) system. I was listening to the 43 folders podcast by Merlin Mann and he interviewed David Allen about GTD. It had such a profound affect on me, I still remember where I was: my wife, Rose, was shopping at a bead and jewelry expo in San Antonio and I was pacing around the parking lot, smoking my pipe, devouring the podcasts. (It’s a good memory!)

GTD is a systematic process of capturing all of the variety of things you need to do (from other people and your own ideas), making a decision about what those things mean to you, planning how you are going to accomplish them, and reviewing everything until it is done. David calls these steps: collect, process, organize, review, do.

Here are some of my favorite ideas from GTD I’ve come to think of as my own:

  1. Your mind is great for creative brainstorming and generating ideas. Your mind is like a drunken uncle when it comes to remembering those ideas. Free your mind and write ideas down so you don’t have to remember them.
  2. Almost everything you do is a project (most tasks are actually a series of tasks). Outcome based thinking will help you be more productive. Defining the finished project will help you figure out the details that get you there. No one can do a “project”, you can only do smaller tasks that lead to the outcome you defined.
  3. Dividing your work by contexts removes stress. A context is a noun–a person, place, or thing. At work is not the place to think about something I have to discuss with my wife, just like driving in the car is the wrong time to think about the phone calls I have to make. That is how our minds work, but putting those tasks into the proper context, and following through, trains your mind to stop obsessing at the wrong time and place and trust the system.

Although it is common sense, GTD breaks down the barrier between what you know you should do and what you are actually doing. Like any skill, it takes discipline. It is easy to fall off the wagon, but it is easy to get back up and keep going, too.

It can be helpful for everyone on your team to have the same system, but it is not necessary. You need a system to keep track of all of your commitments. You cannot be successful if you are not executing your responsibilities. To do that well, you must be organized.

Here is a short summary of GTD by David Allen with some helpful links on the side.

Here is the Productive Talk Compilation podcast with Merlin Mann and David Allen.