I am so used to writing about all of the things that can create sanctuary in our homes. It’s so very important for these amazing times we’re living in.
But, today I want to share something with you that is a fundamental sanctuary practice for my mind. I use it to keep me sane, to keep me organized, and to keep me in a space of relaxed control, even in a pandemic.
This sanctuary gem is my productivity system. We all have ways of keeping track of the commitments we make to others and more importantly to ourselves. But I want to share mine with you, in case you’d like to do a little improving in your own system or maybe just start one at long last.
My productivity system came from a book my husband introduced me to called Getting Things Done by David Allen. He’s not one of Philip’s relatives, although Philip dearly wishes he was. David Allen is a much-revered name in our household.
I’m not going to tell you how to create a GTD system for yourself here—there are many resources online and in print to show you how to do that. In fact, I’m going to offer you my favorite one for free below. What I want to talk about is why you should create a system for yourself, and how it has helped me navigate all of the curve balls life has thrown at me over the past five years I’ve been using it.
1. Getting some peace of mind
Every item that should go on a to-do list is a commitment we’re making to ourselves or others. Our brains keep track of these and randomly spring them on us when we’re least expecting it—in the shower, at 3 AM, or when we’re trying to meditate.
That part of the mind is actually trying to help, and I think it has figured out that when we get quiet enough, during times like sleep or meditation or a hot shower, that’s the perfect time to remind us of all of those things we committed to that we are in danger of forgetting.
Getting all of these commitments written down or recorded somewhere they won’t be forgotten or disregarded gives our minds permission to stop reminding us about them. This is a big step toward peace of mind. Simple, right?
2. Being present
When we truly show up where we are, magic happens. Philip calls this “feeling the texture of the present moment.” I love that phrase. This is when we are able to put all of the thoughts inside our head to rest, at least for a few moments, and be mindful of what is happening within us and around us.
Entire philosophies have evolved to help us cultivate the habit of mindfulness. I believe my system has also helped. I don’t have to worry about remembering to do some small errand to move one of my projects forward. It’s in my system. I’ve got this. I can relax and be open to showing up fully in the present moment.
3. Greater connection with the Universe
When we are bothered by the myriad of things we have to do we are not open to what we might hear from that inner voice that speaks so softly. The noise in our heads can be so loud that it drowns out that delicate inner sensitivity.
With the devotion I have to my system and the discipline I have developed in using it, that noise dies down. I am more readily able to discern what that still, small voice is saying when I need it most. In this way, it has improved my relationship with my own intuition!
This also leads to greater creativity, which truthfully deserves its own point here. I could go on for ages about how my GTD system clears the way for me to be more creative in every aspect of my life.
4. Greater connection with others
This past week I listened in on Philip coaching one of our new employees in creating and using their own GTD system. He shared a story from earlier that day: he had just finished a series of Zoom meetings and had captured every new initiative and to-do that came out of them.
He had just wrapped capturing his commitments when a family friend called him about some routine thing, but Philip sensed that something was wrong and inquired if everything was alright.
I listened as Philip explained to our new employee that because he had his system in place and had all of his commitments captured in it, he could put all of it aside for a few minutes and focus entirely on listening, empathy, and offering support for someone we care deeply about. His point was that having a system like this allowed him to be more fully available to the people around him. I’ve found this to be true for myself on a thousand different occasions.
He summed it up like this: “Having a system like this in place can help us be better human beings, and help us more easily bring the fruits of sanctuary to the lives of those around us.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
5. Greater productivity
I almost forgot to include that yes, having a productivity system does help me get more done. I am more responsive to the needs of our community, our team, our clients, my husband, my children, and even our dogs. While this is touted as the primary benefit of my GTD system, I find that this is just one of the many ways this practice has positively impacted my life.
Get started the easy way
I cannot recommend David Allen’s book Getting Things Done enough. I don’t love many business books, but I do love this one. I think one of the reasons is that it isn’t built from theory. It’s built from David’s personal experience in his own life and in his own company, and the best practices he’s put to use consulting with Fortune 500 executives over his illustrious career.
And I have a gift for you! Philip has put together a document called “GTD in 3 Minutes”—a quick introduction to getting started with your own GTD system. He’s happy to be able to share it with the sanctuary community, and I would love for you to have it.
If I could just give you the clarity and peace of mind I get from my GTD system, I would give it to everyone I know. But, like most worthwhile things, this is a gift you must give yourself. I hope this PDF helps you get started.
I hope you’ll give it a try, and share your experiences and questions with everyone in the comments. I’ll be happy to answer and support you on this journey if you wish to take it.
With big love and gratitude,