In the video I've mentioned in a few recent posts (Wisdom in Daily Life), Eckhart states that people spend 70% of their lives waiting for something, in anticipation of the next event...the future...there's always something that needs to happen...never happy with where they are. This time what he said did not bring to mind Bible verses...but rather, I thought of something from the OCD side of my egoic self...the organizer side...the side that believes if I can just find the right combination of plastic storage containers (I love plastic storage containers) it will set my life aright and all will be well. Of course this will need to be supplemented with just the right planner!!!
David Allen has a system that millions of people buy into....live by. There are hundreds...perhaps thousands ...of web sites that "preach" the system. The book that launched it all is called "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. The main tenants of his system? The categories for "getting things done?" Well, at first glance, they seem to directly contradict Eckhart's teachings about staying in the now and being present...but after doing some research, I am not so sure. The four categories David Allen suggests sorting everything from one's inbox into are
- Next Action
- Waiting For
The mental angst of having too many thoughts and to do's and what about's (referred to as "stuff") whirling around in our brains is discussed in a post called Getting Started With Getting Things Done on a productivity blog called 43 Folders.
The Problem with “stuff”
Getting Things Done succeeds because it first addresses a critical barrier to completing the atomic tasks that we want to accomplish in a given day. That’s “stuff.” Amorphous, unactionable, flop-sweat-inducing stuff. David says:
Here’s how I define “stuff:” anything you have allowed into your psychological or physical world that doesn’t belong where it is, but for which you haven’t yet determined the desired outcome and the next action step. [pg. 17]
Stuff is bouncing around in our heads and causing untold stress and anxiety. Evaluation meetings, bar mitzvahs, empty rolls of toilet paper, broken lawn mowers, college applications, your big gut, tooth decay, dirty underwear and imminent jury duty all compete for prime attention in our poor, addled brains. Stuff has no “home” and, consequently, no place to go, so it just keeps rattling around.
Worst off, we’re too neurotic to stop thinking about it, and we certainly don’t have time to actually do everything in one day. Jeez Louise, what the hell am I, Superman?
So you sprint from fire to fire, praying you haven’t forgotten anything, sapped of anything like creativity or even the basic human flexibility to adapt your own schedule to the needs of your friends, your family or yourself. Your “stuff” has taken over your brain like a virus now, dragging down every process it touches and rendering you spent and virtually useless. Sound familiar?
On one of the Oprah webinars I heard Eckhart acknowledge the need for planning. There is a time and a place to plan. Our minds, he says, are a useful tool for just such tasks as planning. And it seems that proper planning might actually free us up to be present, in the now...and not lost in some future "have to do".
I started writing this post to illustrate how at odds these two "philosophies" are but now I am not so sure that the one does not complement the other.
The following quote is from an article in Wired Magazine called Getting Things Done Guru David Allen and His Cult of Hyper Efficiency:
Allen says his goal is to be free from worrying about anything he has to do. His techniques allow him the pleasure of having, much of the time, nothing on his mind. "People are afraid of the void, afraid of negative space," he says. "But having nothing on your mind is one of the most awesome experiences."
And wouldn't Eckhart agree?