The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Tasks Versus Relationships

It's funny how ideas for blog posts come to you. I have multiple drafts of articles I would like to write sitting in MarsEdit, and I always set a goal to complete one of them on any given day. But nine times out of ten some random thought will hit me while in the shower or out for a run and that's what I'll end up writing about. I guess most people would call that inspiration or creative juices etc. And that's one of the big reasons I started this blog—to start working on my creative muscles.

I preface tonight's post with this explanation because that's how this post came to be. I was out for a run tonight and started thinking about some of the articles I wanted to finish up very soon. This past week I've been focused on GTD and it's close cousin, simplification. I've already simplified the hardware in my life by simply removing mostly everything I owned except for my Macbook and it's accessories. Last week I did the same with my software. You see, I am an application polygamist. Desktop or web-based software, I like to try it all and grow my harem. Seriously though, I realize that I've invested a lot of time in applications I will never use, nor even have a use for. It was time to simplify.

More to follow on that thought soon.

The Struggle

So while running this evening I started thinking again about what it really means to follow the concepts that make up GTD. And how that fits with being a christian. One is focused on tasks and the completion thereof (on the surface at least). The other is focused on relationships. My relationship with God, and my relationships with my fellow man. I started wondering if these two seeming opposites could be reconciled.

If you closely examine the life of Christ, you see that He was never focused on tasks. At least not earthly ones. He was always on the lookout for the next opportunity to glorify Himself and His Father. Doing so almost always took the form of performing miracles—healing the sick, feeding the poor or raising the dead. And above all giving hope.

But when it came to things like stopping at the market to get some food or to be at the synagogue for a speaking engagement, He invested little to no thought or energy (sometimes much to the chagrin of His disciples and followers). He went out of His way to seek out less fortunate souls who needed His message. He was clearly focused on relationships.

So why am I even worrying about this whole topic? Because I know myself. Let me explain.

When I'm at work and getting things done, if someone knocks at the door, my initial, automatic reaction is annoyance at the interruption. And I often struggle to think to myself, "How can I meet this person's need and how can I communicate God's love to them?" There is no doubt that it's necessary to invest time and energy into my job, my home and the other areas in my life that require work. And it's also okay to try to get that work done in an organized fashion. But when it becomes the number one priority, then it's a problem.

But It's the Man, Not the Tools

I've thought this idea through a lot in the last year and I know that GTD is not the problem. It's me. Over the years I've grown into this task based person.

But in fact, when you look closely at the concepts of GTD, it fits the needs of anyone. Just look at the title of David's book - "Getting Things Done - The Art of Stress Free Productivity." David recognized that we are in a time when information comes at people faster and in greater quantities than they can handle. This will inevitably stress us out. The whole purpose of GTD is to reduce that stress.

A Christians first resource for stress relief and perspective should clearly be God. But we can also apply the concepts of GTD and benefit from the results. Making the best use of my time to complete tasks means less stress. Less stress means better relationships. And that's what being a Christian should always be about - serving the needs of others, even above our own.

So I've enjoyed my week of pruning and look forward to publishing some more GTD/simplification focused content very soon.

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