Oct 312009

3088163662_f0df4f9508I’m the kind of person who likes some spontaneity in my life. I don’t like schedules. I don’t like a to-do list. I want to be free to do whatever strikes me.  So, for many years, I resisted using a planner or organizer.

Finally, I was at a seminar where Hyrum Smith taught how to use a day-planner. I started using one, and I have to admit that it was one of the best changes I ever made. My ability to remember things and accomplish my goals and tasks dramatically improved. But I still thought of it as a compromise of my artistic,  spontaneous principles.

Finally, I read David Allen’s book – Getting Things Done – known in the organizational community as GTD. His explanations of the need for an organizational system finally penetrated my philosophical resistance.  Allen explained the psychology of organization.  Suppose you have an upcoming appointment or a critical task – and you have NOT written it down in a trustworthy system.  Even if you are not consciously worried about it, there will be some part of your  mind that KNOWS you have that appointment, and is always worried about whether you will remember it.  There will be a subtle background of stress and worry, even if you aren’t completely aware of it. And that stress and worry will make it harder for you to relax or to devote all your mind to creating and producing anything.

On the other hand, if you have a reliable system for capturing those appointments and tasks, and if you have captured them, and if your mind KNOWS that – at the right time, your system will remind you – then you can relax. Your mind will be free to relax, enjoy life and create wonderful things – the moment it knows it can trust your external system to bring things to your attention. The trick is to get everything OUT of your mind and INTO your external system.

Look at it this way. If I have a planner, and I book an appointment for two weeks from now, and I know that I will check that planner every day – then I can completely forget about that appointment until two weeks from now. On the other hand, if I don’t have a planner or other system, then some part of my mind will occupy itself – for two whole weeks, with trying to remember the appointment.

You don’t use organizational systems and planners so that you can obsess about things. You use them so that you can put things out of your mind until absolutely necessary. Organization frees the space for spontaneity.

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