A couple of weeks ago we caught most of an NPR NOW (sirius radio 122) broadcast of “Relaxed Focus” with David Allen (http://humanmedia.org) as we drove down I-81 (through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia). He had some interesting ideas.

Perhaps I can get better at organizing stuff, deciding what needs to be done with something and then letting go until I am in a place to deal with it. Sounds good. Sounds even better to decide whether I want to keep getting email from certain lists that require my attention or should I just unsubscribe and be done with it. It sounds good to get control of “stuff” that can clog the brain/mind and free up the mind to be present in the moment.

As I listened, I found myself thinking how nice it is when I get things cleaned up, named, organized, and put out of my mind. I thought of the times in my life when I felt overwhelmed and immobilized because I couldn’t even decide what action I wanted to take. My mind would race all night. I would wake up and be unable to quiet my mind. One technique that helped was to drag out rosary beads. As I started a decade, instead of meditating on a prescribed mystery, I would name one of the issues that wouldn’t leave me alone and hand it over to Mary or Jesus or God (depended on how I felt); by the end of a decade, I could often let go of that one thing; then, I repeat the process with the next thought/problem that was racing through my head; over and over until I could sleep for a bit. Using rosary beads freed me up from any kind of counting — just repeat Hail Mary until my fingers told me I was done with the particular thought.

And so, I do understand the joy of organizing things, deciding on an action and relying on a system to tell me when I was done, or ready to move to the next thing. This frees me up to deal with other, larger, issues. But, it’s not just letting go that helps. Naming the problem/issue/desire means that I no longer let it control me. There is a certain release in a “tag and bag” approach to those mundane things that have to be done.

Now, it’s been well over a week since I listened to that radio show and this week I find myself in Nike mode: Just Do It! That applies to little things like sweeping the hall, mopping the foyer, pitching the mail. Not big stuff, but getting it decided on and done certainly helps make room for more serious or intense thought. I think I’ll try to stick with it.