Reducing Stress and Finishing Well

   Written by on August 3, 2017 at 9:41 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.  Ravi Zacharias

We all want to finish well.  So what hinders us from finishing well?  What obstacles must we overcome?  What helps us to finish well?

The book of Matthew gives us the advice to take one day at a time and not to worry about tomorrow.  The Bible in other books, gives us many examples of people becoming overwhelmed with the task presented.  For example, Moses is overwhelmed when presented with the task of bringing his people out of Egypt.  However taking one day at time, he accomplished what seemed at first to be impossible.  How many times have you faced a task, only to be filled completely with doubts about your ability to finish the task?  Your picture of everything to be done becomes so overwhelming it is hard to move forward.

David Allen, a productivity consultant, wrote the book Getting Things Done, the Art of Stress Free Productivity.  His theory is “Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do.  It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.”

Let’s try a simple exercise to see if his theory fits you.  Pick a current incomplete task that is annoying you and causing stress.  Write down a description of the successful outcome in one sentence.  What is your definition of “done”?  Now write down the next action to move toward the desired outcome that you can and will finish today.  Finish that step, no matter how small.  How do you feel after finishing that action today; better that you have moved forward?

Mr. Allen based his method for getting things done (GTD) on the idea of changing projects from an overwhelming stressful list of undone stuff to a written list of manageable, prioritized action items.  The goal is to create a means of focusing on the tasks that can be accomplished and not worrying about those that can’t.  His book goes into great detail about how to create a tracking system.  His method reduces stress and increases productivity by putting reminders about everything you are not working on into a tracking system.  In this way, you can work on the task at hand without distraction from the “incompletes.”

Does this system sound interesting?  This is a brief summary of Mr. Allen’s method.  It defines how to take time to get organized but you can personalize the system to fit you.  For example, some of us were born in the last ice age and so we are more comfortable with a paper system.  The Millennials reading this article, may be more comfortable with using their iPhone to create a tracking system.   

  The basics to the system is to create an inbox, a trashcan, a reference material filing system, project lists, and a calendar.  As “stuff” enters your life, the stuff moves through the five stages of the system: capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage.  You put the “stuff” in one of the following locations:  1) in the trash, 2) on the someday/maybe list, 3) in a neat reference filing system, 4) on a list of projects, with a defined outcome and next action, 5) immediately complete list, 6) delegate to someone else list with a follow-up reminder,  7) on the “waiting for…” list.  And then, the stuff is put on your calendar.

Ok, yes, this does sound very complicated.  However, the basic idea is simple, focus on day-to-day tasks.  The fundamentals of GTD system are storing, tracking, and retrieving the information related to the things that need to be done today.  You may not want or need to go through the detail process outlined by Mr. Allen but let us agree that finishing well without stressing out is important.  We may think that finishing well occurs at the end of our lives.  However, it is not limited to that, we can finish well at the end of a day, a week, a month, or a year.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.   2 Timothy 4:7

Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or


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