Waiting for Phil the Philing Cabinet

Today, I am to receive my long awaited brand new filing cabinet.

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but for me it should be a watershed event. My life until now has consisted of poor filing habits that have been manageable through a combination of mentally “knowing where everything is” (in quotes because I never really knew where everything was) and the fact that my more complicated filings were away in a corporate office somehere.

Well, now my home office is my corporate office, and my organizational “system” (in quotes because there never really was a system) is horribly overtaxed. Frankly, the principle of doing things “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40) has been getting harder and harder to follow as my responsibilities have grown. I don’t think that this is because I have too much to do; rather, I just need to grow in my ability to handle my tasks. Success requires education (remember those Seven Laws of Success?), and I have been endeavoring to educate myself.

I have finished my David Allen book, and I want to try the ideas he advocates. Many of them I saw in practice in the habits of my former “pre-minister” boss when I worked as an actuary, even though she has never read any of the “Getting Things Done” materials or publications. She was, simply, a natural organizer, and I was always impressed with her ability to juggle seemingly hundreds of things without dropping an item. But, the time for admiring her abilities is over, and the time for replicating them has begun.

If some of you have gone the David Allen route, feel free to offer words of encouragement. (I’m not so interested in words of discouragement, by the way.) In the meantime, my new filing cabinet is presumably enjoying a truck ride on its way to our home. I hope the ride is relaxing, because I plan to put it to work!

I plan to name the new cabinet name it “Phil.” (Not after Mr. Phil Sena, mind you, but because it sounds the same as “fill”–as in, “I’m going to fill it up.” I thought that would be funny, but now that I’ve written it I see that it isn’t. Maybe it would be funnier if I were naming it after Mr. Sena, even though he looks nothing like a filing cabinet. Whichever motivation you think is more humorous, pretend that’s why I did it. That’s the ticket! And if you think naming inanimate objects is strange and reflects on me poorly, then just don’t think about it at all…)

I told my children yesterday that within a week my office will be so clean and organized that when company comes over they will be inclined to say, “Hey — do you want to see the cleanest and most organized room you have ever seen in your entire life!” and to escort them promptly to my office. Predictably, they scoffed. Peter warned about such things in 2 Peter 3:3, but to see it in my own children. How sad. And to think that their dad is a minister. In their defense, Peter would have scoffed, too. My office has been a sty.

So we have agreed on a challenge. After my office is up to snuff, we will see which lasts longer: my clean office or their clean bedrooms. Personally, I don’t think they have a chance. I mean, come on… I’ve got Phil.

[Now that this post is complete, let me answer a few questions that our audience has passed forward…

(Q) Didn’t you have a filing cabinet before this?

(A) Yes, I have had the same filing cabinet for 15 years. Like my new cabinet, Phil, my old cabinet also has a name: “I’m cheap and my shelves won’t open without a crowbar and some WD-40.” Not as nice a name as “Phil,” but very accurate.

(Q) Don’t you feel guilty for writing such a narcissistic post — exactly the sort of thing you decried when you began blogging? Are you going to start telling us what you had for breakfast now?

(A) Yes, I do. Yet I have also learned that there is value in sharing my life with my congregations–even the somewhat inglorious and unimportant moments. As Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” For me, this blog is a way to express my affection for my folks, even if I can’t see all of them as often as I would like. (Still, yes, I do feel a little guilty. I hope to blog about some items of significance again when some Feast preparation matters have settled down and my LU schoolwork is more caught up. And I had eggs for breakfast.)

(Q) Do you think that Glad® trash bags will ever sell as well as they did during the days when they utilized the remarkable talents of Tom Bosley, TV’s Mr. Cunningham?

(A) Who let you in here? (And no, I don’t. Mr. C is the best.)]

7 thoughts on “Waiting for Phil the Philing Cabinet

  1. Alex

    Howdy Mr. Smith!

    I am finding myself agreeing with you 100%…. about being pushed to improve. God knows that some of us (read: me) need the help. 🙂

    I hope you have a great feastival season.

  2. Ducky

    I think naming inanimate objects might be a geek thing. My husband has been known to name computers, routers, and mice. And iPods.

  3. Craig

    Yet another David Allen convert! What I don’t understand is since you are tech savvy, how come you are going the low tech route? I’m sure there are many GTD programs for Windows. There are several for Mac and I’ve download a donation-ware program that has a fabulous UI, but have yet to give it a serious test. Maybe Allen is right, do it low-tech and automate when it is working.

  4. Howdy, Mr. Craig —

    Actually, there are a number of high tech approaches and programs for applying GTD principles that I have come across (some based on programs I already have) and Web Worker Daily did an article on one some time back. But for me I believe that starting at the most basic level is the best way to begin. If I demonstrate to myself that I am able to use and apply the basic principles well, I plan to take advantage of those applications at a later date.

    When I taught trig, I would have kids sketch sine & cosine curves by hand with many, many plotted points in the beginning before I let them do so on their graphing calculators, because I believe it had the potential to give them a better “feel” for the functions. Perhaps I am applying the same concept to myself — I’m not sure. (Though I will admit that when it comes to calculators in the classroom I am almost a Luddite…)

    Besides, even if I go the “high tech” GTD route (and I anticipate doing so), I still need a good filing cabinet. We still live in a world where some things are physical and where it is simply inefficient to convert every physical scrap of paper that we wish to keep into bits and bytes.

    Yours (both in digital and analog),
    Wallace Smith

  5. שלום מר סמית
    (Shalom, Mr. Smith…)

    Naming inanimate objects is a musician’s thing too…at least if you’re a Celtic harp player. I think that there’s some Irish/Scottish superstition behind that, which is why my present Celtic harp is *not* named beyond its make and model number.

    Naming cars? My late Buick (inherited from my mother) was named mostly The Moose (that’s actually a *Star Trek* novel reference), but on occasion White Elephant, Aircraft Carrier and (too often) Just Plain Trouble.

    My filing cabinet’s name is Junk. 😉 My scanner (often used to convert those pieces of paper into bits and bytes) is called Indispensible, but also Horrifically Slow. And my name will be Mud if I don’t stop fooling around here.

    May Phil arrive shortly and in perfect working order!

  6. Though we used to call my wife’s car “The Skateboard”, I have only named one car: my old, blue, four-door ’72 Chevy Nova. It had been my grandfather’s car and I drove it from the time I was a sophomore in high school (about when I began learning about the truth of God) through college, and during the first three years of our marriage. I named it Euclid. I still miss that car, even if it had no air conditioning.

    (FWIW, I was tempted to name it Euler, after my favorite mathematician, but since his name is pronounced “Oiler” I was afraid that people might misunderstand and think I was commenting on the car’s capacity to hold on to its precious black fluid…)

  7. Dear Mr. Smith,

    “Oiler”, eh? In that case I should’ve called my car “Slick” (or else “Farrah Fawcett-Leakey”, after the punchline of an old READER’S DIGEST joke) just before its unlamented demise.

    Have a restful Sabbath (שבת שלום),
    John Wheeler (יוחנן רכב)

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