My marital partner has a concise and specific way of getting to the heart of the matter. She can see through the noise and distractions of my life in such a way that often escapes me. This is one of the many reasons why I’m a better me with her than without. Take for instance her perceptive take on helping me get things done.
You’ve heard of the Getting Things Done movement, inspired by the book by David Allen. Yeah, I’ve tried that. From what I can tell, its seems to be an interesting way of applying taxonomic principles to your everyday inbox, what with all the ampersands and atmarks 1 and what not. But in my experience — and let’s face it, getting anything done is entirely an experiential exercise — the fewer layers of abstraction turns out to be the better.
Which brings me back to my wife’s revelation to me recently. Here it is:
Yep, that’s it. Quite the nugget, huh? But really, it’s been like a little personal mantra lately. You see, I tend toward the detail-oriented side of the personality grading scales. The big picture, though it doesn’t scare me, does have a way of intimidating me a bit when it comes to personal projects. Take for instance home landscaping. I have a lot of landscaping work to do on our property. Landscaping is a good example of a multi-tiered, multi-resource effort. End goal: we want to install sod grass in a patch of the back yard. But to do that, the sprinkler system has to be installed. But to do that, the old dilapidated sprinkler pipes need to be inspected and troubleshot for functionality. You see what happens? To do one step of the project, another two sub-projects emerge, which makes job estimation very tricky. How long will this take? How much will it cost? Beats me!
So I could take the time to create a complicated mind map or list all the subprojects and contexts and tags in a GTD system. But right now in my life, what I need more is just simplicity. Break big projects down into smaller tasks. Concentrate only on one task at a time. Baby steps.