Define and execute - managing my energy like a resource

I’ve used the Getting Things Done method of organising my tasks and projects for years. While I admit that it has, more than once, become a distracting hobby of optimisation instead of helping, it has also freed up a lot of mental energy.

In my work I’m constantly switching between creative problem solving and mechanically grinding something out. Normally I just do a task from start to finish, but quite often it’s hard to start being creative when I’m already in a grinding out mindset.

The great people at Basecamp has an idea to solve this issue, they call it a Hill Chart, and it represents how well defined a task is and how far along execution it is. This could really help with picking the right thing to work on depending on mood and energy levels.

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To apply this strategy in my GTD setup I’ve created a new context I call Definition, which has two tags Define and Execute. I label all my tasks with one of these, and depending on which state I’m in I sort my tasks accordingly. I’ve only been doing this for a week so far, but I really enjoy the difference.

What do you think? Any better tips on how to manage your energy?


Wake up and stop wasting time

Sometimes you just need a swift kick in the ass. Sometimes, you need some brutal truth:

You need to have one of those moments where you stop justifying time-wasters. Where you stop justifying playing small. Where you stop justifying spending time with the wrong people. Where you stop doing business with the wrong people. Where you stop being immature with your money and your relationships.

So how to we do this? This is how:

Research has clearly shown that the avoidance of failure undermines intrinsic motivation. Put bluntly, if you’re trying to avoid failure, you’re focused on the wrong things. And you can’t win long-term in life this way.

Stop avoiding failure. Stop focusing on the outcomes, but instead focus on the work itself. If you're interested, this is the research referenced.

How to achieving something

You have dreams right? Things you want to do, stuff you want to create or complete? We all do. But then life gets in the way. Maybe we're finding it hard to find the time? Maybe we keep getting interrupted? Maybe we're just to afraid to act.

The truth is that's all bullshit. The reason you haven't achieved what you're dreaming about is that is requires growth, and growth hurts. Specifically it hurts your ego. In this fantastic article, Amy Hoy pokes you right in the ego and tells it like it is.

If you want to make something of your skills, yourself, your life…the worst truth is better than the best lie. Reality is your friend. Your ego, on the other hand, is your worst enemy. When you fail to give your ego what it wants, it throws a tantrum and makes you hurt. That’s the only way the ego knows to communicate: caresses…and punches.
— Amy Hoy

...So what's your dream again?

Notebooks and bullet journals

I've had a love for notebooks since I was a kid. I've always doodled, sketched and written on paper with relish. But since collage the habit has waned because it's just not efficient enough.

Bullet Journaling is a trendy todo list idea that is getting people back on paper. And I love it. Check out this amazing journal, and my current favourite notebooks.

Now I just need to figure out if writing on paper is worth the lack of search and tags and get journaling, or if I'll just build a digital tool for the same.

Reading news is pointless and you shouldn't do it.

I've seen studies on this before. But never heard the argument quite so coherently stated as in this post from Farnam Street.

Being well informed isn’t regurgitating the opinion of some twenty-two-year-old with no life experience telling me what to think or how outraged to be. Your first thought on something is usually not yours but someone else’s. When all you do is consume, you are not only letting someone else hijack and direct your attention; you are also letting them think for you.
— Farnam Street

Productivity porn

Conferences have interested me less and less over the last five years or so, and I just realized why. It’s because so much of it is inspirational instead of educational.

Inspiration is basically productivity porn. It’s entertaining and feels like you’re leaning, but it’s just another distraction. It’s the “busy work” of learning.

Stuff to keep you busy from doing what you really want to be doing.

You don’t need more inspiration. You need to do the work. Because doing things inspire us.