Getting things not quite done

Cleaning the mess on my desk has made me more aware, again, how much stuff one can accumulate in such short time. Getting things done is quite difficult when you have the stuff on your desk. On the other hand, if you don’t have a proper inbox, that’s what you opted for. Hmm. Increasingly I find that the method I’m currently using is not really working out for me. One of the problems is too many inboxes, a fatal accident waiting to happen to the followers of the True Way. So far that accident is waiting to happen because I have a rather diverse work environment. There’s the computer at work, the laptop, the home computer, meetings, babysitting in the park, in the train or when visiting friends and relatives. Well, not that diverse, but diverse enough to end up with more than one inbox. One on the work computer, one on the home computer and one in a paper notebook I keep around. I like the paper notebook, because I have a readable handwriting, you can scribble, and it has nice in-the-bright-sunlight-in-the-park properties and friends and relatives don’t really mind when you scribble something in your paper notebook thingy. Start using a laptop on that occasion and people are seriously upgrading your geek status.It would appear I’m not alone in this.

But paper notebooks have one main setback, you keep repeating yourself. Entering stuff from email into the paper notebook doesn’t feel like you’re accomplishing something. When you have two pages of to-dos and notes it looks quite neat. Start doing things and crossing things off (Feel good moment) it starts to look rather messy. So, after a while, you rewrite your list to get a good overview. But hey, I’m not in this world to rewrite my to-do list for the umpteenth time.

I thought about getting a nice iPhone 3GS, but that sort of appeals to my geekness more than to my I want to get stuff done-ness. Other than that, I have a hard time believing that it has the nice properties a paper notebook has.

Maybe the future will bring something like a Kindle which you can write onto and then organize it. Maybe I should get a scanner, that would at least save the rewriting. That’s two maybes that may rank a bit too high on the ‘wishful thinking scale’.

For the time being I see no other option than to muddle forward in this way.

hotdogsladies: remark

Seen on twitter.

Multitasking is like driving or cunnilingus; most people assume they’re great at it until they start asking around…

As always Merlin Mann has something to say that is obnoxious, but to the point as well. Yes, people are very bad at multitasking. I thought I did okay, but recently I find that hard to believe of myself. It’s not to bad to switch between tasks that combined only take less than the whole of your attention span. However, if you have a task where you need your whole brain, not just the left or right part, it starts to fall apart.

What can you do in this case?

  • Well, I try to get away, if possible. That works like a charm when I do not need my computer. When I do, well, I’m (literally) stuck.
  • Posting a note on the door telling everybody they can come in during ‘visiting hours’ does not work. At all. Unless you get very impolite, which is rather against my nature, I suppose. You can tell people to come back another time, but if you break that rule once for somebody, anybody feels they can break the rule as well. So, visiting hours, yes, if you can keep the discipline of telling everybody to, basically, come back during visiting hours or send email.

But, people walking in, even if you tell then to come back later, take your focus away from the task at hand, and you need time to get back in. That’s when I get sidetracked: “Ok, I’ve been interrupted anyway, I’ll check the email before I get back to the groove.” At that point in time, I’ve lost the flow and takes me even longer to get back in.