osmie: (Default)
There are far more things to do in my life than I could possibly spend the time and energy to accomplish.

Really, this leaves me with only a few choices. On one hand, I could decide that everything has to happen, and I have to do it all myself. Then I can burn myself out to get it all done; or I can fail -- or I can even combine these, for extra-crunchy breakfast angst!

On another hand (there are multiple hands here, all reaching in most obligingly just when they're needed), I could decide that everything has to be done, and I get to manage how. Then I can start to delegate; ask for help; leave for myself as many fun bits as I can, while leaving time for the high-level organizational tasks that only I can do. Or, alternatively, I can refuse to take any high-level responsibility, and shop forlornly for somebody who can live my life for me. On the whole I think the first alternative sounds like more fun.

A third hand allows me to decide that it's just not all going to get done. Then I could sit down and prioritize what pieces are most important to me, or most practical, or highest on whatever other metric I'm using for triage. In my experience this step is depressing, in a very literal sense; it leaves me with no energy to do anything. And so once again there's another approach: I could refuse to decide. I could accept that some things in my life will happen, and others won't, and which pieces are which is going to be an organic process, decided only ever in the moment according to my mood at the time.

Some of these choices are saner than others. Some of them are healthier; some of them are more productive; some of them are more fun. There's a lot of overlap.

I do believe that I'm growing towards a system of personal organization in which all three major approaches play a part. I am responsible for all major aspects of my life: work, home, person, parenting, friendships, relationships, creativity, schedule. Everything has to be considered, at a high level, and I'm the one who has to do it. But there's such a thing as too little management -- and if I believe that my responsibility extends down to each finest detail, I'm guilty of it. No, once I've claimed the big picture, I get to manage. I can decide this week that I'm delegating most of my parenting, largely ignoring work and relationships, asking for help with creativity, and focusing my own effort on schedule and home. Next week I can make a completely different set of decisions.

But at the finest level of detail, I don't necessarily have to prioritize at all. My home will never be perfect; my work will never be finished; I will never spend enough time connecting with all my friends; but five minutes of open, unstressed attention -- no matter how petty the task -- will always improve my lot. Down in the midst of a lifelong to-do list, there is simply no need to spend any time deciding on the next thing. If the answer is important, I'll already know what it is, and I'll be working toward a specific goal. In every other circumstance, there's such a thing as too much management -- and optimizing an NP-complete problem is a great way to get mired in it. If I just start with something interesting, I won't get everything done, but I'll have a richer life for puttering away.

Last year I cast into the Yule fire my fear of management, of taking responsibility for others ... ultimately, of taking responsibility for my own overburdened life. Last month I hired a new staff member to take over most of my old job at work, from the days when I had time to be just a programmer. Last week I moved my computer into my bedroom, so that I could write down an idea, or a task, or an expense, every time I think of it. (And also so that I could listen to music as I wander about the main floor of the house, but really the robust solution to that problem is an AirPort Express.) Today, at the belated recommendation of [livejournal.com profile] dabrota and [livejournal.com profile] vuge, I installed OmniFocus at home and synched it with my iPhone.

There is always enough time; there is all the time in my life. The only question is what to do now.

Not "next." Just now.
osmie: (Default)
There are far more things to do in my life than I could possibly spend the time and energy to accomplish.

Really, this leaves me with only a few choices. On one hand, I could decide that everything has to happen, and I have to do it all myself. Then I can burn myself out to get it all done; or I can fail -- or I can even combine these, for extra-crunchy breakfast angst!

On another hand (there are multiple hands here, all reaching in most obligingly just when they're needed), I could decide that everything has to be done, and I get to manage how. Then I can start to delegate; ask for help; leave for myself as many fun bits as I can, while leaving time for the high-level organizational tasks that only I can do. Or, alternatively, I can refuse to take any high-level responsibility, and shop forlornly for somebody who can live my life for me. On the whole I think the first alternative sounds like more fun.

A third hand allows me to decide that it's just not all going to get done. Then I could sit down and prioritize what pieces are most important to me, or most practical, or highest on whatever other metric I'm using for triage. In my experience this step is depressing, in a very literal sense; it leaves me with no energy to do anything. And so once again there's another approach: I could refuse to decide. I could accept that some things in my life will happen, and others won't, and which pieces are which is going to be an organic process, decided only ever in the moment according to my mood at the time.

Some of these choices are saner than others. Some of them are healthier; some of them are more productive; some of them are more fun. There's a lot of overlap.

I do believe that I'm growing towards a system of personal organization in which all three major approaches play a part. I am responsible for all major aspects of my life: work, home, person, parenting, friendships, relationships, creativity, schedule. Everything has to be considered, at a high level, and I'm the one who has to do it. But there's such a thing as too little management -- and if I believe that my responsibility extends down to each finest detail, I'm guilty of it. No, once I've claimed the big picture, I get to manage. I can decide this week that I'm delegating most of my parenting, largely ignoring work and relationships, asking for help with creativity, and focusing my own effort on schedule and home. Next week I can make a completely different set of decisions.

But at the finest level of detail, I don't necessarily have to prioritize at all. My home will never be perfect; my work will never be finished; I will never spend enough time connecting with all my friends; but five minutes of open, unstressed attention -- no matter how petty the task -- will always improve my lot. Down in the midst of a lifelong to-do list, there is simply no need to spend any time deciding on the next thing. If the answer is important, I'll already know what it is, and I'll be working toward a specific goal. In every other circumstance, there's such a thing as too much management -- and optimizing an NP-complete problem is a great way to get mired in it. If I just start with something interesting, I won't get everything done, but I'll have a richer life for puttering away.

Last year I cast into the Yule fire my fear of management, of taking responsibility for others ... ultimately, of taking responsibility for my own overburdened life. Last month I hired a new staff member to take over most of my old job at work, from the days when I had time to be just a programmer. Last week I moved my computer into my bedroom, so that I could write down an idea, or a task, or an expense, every time I think of it. (And also so that I could listen to music as I wander about the main floor of the house, but really the robust solution to that problem is an AirPort Express.) Today, at the belated recommendation of [livejournal.com profile] dabrota and [livejournal.com profile] vuge, I installed OmniFocus at home and synched it with my iPhone.

There is always enough time; there is all the time in my life. The only question is what to do now.

Not "next." Just now.

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