I have a lot I want to do in life. Everyone does, but I’m of the rare few that actually took the time to become organized about it.
Unfortunately, I find myself often feeling crushed under the weight of to-do lists and epic project boards. I’ve tried minimalism, to simplify down to the basics, but even then, there’s still so much to do. Heck, I even tried keeping separation – personal, for my writing and professional for the work stuff I have no choice but to do.
Organization is good, but I find approaches like David Allen’s Getting Things Done too rigid, too overbearing. Looking at the list made me cringe with the amount of items on my plate, regardless of their context. If it were an intuitive background thing only that popped up only when I needed it, fine, but being able to see the whole thing at a glance grew overwhelming quickly.
I do like the idea of keeping track of what needs to be done. For my writing, for example, I have a basic framework kept to remind me of the years of future writing I have left and on what time frame. Maybe it won’t work for me ten years down the road, but for now, it’s just detailed enough not to lose anything without becoming bureaucratic.
There’s enough bureaucracy in this world without creating more of our own. To me, keeping organized needs to be as simple as it can possibly get, minimalized to only just what is truly important or necessary. It also needs to be eminently flexible, so it doesn’t feel like every inch of our day is pre-programmed and set in stone. Without room to move, to change, to take sudden flights of fancy, our imagination stifles. With a sled full of rocks behind us, we won’t move very quickly through the snow, unless we start dumping some of it off or letting go of the sled.
And I don’t want to haul around a sackful of tasks.
Sometimes, we need to let go of the sled.
I want to pick and choose what is most important to me, what is most enjoyable. GTD doesn’t allow for fun, unless you’re the kind of OCD person who loves file folders and paperclips. It doesn’t take into account joy or freedom. It doesn’t assume that all the “stuff” you have to do is worth doing or contributing to your life in a positive, meaningful way. It just says, “there’s a bunch of stuff to do and here’s how to make sure it’s all captured in a list” without regard for whether any of it is actually worthwhile or enjoyable. There’s a values component that’s missing.
What if ninety percent of the stuff on your list is negligible? Doesn’t matter? Capture it anyway? Put it on a list you’ll freak out to look at?
Maybe I’ve missed the point, but to me, any organization system that isn’t eminently flexible and simple, and requires only just enough maintenance and attention to make it useful, is too much. It’s overbearing.
It chokes life.
And I don’t want to be choked. I just want to get things done.