Monday morning is when I usually “check my course.” In other words, I try to make sure that A) what I have lined up for the week lines up with where I want to go in the bigger picture, and B) nothing important is slipping through the cracks.
Over the years I have found variations of this “weekly review,” along with at least two planning retreats a year, to be tremendously helpful. When I have done them consistently, I have been happier and more productive, and when I have not done both consistently, it’s usually been a fairly expensive oversight in terms of losing/wasting considerable time and energy (and ofttimes, money).
It’s surprisingly easy though, as the proverbial saying goes, to climb a ladder, only to find it is leaning against the wrong wall.
My task management system right now is a bit more "in flux" than I would like – I am creating some software for managing tasks, and I am “eating my own dog food” as they say (i.e. using it myself). It’s currently far enough from being finished that its functionality is still pretty sketchy, and the net result of this is that there is a lot more bouncing around in my head right now than I would like.1
So, this morning, before I even got to looking at my master task list, I found myself internally asking four questions:
"What do I have to do?" "What do I need to do?" "What do I want to do?" "What do I get to do?"
I think it’s advantageous to look at things from a number of different perspectives, because generally it elicits a depth of understanding which would otherwise not be there. The more of an “J” you are2, the more you will want to have all your tasks resolved, lined out, and clearly evaluated ahead of time as to their value. (I've seen task managers, for instance, even go so far as to give each task a "point value" to help prioritize them). There is something to be said though, for just exploring the tensions between different perspectives as well. (Note: Knowing where you are on the J <-> P spectrum can be very helpful to understanding your approach to planning).
Here’s the insight that I noticed as I was asking these few questions: The tasks that came up when I asked each of them were very different – each question brought forth in my mind an entirely different kind of task set than the other questions did. Here’s what I noticed about each one:
"What do I have to do?"
This question brought up in my mind all the external obligations that I'm carrying around. The key distinction was that they were external – in other words, what was motivating me to do them was not something inside of me (my heart/mind/spirit), but rather concern or fear about consequences from outside of me, for not doing them.
The tasks that come up when you ask yourself this question are mostly about external obligations, some of which may be obligations you shouldn’t even be entertaining. Pay attention to this list, as I am noticing the more I ask it, the more I am finding heavy burdens I have committed myself to, which do not line up with what I want to be doing long-term, nor what I value personally.
"What do I need to do?"
Many people use the phrases “have to” and “need to” interchangeably, but I am noticing when I use them in speaking to myself, they have a subtly different meaning. “Have to” seems to link, for me at least, more to external obligations and consequences, whereas “need to” seems to link directly with my core values. I think of it as “What do I need to do to get where I want to go, or to live according to the values that I want to live by?”
One can think of this one as a farmer might think of planting seed: If you want to have a crop, you need to plant it. You don’t have to – no one will put you in jail if you don’t – but you need to, if you’re going to get the outcome you're wanting.
"What do I want to do?"
For me, this brought about two (usually) very different kinds of “to-dos”:
A) Tasks that line up with what I dream of doing, if money and “making a living” (which usually refers to external obligations) were no object.
B) Things I want to do just for pure fun – things that don’t necessarily have a “purpose,” or any kind of deep meaningful connection to what I want to trade my life for, but nonetheless provide small fountains of joy.
I think it’s worth paying attention to both of those. If you’re the kind of person who organizes your work like I do, odds are good that you are also the kind of person who is prone to working perhaps more hard than you should, or giving a greater percentage of your life to “work” than perhaps is best. Pure fun has a way of levying that a bit.
Pay attention to what you think is fun, but also pay attention to what produces that deeper sense of joy which has more to do with meaning than it does with entertainment. In the long haul, meaning will produce the greater joy. That said, some of the most meaningful events of all, are those where you’re simply having fun with people you love.
"What do I get to do?"
This one is a two-edged sword for me. On the one hand, my first reaction to it stems from years of learning to rephrase negative situations as positive ones; i.e. I “get” to do something that I don’t really want to do. At this point, the phrase almost has a kind of a wry smile attached to it for me... and internally I notice a voice inside cynically saying “yeah, yeah, yeah...,” laughing at my own attempt to reframe something to myself. Intentional self-delusion with a sense of humor, maybe.
The other side of that sword though, is a true and authentic one, which is rooted more in thankfulness and gratitude than in cynical reframing disguised as benign self-deception. What, literally, do I get to do?
For instance, right now I am typing this on my laptop computer (dictating a lot of it, actually), which is one of a number of computers that I own. I’m typing it in a warm comfortable office in my house, which I’m grateful for. I have an Internet connection that I get to use. I like programming, and if all goes well today, I will get to program later this afternoon. I get to write this article/blog post.
For those who are fairly ambitious by nature/driven/motivated, this “get to” question can have a way of settling them in for a bit, making oneself think about what all has gone right, and what is working well. It can be a way of celebrating victories.
The flip side of that is, the more ambitious among us will generally blow through this question too quickly, because it doesn’t “accomplish” as much of the others do. I’m still thinking about what I think about this question, because I just came up with this whole thing very recently, and I’m still trying to pay attention to my own reactions.
If you find some of your own thoughts, reactions, or question which line up with what I’ve typed here, or differ, I’d love to hear your comments.
1) One of the main advantages of using some sort of “trusted task management system,” like that recommended by GTD (and most other time management systems), is that it gives you a "satchel" of sorts to keep all of your tasks in, so they aren’t fluttering around in your mind all day. The key, of course, is actually getting it to the place that it’s a trusted enough system that your brain lets them go once you've put them in -- in other words, you actually put them out of your mind when you put them into your system.
2) I'm referring here to the Myers-Briggs/Keirsey temperament model. J stands for "judging," and P stands for "perceiving." The former prefer things settled, and the latter prefer to leave their options open. More info here, here, and here, and this is a great book if you find such things of interest.
Healthcare costs in the U.S. are driven by the following:
Workers being given very extensive healthcare insurance that give them
easy access to all manner of healthcare at little marginal cost to
them. The richness of these benefits is boosted by exemption of these
benefits from tax.
(2) Without a price inhibitor, lack of other
restriction to prevent overuse of the system, which naturally results
when the price of use is artificially low.
healthcare systems suffer from problem #1 (since the marginal cost of
using the system is 0), but resolve it by putting in place restrictions
on overuse of system. Usually these take the form of some sort of panel
of experts which decides what care people can have and what care they
can't have and deliberate under investment in capital equipment which
means people have to line up and wait (for example, by buying only 2
MRI machines to service an entire city). This is the so-called
"rationing" which Americans fear.
To stem increases in
healthcare cost, the U.S. must either put in rationing, like in other
national healthcare systems, to restrain overuse of the system (which
results from not exposing patients to prices) or it must scale back the
richness of the benefits afforded under insurance policies so that
average citizens have to pay out of pocket for a lot more of the care
they receive. The latter could be accomplished by shifting to insurance
which looks a lot more like true insurance and only insures
"catastrophic" care costs. Such policies would have high annual
deductibles, requiring people to bear most of the cost of their
ordinary day-to-day care. Although they would offer much less benefits,
such insurance would be far cheaper and by exposing people to the costs
of the services they use, they would not overuse the system (and
providers would be encouraged through competition to offer good prices
to attract clients). By accepting less expensive insurance, Americans
would receive higher salaries or other forms of compensation.
Healthcare for the true poor can be resolved through direct government
subsidies to provide basic insurance or provide direct services in
public clinics, or similar solutions. This latter approach would be a
more American free-market solution.
If you are looking to clean up a clogged up Twitter account, like the people asking questions here and here, this utility might be just what you are looking for (make sure you note the deletion caveats mentioned in those links though):
Announcing TweetDelete, the Twitter Mass Delete / Cleanup Utility that helps you mass-delete Outgoing Tweets, and Incoming and Outgoing DMs.
This is a very-much-beta version, and donationware. Use the feedback form if you find any problems (which I'm sure there are plenty), and if it proves valuable to you, feel free to donate to the cause.
Download TweetDelete here. No install required -- just download and run. : ) 02/18/2012 NOTE: THIS APPLICATION NO LONGER WORKS. See update at bottom for more info.
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Update: Having some issues with the update server; if you get in an endless loop of "checking for updates" clicking "Next" on the welcome tab, you can skip to the login section directly via the numbered tabs at the top. Should be squared away tomorrow if it's still a problem.
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Update: New release (minor edits, modified expiration date) released today 07/20/2009. Apologies to the folks who got caught by the expiration period.
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Update: 08/18/2009 Users have recently begun reporting "mo Messages found to to delete" as the result they are getting, and I now get the same result here. Looks like Twitter has changed their API, blocked this app in some way, or something along those lines.
Given the minimal support/contributions this app has received thus far, it's not high on my priority list, but I do plan to look into it eventually. Currently this app appears to no longer work, due to changes in the Twitter service.
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Update: 09/21/2009 A number of daring souls have tried the app in its current form anyway, and feedback comments (built into the app) seem to indicate positive result. Your mileage may vary, but feel free to try it out, and let me know how it works for you.
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Update: 02/10/2010 This current install is expired, and no longer works. An update version is in the works, however, and should be released sometime in the next few weeks.
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Update 03/15/2010 TweetDelete has finally been updated, and now includes archiving capability. Download at the link listed above and let me know (via the built-in feedback form) how it works out for you.
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Update 12/29/2010 Updated for newer Twitter authorization scheme, minor bug fixes, and easier save-to-text-file capability.
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Update 07/08/2011 The current version is expired. Please check back in two weeks for the updated version.
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Update 02/18/2012 OK, that was a LONG "two weeks." Sorry. The issues of dealing with Twitter's API cantankerousness has gotten worse with time; only one or two users donated financially to this project (wasn't my primary motive obviuosly, so not a big deal, but not exactly inspiring me to work harder on it, either); and there are a number of alternatives out there now as well (this was initially created simply to meet an unmet need, when nothing similar existed)...SO...... I'm going to punt. There are much more interesting projects to work on, and I think this one's run its course.
I'm playing with a few web-based alternatives (created by others) currently. I can't vouch for any of them, but you may want to check out Tweet_Deleter, and/or TweetEraser.
Best of luck with your Twitter mass-deletion needs, and my sincere thanks to those who took the time to say "thanks" or otherwise leave an encouraging word here or elsewhere. We all could probably afford to spend more of our energy doing that, and should.
"The strategy has also splintered the file sharing space into many, many
different players, many of them way underground, unlike in the early
days when there were a manageable number of players who could be worked
with proactively." (...more...)
"Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span."
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When Brian first moved to New York City he found that in New York here and now meant this room and this five minutes, as opposed to the larger here and longer now
that he was used to in England. We have since adopted the term as the
title of our foundation as we are trying to stretch out what people
consider as now.
But in an attempt to give users a more consistent and professional
experience—professional as in free shipping, 24-hour customer service
and instant purchases—is eBay abandoning everything that made it work,
everything that made it the world’s largest and best garage sale? Sure, garage sales might be more efficient if they had self-checkout
and kiosks that listed all of the merchandise and networked POS units
ringing up orders while they update your POS card, but that’s not
likely what you went to a garage sale for.
This comment is not to
suggest that free shipping and 24-hour customer service are not good
services, but that understanding why customers come to you is much more
important. If eBay becomes just like Amazon, why would this be good
news for eBay fans?
I found this comment from
Michael Olenick on this WSJ article (title: "So, You Want to Ben an Entrepreneur") funny, mostly true, and telling:
If you should start your own business you've probably already tried a
few times by now: you can't help yourself. People cut out to make
businesses do just that, and there's no stopping them. They sometimes
end up at larger organizations -- especially if a prior business was
acquired -- but there they'll naturally either fall into the new
business group or find they're a bad cultural fit. It's just one of
those things baked into people.
I have two dogs, brother and
sister. One is a fanatical fetcher: she's not doing you a favor by
bringing the ball back, you're doing her a favor by throwing it. She'll
play fetch anywhere, anytime and for anybody -- if you woke her up in
the middle of the night to play fetch she'd be happy. The other has no
interest in fetching and just ignores all the fetch toys. Despite that
they're together constantly he just doesn't show any interest.
are basically the same way: you either have it or you don't. I remember
reading somewhere that Ben & Jerry started something like seven
businesses before coming up with their ice-cream stores: that's the
spirit you'd need. If you don't, you may want to be careful investing
your life savings starting a business because you'll be competing with
those that do, and they're (we're) basically workaholic maniacs who
will blow through any obstacle the world -- or our competitors -- might
throw at us. And with that rant, I'm finished lunch and back to
coding/selling/bookkeeping/managing ... just after I take a moment to
empty my own trash bin.
Let's just say, at this price tag, I sure hope it works:
If nothing else, the plan is a striking return of big government. It
also symbolizes continuing partisanship, despite Mr. Obama’s promise of
new cooperation. No House Republican voted for the measure, and the
three in the Senate who did are viewed as renegades by their party’s
Whatever the result, future generations will get the bill.
is so much money that if someone had begun spending $1 million a day —
$1 million every day — when Christ was born,” said Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, “we would not yet be in 2009 to the full cost of this bill.”