Lies, Big Lies, and Time Management Lies

Another game of putting things aside
As if we’ll come back to them some time
A brace of hope a pride of innocence
And you would say something has gone wrong
Something’s Always Wrong – Toad the Wet Sprocket

Note – I started writing this post in April and had to leave it and come back to it. That’s both a meta-commentary and a sign of how painful this topic is to me.

I went through a bit of organizational hell a month or so  several months ago  a year-and-a-half-ago- I converted my Time Management system from its previous mish-mash of Outlook, Google to-do lists, email in-box etc. to a new mish-mash organized by Evernote and inspired by this article from Lifehacker about how to use it with David Allen’s Getting Things Done system.

And it’s sorta working. It’s a big improvement, I think. Outlook’s task list is terrible, Google’s is worse, and I’d been using them to enforce this bifurcation in my work life and personal/side-business life that was tying me in knots.

However, there was this bad moment, this point where I’d basically imported all the badly written notes into what Evernote had revealed to be some mighty long lists of things I’d committed to do, and I had this epiphany:

I’ll never have time to do all the things that I want to do.

Wow, Gary, that’s deep, I can hear you saying. And let’s take a moment to reflect on how the 20th century philosopher James Croce said it better than Toad the Wet Sprocket (although I like both songs):

To elaborate – for some of us, the stress that we often blame on poor organization (especially when others are inflicting that stress of their poor organization ON us) and its idiot twin, procrastination, may in fact be caused by inadequate time and resources to get everything done we want to do. And if that’s the case, more organization and more technology will not help. In fact, it may hurt, unless we use that organizational time to clarify our priorities and shed some of those items on the to-do list that are not worth doing, or which can’t be done.

Until we take ownership of that, our emotional landscape will sound like that Toad the Wet Sprocket song, complete with minor chords and aimless strumming.

To eliminate the obvious – if you’re not making it to the gym, spending time with your family, and doing those other things that for many of us would seem to be the things that really make life worth living –  AND if you’re not doing those things simply because you’re watching a lot of TV at home and spending a lot of time on Facebook at work, your first step is to get to work. And if you give that an honest try, you’ll quickly see a need to get organized.

And this is how far I got in April (of 2014) – the despair stage of the project. 110 notes in Evernote, mostly representing something that supposedly needed to get done.

So the (re) organizational work merely exposed a much deeper issue – I had too many things on the list which I did not look forward to doing and which I was not being adequately compensated for doing (neither in pay, nor recognition, nor professional development).

Realizing this made me put the accelerator down on the job search, and in fact led me past the job search to a totally different career path. I’d say it’s why I’m now insisting on calling myself self-employed, and in fact being paid on a fee basis rather than a salary.

It also caused me to change churches, drop out of a lot of stuff, and over time is causing me to evaluate how my ego really ticks over a lot differently. When we’re younger, it’s perhaps proper to take our cues from others (provided we pick those others wisely) about what our priorities should be. If you’re pushing the half-century mark and still spending a lot of time worrying about what others think, it’s time to find the mental and spiritual security to stop it.

Gary Smith has 73 notes in Evernote as of this writing, of which 40 are tasks. His highest priority task is “Clean up tickets in SherpaDesk” and his farthest out task is “Write the Great American Novel.”

 

 

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