Breaking the radio silence. My spare time recently was taken up with both the new job, and one coding project that I really, really wanted to get done. Now that it’s done, I hope I can push some things I’ve been thinking about to the blog.
Lately1 things have got shaken up. I’ve moved countries and started a new job, and I’m still feeling the ripples. One unexpected consequence is that I stopped trusting my notebook as much.
My usual (and preferred) setup looks like this:
- My main task dump is OmniFocus, as should be pretty clear from the theme of posts on this site. Everything goes into OF: personal development, someday/maybe, work projects, writing tasks, random around-the-house stuff, etc. etc.
- I have a notebook for personal capture. This sits in my back pocket as often as possible, and I use it to capture anything of note during the day.
- My day is organised by the presence of a daily review, which I usually perform between about 8:45 and 9:00am, before I get stuck into work. In my daily review, I survey the day for events, clear up various inboxes that aren’t OmniFocus, and so on. This is moderated by a recurring task in OmniFocus.
I started noticing that I wasn’t trusting my notebook when ideas started to go missing. By which I mean: it’d be a Sunday morning, I’d be sitting at the breakfast table, thinking about things, and I’d suddenly think to myself: “Wasn’t there something I wanted to do this weekend? I’m sure I wrote it down somewhere.” I’d written it down in my notebook, but thanks to my new schedule (in which I don’t really use or check OmniFocus until the weekend) I hadn’t cleared it all week.
The most insidious thing about this wasn’t the fact that I’d stopped clearing my notebook, though: it was how quickly my subconscious became aware of this, and how long it took my conscious to realise. In hindsight, I could see myself going through a repetitive pattern in the last few weeks:
- I write things into my notebook, but they never get into my task managers.
- Therefore, if I have a good idea, I have less incentive to write it down.
- Now all my ideas are floating around my head, rather than being in my book, so I have even less incentive to clear my notebook regularly.
- Go to step 2.
It’s a horrible, horrible positive feedback loop that I just didn’t spot. Thankfully, the fix was dead easy: make sure that tasks on my work and home computers both ensured I cleared my notebook regularly. Now I clear it every morning: and it’s back to being an invaluable way of capturing thoughts and tasks.
And by “lately” here I actually mean the last half-year or so: everything’s relative. ↩
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