| by Flemming Funch|
Oh, this is just brilliant. This article. I had read it all the way through before I realized the author is Marc Andreessen, the guy who invented Mosaic, essentially the first web browser. This is, as he calls it, Productivity Porn. A lot of people, myself included, are addicted to new systems of staying organized and productive. Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen has been the most popular angle recently, and so far the best system I've run into. But then again, I haven't completely succeeded in making it work for me, even though I agree with it. And, now, this system is not incompatible with GTD, but it goes some steps further in simplifying things, and addressing that which makes people productive. At least people like me, who do the best work when I don't have to, and get stuck when I've got too many commitments and deadlines and meetings. So, a key new principle here is:
don't keep a schedule
Don't keep a schedule at all. Don't schedule meetings for next week. He's quite right, that often a meeting scheduled in the future is a way of avoiding the fact that it is not very important to you right now. Or, at best, when next Tuesday at 3 o'clock comes along, even if the subject maybe interests you, most likely there's something else you'd rather be doing at that exact time. So, don't give away your future time. Always work on what is most important to you. If somebody needs to see you, either see them right now, or tell them you can't commit to anything, and you don't keep a schedule.
Andreessen didn't altogether invent this. He seems to be inspired in part by the book A Perfect Mess, which presents that idea, that it is more productive to not have a schedule, and which gives examples of well-known people, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who supposedly organize themselves like that.
He gives other great suggestions. Like, every night write down, on a 3x5 card, a todo list of 3 to 5 things you for sure need to do the next day. Then, the next day, do your best to get those things done, and cross them off when you've done them. And, on the back of the same card, write down an anti-todo list, which are the things you get done during the day that weren't on your actual todo list. And, at the end of the day, enjoy the fact that there probably are many more items on the anti-todo list, and that actually you were more productive when you weren't supposed to.
And then there's the related Structured Procrastination approach. I recognize that very well, because I do that often. Deliberately procrastinate some things you need to do, but which you don't feel like, and use that time to get some other things done that you feel more like.
Which is indeed what I'm doing now. I have lots of work to do today, which I don't feel like doing, and I wouldn't be writing this post if I only followed my todo list.
There are more suggestions, but you can read them yourself. But basically it adds up to organizing your life so that you can do the things that are most important to you, the things you love doing, the things that seem most valuable at the time. As opposed to a list of "shoulds" that don't do much for you.
It is cool that we're beginning to have technological tools that make that more possible. You know, you can better do impromptu meetings when everybody have cellphones. Or you can do it online. It is easy to know when a small group of people are available at the same time, even if nothing was scheduled. It is actually often easier than scheduling anything.
And in ad-hoc self-organization within networks there are potentials that don't exist in strictly organized, scheduled, hierarchical systems. It is entirely possible that you can do what you love most of the time, and that at the same time collective intelligence emerges in your network. It just can't be planned in advance.
(Thanks to Loic for mentioning it)