There are over 1700 apps on iOS for managing ToDo lists – many that cost money. If you could download and try each of them (say 1 per minute), it would take nearly 30 hours straight. When it comes to managing our life, we want something to blame. It can’t be us, so it must be that the system that’s broken, and what better way to fix that system than to write a new one. How many of us have tried a ToDo list program and used it for a little while and then stopped?
The modern world worships efficiency: trying to get more done, trying to remember all the details, trying to stay organized. We feel social pressure to “look busy” (at one point in my career I was involved in 30 hours of meetings every week — We had the slogan: Meetings, the practical alternative to work). To worship this busyness idol, we try various systems for a little while though eventually give up because life is not a series of lists nor about being busy.
Satisfaction with life is not running from crisis to crisis nor working lots of hours to “get stuff done” nor being a slave to our “time-management” system. It’s about focusing on the most important thing. Efficiency is not a god to be worshiped. He who gets the most stuff done is not the one who wins.
This doesn’t mean that finding a system to help manage our focus is a bad thing. At some level, we each need a system just to survive any modern job. While there is no system that works for everyone, the system should make sure that we are focused on important rather than urgent and encourage us to spend some time reflecting about what is important rather than getting mesmerized by the constancy of action.
This need for personalization is why there are over 1700 apps for managing todo’s. In the end though, we all have a near infinite number of things “todo”. The key is deciding which ones we should focus on. It’s not about getting more done, it’s about getting the right things done.
- Pilot Fire is a very light weight system for planning, reflecting and doing that I’ve found to be very effective.
- Another friend of mine highly recommends the Pomodoro Technique, which is great if you really need to get something important done but are having a hard time getting started, or you really like timers that are shaped like tomatoes.
- Finally, a friend and I are trying out Seth Godin’s adaptation of Zig Zigler’s goal setting technique – which is all about doing things in small steps, continuously with friends. I’m sure I’ll write a blog about it at some point.
- Feel free to comment with any other systems you’ve found that help you focus on what’s important.
Meetings: Where the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.
Getting things done is only important if you are getting the important things done. Figuring out what IS important and how to focus your attention on those things is a key part of steering our way through a busy demanding life. I have been using the principles and techniques that David Delp puts forth in Pilot Fire for several years now. It is a simple and effective system that has kept me involved in the passions of my life.
“If you could download and try each of them…” What an incredible waste of time that would be!