I know this all seems like a tremendous waste of time, and in some ways I’d agree. I get a little sad when I think about how many other ways I could have spent the time I’ve sunk into task management and this kind of thing. Moving from one app to another. Thinking about perspectives, and filters, and tags. Talking to friends about what they do. Experimenting, tweaking, and returning to the starting point.
But if you’ve read this far, you’re likely the kind of person who sees some value in the process. And that’s part of my point.
I see two things very clearly now. The first is that this really has become a hobby, which is a little weird, but whatever. My hobby is playing with task apps and organizing information. This should come as no great surprise to anyone, given my previous statements. And for all the hand-wringing it causes me, I do like it. It’s fun. It’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle over and over again, but the pieces’ shapes change ever so slightly each time, so it’s familiar, but not exactly the same. It’s oddly delightful.
The other thing is that for better or worse, the way I feel about myself is intrinsically tied to how I feel about the information I manage in my life. I’ve discovered (re-discovered?) that I feel great about myself when I think I’m completely on top of things and not so great when I feel like things are slipping through the cracks. I suppose this is slightly better than tying your feelings of self-worth to something like your personal appearance or fiscal status, which may not be as easily managed.1 At least this way, I have a relatively manageable way to climb back out of whatever emotional abyss I find myself in from time to time, and can reason out why I might be feeling that way at that time.
I’ve found there’s something almost Konmari-esque about switching task apps after a certain amount of time. Each time I do this process, it takes less time than before, because I get serious about pruning things that have been floating around in my system that I have no intention of ever really getting around to. I shed a handful of things that were being maintained and adding to the overhead and re-prioritize some other things, forcing myself to take a good look at what I want to get out of the switch. It feels… cleansing, if we’re being honest. And I like that feeling a lot.
After all this, what have I learned?2
- I’m not going to feel guilty about doing this stuff. It’s fun, and it serves a purpose.
- I have great friends for humoring me as I go through this. Of course, they’re as bad as I am.
- Splitting work and personal data, while initially somewhat challenging, has yielded some interesting things both in how I use apps, but also in how I think about getting things done.
- If this is what I have to do to make me feel good about myself, things could be a whole lot worse.
- I should spend more time with my kids.
That last one pretty much applies to all aspects of adult life, but as you crest over the hill of “yay, I feel like I’ve settled into my new task app” it starts to kind of assert itself a little more.
So that’s it. Summer lovin’. Happened so fast. See you in about a year when I manage to get myself knotted up all over again about something else. Or the same exact thing. Either way.
- “No offense if that’s your bag, it just isn’t as important to me,” he said as he ate a third helping of dessert and drove away in his modest five-year-old mid-size vehicle. ↩
- The other thing I’ve learned is that it’s tremendously helpful to read my old blog posts. It’s like talking to myself in a private (except that it’s published publicly on the the internet) therapy session. ↩