Compromise: A Key Virtue in Getting Things Done

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Our society can be so hostile. Everybody seems to take sides; us against them, democrats against republicans, organic agriculture against conventional agriculture, Christians against atheists. Standing for an extreme is not a good way to solve problems because the world is not black and white. It creates more problems than it solves.

Great things really happen when people come together and compromise.

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What Is Your Real Job?

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Maybe you work in IT. Maybe you’re in the insurance business. Maybe you are a doctor. Whatever you do for work, don’t let your work job make you forget your real job.

What is your real job?

“Everything a baptized person does every day should be directly or indirectly related to the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.”

Dorothy Day

If your job is to install plumbing, then your real job is to give drink to the thirsty. If you manage a grocery store, then your real job involves feeding the hungry and instructing the ignorant. If your job is to mop floors, then maybe you are really offering hospitality to the homeless or bearing wrongs patiently. Continue reading

Note Minimalism

Minimalism of notes.

I do not have enough time to act on all of my ideas – too many ideas, too little time. So instead of acting on them, I wrote them down.

I wasted all kinds of time writing down ideas that would never come to fruition. My list of ideas grew out of control. It took a few hours just to read it through.

Due to my overabundance of ideas, I was overwhelmed, and nearly paralyzed in my ability to act on them. I didn’t know where to start let alone finish.

In order to save time and hack my mind into completing more projects, I came up with the idea of note minimalism. And I did not add it to my list of ideas.

The idea of note minimalism is to eliminate the documentation of ideas that will never turn into actions.

The Rules of Note Minimalism

Rule for tracking ideas:

  • Do not write ideas down

Rule for acting on ideas:

  • Work on one project per medium at a time. This means that I can work on a few projects simultaneously as long as they’re different types. For example, I can work on one website, one song, one blog post, and one novel, all at the same time. However, I cannot work on two or more websites, two or more blog posts, or two or more novels at the same time.

The golden rule:

  • Do not start a new project of the same medium until:
  • Completing the current project, or
  • Trashing the current project

A Mind Hack for Motivation

In his idea/task organization book, Getting Things Done, David Allen argues that writing things down is important. He says it frees the mind to focus on the task at hand.

I tried Allen’s system. It may work for some, but it did not work for me. I found that writing the idea down ruins my drive to act on it. The project loses its urgency. I figure, now that its written down, I can finish it some other time. That time never comes.

Each new idea comes with a little bundle of excitement. By refusing to write the idea down, and refusing to work on two projects at once, the mind is forced to channel its excitement into the current project. It thinks, “I must finish this project so I can work on the new, exciting one.”

The Test of Time

It is my hope that note minimalism will lead to increased time for working on projects, and increased drive to complete projects. I have been following the rules of note minimalism for a couple weeks now, and, look, I’m actually posting stories on Medium!

This early in the trial, it is possible that the excitement of the new idea, rather than the implementation of the idea, is the driving force. These things always seem to work great at first. Only in time will we know the truth.

Harness Nostalgia’s Power to Make Life Easier

Nostalgia, a longing for the good old days, is a powerful emotion. Video games have been around long enough now to induce nostalgia in the psyches of grown men. The recent explosion in the value of old Nintendo games is proof of nostalgia’s power.

You can harness nostalgia’s power to make your life easier. In fact, if you don’t harness it, you may experience less successful and at greater cost.

Recipe for Nostalgia

Think about what makes you feel nostalgic. Think about your past. You probably still do some of the things you did back then. You might listen to the same songs. Maybe you watch Halloweentown every Halloween because it reminds you of the good old days.

Nostalgia will form based on two things; non-negative action and repetition. If there was a recipe it would look like this. Add any action, as long as it is not a negative one. Repeat the action with a degree of regularity. The positivity of the action and the degree of regularity will determine the strength of the nostalgia to come.

Brew Your Nostalgia

If you played Mario Kart 64 every day after school for three years, nostalgia for the game has probably, at some point, hit you like a blue shell.

Imagine you came home and, instead of playing games, did math homework every day after school. Math homework can be a bummer, but it is not generally negative. The ingredients are there; non-negative action and repetition. It is very likely that you would feel some nostalgia for the afternoons spent doing math.

Now imagine you threw one additional little step in there to increase the positivity of the action. Every day, you came home from school, poured some milk, and opened a pack of Oreos. Then you enjoyed the cookies and milk while you did your math homework. It’s a great recipe for nostalgia, and it increases thinking skills at the same time.

If you played Mario Kart every day after school, you will feel nostalgia for Mario Kart. If you had cookies and milk, and did math homework every day after school, you will feel nostalgia for those things.

Use Your Nostalgia for Good

Nostalgia only requires repeated, non-negative action. From that, it develops naturally with the progression of time.

Your job right now is to decide what you want to feel nostalgia for in the future. Think about what you want to do. Think about your mission in life. Maybe think about what you could do to generate income that won’t produce negative feelings.

Now start doing. If it’s not the most exciting thing in the world — if it is worth doing, it is probably difficult — add a little something positive like milk and cookies or Beethoven sonatas. Then repeat.

As time goes, you will develop nostalgia for your action. You will want to do what you are doing, even if you did not really want to at first.

Most importantly, be careful about things you are doing that will not help you achieve your goals because you can develop nostalgia for those things just as easy.

Stop Planning, Start Right Now

“The first blow is half the battle” — 18th Century Proverb

Getting started is difficult. It requires overcoming fear. It requires commitment. It requires punching procrastination in the face.

However, once you start you are halfway there.

You can plan and strategize all you want (aka not starting), but you will not really know what you are up against until you jump into the action.

A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” — General George Patton

The above quote is an awful thing for a military general to say. It demonstrates his perspective of an army as a unit rather than a group of human beings. It is brilliant wisdom, though, when it comes to the business of everyday life, when lives are not on the line.

When you start something there is always one of two outcomes. You will either finish or you will run into a roadblock. If you finish, good. If you run into a roadblock, you now know what problem you need to solve.

Starting right away forces you to ask questions, forces the problems to the surface, which forces you to come up with answers and solutions. So, if you have never tried, try it now. Stop planning, and jump right in!