Category Archives: Getting Stuff Done

A radical new organizational system based on the power of zen-like paralysis. (A parody, of course, of David Allen’s system, Getting Things Done.)

do you have what it takes?

do you have what it takes?

Discipline. Courage. Passion. Gentleness. Persistance. Self-knowledge.

do you posess these qualities? do you have the discipline every day not to get shit done? it takes a lot of work not to write, not to go to the post office, not to set goals. you have to constantly keep anesthetising yourself. the internet, the peanut butter, the room-cleaning, the pushups. the peanut butter.

think big. fail even bigger. do you have the courage to fail? a study found it takes the average person 11 attempts to quit smoking cigarettes. do you have the courage to start smoking again 10 times to acheive your goal of freedom?

are you fierce? can you breathe fire into a goal which, in the grand scheme of things, is utterly meaningless? your dream of building and racing toothpick sailboats will likely be scorned and belittled by overbearing bosses, inane co-workers, bewildered strangers, well-meaning friends, concerned family members, and curious ducks. not to mention the voices in your own head. can you, season after season, oh maker of meaning, draw strength from the goddesses and gods of sailing and toothpicking to find your true path in this watery world?

are you gentle? when (oh, right… i mean, if) your boat sinks, will you push back the tears, or will you let them gently stream down your face, crying, “i have failed miserably and brilliantly, and i am more alive than ever!” or will you do the other thing you used to do (fill in the blank)?

are you persistent? again, with the smoking and the quitting and the smoking and the quitting. are you creative? maybe you start smoking toothpicks? or peanut butter? no, really. persistence is the natural result of all the previous qualities being combined together. have you heard of jacob benson? kelly ambrose? fay grossman? yeah, they weren’t very persistent. not that you have to hear of someone for them to be successful. but that’s another can of worms. mmm, worms. huh?

person, know thyself! i’ve gotten to know myself very well. i know i should go to bed at 10 pm. it’s 1 am now. i get tired. i eat too much. i wash dishes. i start projects. and i’ve got to get up early. however, i know this about myself: i really like to write at night. so i sacrificed a bit of sleep for this toothpick sailboat. and now i am happy. good night.

getting shit done late

getting shit done late

it’s midnight. the metaphorical kids are asleep. the metaphorical bone is hanging out of the dog’s metaphorical mouth dripping with hypothetical saliva. imaginary husbands and wives are fake fast asleep, snoring and dreaming of calorie-free coffee heath bar ice cream. at long last you are alone, and with a sense of dread, you move toward the solemn tasks collected in the last several weeks.

you write a check for health insurance, begrudgingly noting that your policy has increased in cost by 88% in the last four years. you inwardly squeal with small delight in your first GSD triumph of the day. a bill paid. and, using for the first time a sticker with your address on it, greatly increasing your efficiency. that’s perhaps 30 seconds of writing you can deposit directly in your time bank ™. absolutely free time, or as i like to call it, discretionary time.

how to you save in your time bank? 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner? save customer service calls for commute hours? say goodbye to energy vampires? pretend you only need six hours of sleep? skip boring sentences in bedtime stories?

how do you spend that discretionary time?

pimp my org

pimp my org

getting shit done: the art of pimping out your organizational system for maximum speed and optimum pleasure.

there’s a chain of events that causes your splendidly planned organizational system to purr like a finely tuned ride or sputter and clunk like some shitty car, an example for which i can’t think of right now. never mind that. the question is: after all this work organizing everything, are you actually getting shit done now, and if not, why not? have you streamlined the seven hours of work you used to do into one hour in order to spend six hours staring at your thumbs? or do you now know exactly what each next action is and everything is so clear it’s scary? have you gotten so clear you’ve thrown the action list out your window, for fear you might actually get all your shit done? what happens if you do get everything done? what will tether you to this earthly realm? if there’s nothing more for you to do, will you still have a purpose? it’s ok, you didn’t have a purpose in the first place–at least, not one that’s fulfilled by the items on your action list… but i digress.

procrastination: your secret weapon.

do you believe that there are uber-organized geniuses whose sheer throughput you will never surpass? yeah, i guess there are. but you and i, we’ve got the next best thing: the secret weapon of procrastination. ever try to get one thing done all day, like writing a business plan, avoid it for hours and hours on end, and subsequently get 18 other things done instead? i just installed a keyboard tray, cleaned my apartment, cleaned out two closets and sorted out two boxes of crap to go to goodwill, worked out at the gym, met with two clients, answered ALL of my email, and worked on my website. all under the ominous threat of writing a business plan. everybody that gets anything done has a secret procrastionation weapon. you think bill gates just gets shit done cause he’s perky? no! he’s probably got to take the garbage out at his house, and he’s a neat-freak, so he goes to work all day just to avoid it, and earns three billion dollars, so he can pay the housekeeper to do it.

ok, goodnight.

it’s incremental.

it’s incremental.

getting shit done: the building blocks.

“a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Confucius

i love starting projects. the brainstorming. the new ideas springing forth like athena from zeus. the world rolling out at my feet. the wind in my hair. everything opens up. there’s a palpable sense of possibility. the sun breaks through the clouds. nothing can stop me. except the next step of the project (but i’ll address this discursively).

and there are a lot of ideas out there. some fall away (or get shot down by well-meaning friends–never tell people your unhatched ideas), some you nurse and coo into being, and others seem to arrive fully-formed and raise themselves. choosing to support the project whose brilliance shines through you is wise. the strength of the project and of your conviction will naturally attract the generous assistance of others, and we want to be part of something bigger.

so you choose a project. wind in hair. high as a kite. etc. it’s likely you’ll eventually hit a point of resistance. what happens then? you and your big ideas. you dreamer, you. what were you thinking? all the right things. just too fast. and it’s dangerous when you’re that high.

so i’ve spent a lot of years with big ideas. and turned a few of them into big projects. and struggled with frustration and resistance and doubt. and i’ve discovered a secret. the best way i’ve found to bring an idea to fruition is to move in (almost imperceptible) increments with unshakable dedication to the smallest of efforts.

example: eating one dozen donuts in a sitting. you can’t do that shit all at once. you start with a bite a day. within a few weeks, you could be eating dozens of donuts per day. mmm, heart attack.

example: you aspire to cover your entire house with small colorful sticky dots for a very large game of finger Twister. whee!

example: one day you could hold the world’s record for the most jumps on a pogo stick.

example: worldwide nuclear disarmament and ensuing reign of peace.

example: thinking of a lot of examples.

example: learning esperanto. actually, that’s dumb. don’t bother.

slow and steady. slow and steady.

how to have more time than you know what to do with

how to have more time than you know what to do with

getting shit done, chapter 14: email

ok, so having more time than you know what to do with. today i didn’t check my email.

that’s it. i didn’t check my email. i worked on a poster, i edited some video, i looked up the weather. i didn’t check my email. i met with a friend, i did some writing, i met with another friend, i did some reading, i ate some food, i went to work, i paid some bills, i played my ukulele, i called some friends, and i had SO MUCH TIME! as the day wore on, i found myself pulled more and more toward the email. it felt kind of like yom kippur (the one day every year jews fast and pray all day and atone for our sins). sort of holy, sort of empty, sort of reflective, sort of humbling. every time i defeated the urge to check my email, i felt triumphant, and ready to take on the world, and maybe first check my email. because i miss the spam. i miss getting hounded with a days worth of ads for cialis and hoodia and junk bonds. i miss knowing i clicked to saved the polar bear and the alaskan wildlife and the first amendment. i miss getting the lowdown about registering my cell phone on the do not call list. i miss the seven emails from the class clown in the comedy newsgroup who has to make fun of the spelling mistake in the last post. i miss those emails from people i never see and wouldn’t call (because they lie just beyond that realm of relate-ability) who want to say a long lost hello. i miss clicking. i’ve never smoked a cigarette, but i imagine the act of clicking ‘get mail’ has a really similar effect on the brain. i guess with a cigarette, it’s like you’re always getting new mail.

the art of getting shit done is really about getting shit done so you can experience life. what are we trying to get at here? we’re getting at letting go of the shit we didn’t want to do in the first place but somehow felt obligated to in order to get to the shit we want to do. i like to ask myself, ‘what’s essential?’ i like to ask myself this question on a regular basis, and be brutally honest and yet deeply compassionate with myself at the same time (which i’m about to do for you now, because i’m an artist and i consider it my job to expose my thought process to the light of day for various reasons).

so why am i doing what i’m doing at this moment? what’s the purpose of this action? how am i feeling at this moment? what’s the purpose of this feeling? (right now, i’m thinking i want to raise my level of awareness by writing about this, but i’m also thinking, maybe people will read it and identify with it and like me. and what’s the purpose of that? if they like me, will i then feel ok? nope. won’t change anything. ok, then is the writing of this worth doing in itself?) i don’t change anything. i just ask. the other day i went to rainbow grocery to get some fruit-sweetened chocolate malt balls and some lunch. it was very important. it was in the middle of my day. i needed to eat, but did i need to go all the way to rainbow? how much writing time did i use on that trip? i still went. this is what’s new: i was conscious. and i didn’t even eat the malt balls until yesterday. and fuck, they were fruit-sweetened. can i get any healthier?