15 March 2007

[liff] Taskfreaking, GTD and Lifehacking

744 I'll admit, I'm not terribly good at 'lifehacking'. Which is a shame; of all the lives I know, mine requires perhaps the most; I could nominate myself as a canonical example of the spirit being willing and the flesh being weak.

As I used to tag this blog with "The only things standing between me and my goals are me...and my goals."

Strictly speaking, I'm expanding a bit on a definition that has spread somewhat since the nomenclature was coined. I have a subjective take on it; over time, I've come on board the definition of the "hacker" as someone who does brilliant undocumented and ad hoc things, and slowly adapted to the thought of its opposite being a "cracker", though the simple unreconstructed term vandal should serve.

I digress in the interest of exposition.

Anyhow, the idea of hacking in the traditional sense (the positive, "elegant and impressive solution to a difficult problem" sense) appeals to me. For various reasons, off-the-shelf solutions are not always that available; moreover it appeals to me in the self-sufficient abstract sense).

All this rambling is coming down to the concept of what I see as discipline. This, to me, is the idea of staying focused on what you are doing that you believe will get your there. Discipline is a worthwhile thing in this wise, and one has a lot of enemies in keeping discipline in.

Illegitimati non carborundum, they say. Noble thought. Trouble is, the illegitimati never give up.

Hacking, discipline, illegitimati non carborundum, all this, and me being actually quite a lazy person...mix it all together and let's see what this woolgathering and thinking out loud has gotten me.

Land of the Lazy

James Blish, in the Cities in Flight saga (more particularly the book Earthman, Come Home) introduces us to the character of Mark Hazleton, the city manager of New York City.

For those who haven't read it, this is Blish at his height, not the Blish of those risible Star Trek script adaptation omnibuses or the bizarre first Star Trek novel, Spock Must Die. The story of the cities in flight was speculative SF at its best, using an imaginary future history to look back on the socioeconomic history of the first third of the 20th Century, when the spindizzy gives humankind supraluminal travel with trivial limitations, and cities become migrant workers amongst the stars. Fleeing a permanently-economically-depressed Earth of the 28th Century, New York City is one of them. Due to the anagathic pharmaceutical ascomycin, people also live hundreds (some more than a thousand) years, as does the mayor of New York, the main character of the 2nd half of the saga. Working under him is Mark Hazelton, a lanky, laid back fellow who has to be eminently successful to rise to the level of city manager in a flying Okie town, who nonetheless Mayor John Amalfi inwardly describes as the kind who takes "lazy man's pains".

That phrase speaks loudly to me. I tend to laziness; it's a fight I fight every day (and lose abound as much as I win). What I do tend to do is try to take care of as much as I can as quickly as I can; that way, when I can be lazy, I've enabled that option.

The benefit of taking lazy man's pains is that you sometimes look quite industrious. Perception is the reality (Oh, my, the secret's out!!!).

While I haven't quite cracked the nut yet, I do realize that any system of instilling discipline for myself that will sustain me and move me on will be one that enables my habit of taking lazy man's pains. I think I've found one method and one tool that may help me keep my focus on things.

Taskfreaking and GTDing

One thing that I was introduced recently to is an FOSS web-based PHP app called TaskFreak!.

TaskFreak!. What a cool name. The exclamation point comes standard with it.

While it's meant to do serious things, it has an irreverent streak in it. That appeals.

To cases, then; TaskFreak! is a an application that allows you to organize what you want to get done along the lines of projects and tasks, attach attributes like contexts and spaces for notes and comments, and have an instantly recognizable status update right on your web-browser window.

It's fun to use. It does require you to have access to a database server such as MySQL (which I've installed on my home machine and the workstation at the design job), and I'm finding MySQL so damn useful I'll be installing it wherever I go from here on out, and I'm digressing again, anyway, as I said, it's fun to use and quite intuitive. I don't have to use all its features in order to get benefits from it.

This dovetails with something I've stumbled on which needs no flogging from me as it's already quite the rage; I imagine that everyone who's likely to read this post probably already knows about it. I just found out about it. It meets me where I live–in the land of the lazy man's pains. that thing, of course, is GTD–Getting Things Done. It's the land of such hugely popular places such as 43Folders.com; Wikipedia, of course, has an entry on it.

Here's where it and TaskFreak! meet me in the Land of the Lazy: Simple, simple, simple. Get it and get it down, don't fuss and fret too much with organization; just get it out of your head and on paper (or onto Taskfreak!, as the case happens to be). Then, do it, delegate it, or defer it. If I can't make of it an action thing, file it for reference, ashcan it, or sit on it until I can handle it.

This is the prefect intersection of motion and comfort zone that I need...at least it sure looks that way.

In the past I've gone gung-ho on personal managment to get myself into the space I've wanted to be, with the concomitant burnout when I run out of gas. This method respects my style; I can get gung-ho, but I dont have to start out that way.

I might be able to do something with this stuff.

  1. Taskfreak!
  2. 43 Folders
  3. Getting Things Done
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