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The more/less list

Sunday, May 06, 2007

One of the most powerful (and deceptively simple) principles of productivity is having lists that are reviewed periodically. A system like GTD offers a bare-bones framework for core lists, but lately I've been slowly adding to the number of lists I create and review -- especially for tracking things that are more vague or abstract than projects and actions. One of these is the "more/less" list.

Basically, the idea is to keep track of things of which you want more and things of which you want less. These can be anything, but I find it especially useful when applied to analyzing input. At a certain point, you will feel like you are capturing, processing and acting on all the moving parts in your life. You will have a comprehensive inventory and will be moving through things with a nice sense of control. But you may still not be getting the particular results you want, and I think a lot of this comes down to controlling input in a certain way. If you are committed to dealing with everything that comes in and are in fact doing so, you eventually need to adjust some different sorts of knobs to modify input so that it matches your higher level objectives. If certain incoming items cause a strong reaction, whether positive or negative, I find these are good candidates for the more/less list (Ask yourself - "Do I want more stuff like this, or less?").

Reviewing the more/less list is essentially a trigger for brainstorming, and I review mine during my weekly review. For each item, I think of ways I can modify processes and communications to alter what sort of input I am getting. There are usually no instant results with these sorts of changes, and some could be very slow to change (taking months or even years), but I find this additional list offers a simple but effective way to exert a little more control on some very subtle factors.

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Posted by murt at 7:22 PM  |  0 comments  |  links to this post

Pedestrian processes

Thursday, February 08, 2007

My last post may have made it sound like I am just going to throw process out the window altogether and just get along based solely on a handful of heuristics. That's close, but not quite it.

The problem with process is that it can tend to become overly complicated. Complexity that you don't really need just saps your productivity. On the other hand, if something is totally freeform, with no process at all, you will miss out on the opportunity for leveraging efficiency.

So, my goal is to have processes that are as unobtrusive and pedestrian as possible.

I find things like simple lists and checklists are often enough to do the job. And if they are applied consistently and methodically, they let you work through things without much thought - and you might even be able to think about something else while mindlessly working your way down the list.

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Posted by murt at 11:04 PM  |  0 comments  |  links to this post