It’s amazing what a 9k text file will do for your peace of mind. I finally got around to making a list of Projects like I’ve been meaning to. While I’m nearly religious about keeping a task list, I’ve never bothered to capture those multi-step projects in one place. What bothers me is why I waited so long.
For one, it’s not as fun. Friends see me all the time whipping out my notepad to jot a little tidbit down. I admit, there’s an addictive element to it. I’m writing shit down. Then I go and check them off. It’s enjoyable. I’m on top of things. But when I’m faced with all my Great Ideas that I can’t do in 2 minutes… Eek. I’m basically procrastinating on a larger scale. I’m choosing workiness over fulfillment.

David Allen talks about this in Productive Talk on procrastination that he recorded with Merlin Mann. Allen paraphrases some ideas from the book The War of Art. Listen to it, right around the 2:30 mark:

The thing that is closest to your soul is the thing you’re going to avoid the most. The thing that will tap into the part of you that has not yet come to the fore but wants to be expressed but you’re so afraid of it: you will absolutely find every single thing in your life to avoid doing that… You might actually have to show up.

It’s just plain embarrassing to see what I’ve neglected. About 85% of what I have on my Projects list is over 2 weeks old. Ouch. While none of it has blown up, it’s still broken promises to myself. It’s just me and Projects.txt and the Deep Truths™ of my existence.

The upside is, while Projects.txt is currently a chronicle of failure-to-date, it can also be a manifesto. Onward and upward.

4 thoughts on “Projects.txt

  1. Careful Mark. My mom warned me by telling me about my grandfather’s basement — stacks and stacks and stacks of corporate papers, among many of the papers were hundreds of lists. Some things crossed off, some things not.Have to say, I think I’m a bit skeptical about the whole GTD movement (though I haven’t looked too much into it). I don’t present myself as one who has mastered his own use of time (I am a young high school teacher buried under papers and plans).But the way I see out is not to plan so heavily as much as to let go of commitments, expectations, the rat race. Maybe that’s what y’all are saying anyway with Tim’s workiness idea … so maybe we’re reaching the same endpoint.Anyway, figure I would chime in. Cheers, and good luck.

  2. He lives!Yes, part of the idea of Projects.txt is to say “What have I gotten myself into?” Whether it’s officially public, or just a great idea that I’ve sorta kinda thought about doing, they all need decisions. I’ve gone back over it and done a hefty amount of post-poning and just plain deleting forever. And that, as you can imagine, feels gooooood.

  3. I credit this sort of thing with my big quarter-life transformation, especially when viewed through the GTD philosophy – writing all of those projects down gets them out of your head, freeing up mental processing speed. I freed up a lot of head space with my lists of both tasks and projects, and if anything I need to be *more* diligent now that I’m better at being organized, lest things fall through the cracks and I start slowing down once again.

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