I’ve been thinking a lot about task avoidance. It’s an issue I suffer with – as do many people – in all areas of my life. It’s sometimes a minor thing: “I should really reply to that email but I need to compile some information first” becomes overwhelming for example. On occasion it’s more serious, like “Where do I even start with tidying the flat?” or “Why can’t I just write early so I can fix my sleep?”
So what can I do about it? Well I had an interesting thought today whilst playing House Flipper. For those not familiar, first of all go buy House Flipper. When you can of course but if you’re anything like me, you’ll be thanking me for saying so. It broke into my top-10 without breaking a sweat, and is my highest rated non-plot focused game of all time. In the game, you play as a home renovator, and your tasks vary from painting and decorating, to plumbing and electrical tasks, and even gardening with the DLC. And yes the DLC is worth it.
When you land in a level though, you do not see a list of all the tasks you have to do in one place. You instead roam around, and when you enter a room, the game gives you a to-do list of all the things you need to do, with a % completed counter above it. And as I was playing today, I remembered how in the book Getting Things Done by David Allen – a favourite of mine – he talks about having space focused task lists, all geared towards the next action you can actually take. In other words, a checklist that includes ‘call garage about an MOT quote’ but not ‘write, edit and publish three papers’. The latter might be a must do, but it’s multiple tasks, it’s not specific enough, and it’s not a quick task. ‘Quick wins’ are their own grey area of productivity – checking stuff off a list just to feel better or adding it just to immediately do so feels good but does not accomplish much – but earned satisfaction matters.
And I guess I just realised I really need to get a move on in implementing this. I think where I’ve gone wrong in the past is I make long lists, and they become overwhelming and just sit there. The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll has you write out your to dos again and again until they get done, and I think I’m starting to see why. While I’m not sure I want to burn through that many pages of my BuJo – and thanks to my paper issues it’s not a good task tracker, as I’ve found out – I need an app to do this. Or, do I? Could I say have a journal just for this?
Food for thought, at the end of a long and draining week, so imma go relax now and flip some more houses. I do think it’s time I heed these sources of advice though.