Less Review, More Longview

On the heels of reading Patrick Rhone’s excellent new book, I’ve found myself thinking more about what I want and need to be doing with my time rather than just what I think I want and need to be doing with my time. At this point in my life the goals I’m setting are many, but they are often wrapped up in a large folder – there a plenty of little ones that ultimately lead to the ultimate goal of X.

One of my initial goals was to make a living as a writer. I’m doing that now, so you could say that now the goal is to make a living as a writer that writes about what he loves to write about. But that really has always been the goal. My goal was never to just write for a living, but before I could spend more and more time writing about what I love writing about, I needed to write about some stuff that I didn’t.

Enter the review.

Don’t get me wrong. I love testing out new apps, reading new books and experimenting with processes. What I don’t like is to write about all of that all the time. By doing that, I end up spending more time reviewing things and less time using the things I am familiar with to make the things I really want to make. This is all part of why I am decluttering – and also why it isn’t happening as rapidly as it first was. I want to spend time on writing the book, developing that script, refocussing my efforts at Eventualism and developing talks to deliver. I have an app that handles my tasks.1 I have a calendar I like using. I have a text editor that I use on each platform.

I have…enough.

Again, that isn’t to say I won’t tinker or review things. I will – but only if I am drawn to them and they will be backburner items. I’ll also write a longer form review or chronicle of my experience with the app, book or process – kind of like the “30 Days With” series over at Lifehack. I think that we need more of these kind of reviews rather than the “here’s this new thing that just came out and here’s my thoughts about it” reviews that I’m as guilty of writng as the next person.

I want to spend more time on the “longview” and less time on the “review”. I don’t want to get caught up in the doing; I want to get caught up in the making.

Last night we recorded an upcoming episode of Mikes on Mics with CJ Chilvers as our guest, and after we were done I started to write down all of the things that I knew I had to do on paper. Yep. The very Maruman notebook I received a few months back was filling up with tasks, projects and ideas that I wanted to get out of my head and onto paper so I could really look at them. When I looked at them, this is what I saw:

  1. The things I’d been putting off were first to hit the paper. Not just “had to” items, but “want to” items.
  2. The things I do normally showed up next. Writing for this weblog, editing for Lifehack, cooking dinner2, etc.
  3. The things I had thought I’d forgotten came up next. This was the longest part of the process and actually required me to go back into both Asana and OmniFocus (moreso the latter) to so I could get them in front of me on paper.

Then I began to cull. Here’s how that went down:

  1. I crossed off a lot of the “want to” items that first came to mind. They’d been stagnant for a while, and if they came back to me later during another “brain purge”, then I’d be that much more likely to take steps to bring them closer to reality. I also knew that by isolating the “had to” items, I’d get them done sooner and would be able to create more of that time and space I need to, say, write that screenplay.
  2. I crossed off everything that I do regularly. The routine stuff was removed because it was already so ingrained that I don’t need to record it. I know I need to write here and edit at Lifehack. It’s part of my daily workflow. The familiar isn’t what needs highlighting; it’s the unfamiliar that does because you run a greater risk of letting that slip through the cracks if you don’t capture it somewhere, somehow.
  3. A lot of culling here as well. Much like the first example, doing this freed my mind up to get the “had to” stuff taken care of, and the items here now have a greater chance of returning because I took the time to revisit them with this exercise – something I hadn’t done in eons.

Finally, I got to work. The “had to” items became done. The routine was executed. That was my day – getting that stuff out of the way so I could invite some of the “want to” stuff back in. Keep in mind that some of the “had to” stuff was once a “want to” without a commitment elsewhere attached at some point in time that had suddenly become a “had to/want to” hybrid. My book would be an example of that.

Incidentally, I didn’t see a single review on my “want to” list, but there were a few on my “had to” list.

So while I’m not eliminating reviews from my workflow, I am going to be far more selective. I’ve got still quite a few to deliver (some here, some elsewhere on the web), and I’ll be doing those over the next 30 days. After that, I’ll leave more of the reviewing to those who love doing them or want to do them on an ongoing basis.

I’ve got bigger things to try.

Photo credit: Gord McKenna (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

1 Speaking of which…
2 Ironically, perhaps, I’ll be trying out Kyle Baxter’s new app, Basil. Looks very sharp.