My systems tend to become complicated with time. Computer folders don't have a limit to what you can put inside, so they can grow without control. Especially when you are trying all kind of different stuff in all kind of areas all the time.
A simple solution I've found is creating a folder named /000_previous_system in each of my areas (the initial 000 is to make sure the folder stays on top in the list).
What I do is: when I have an idea on how to simplify one of my systems, I put everything I don't remember what was for inside that folder. My systems become that way very simple, no more than 3-8 items per folder, one of them this 000 folder. That way, I can always "fish" later something I remember I worked upon, when the moment comes. It feels like shopping, it gives you a great feeling of wealth entering that folder where so much good work has already been done and you just have to dust it off and put it to work again.
I guess this system is similar in a way to, 5S's "Red label" in Lean: they use it to mark stuff that is no longer useful, which is usually given a deadline and then thrown away or stored in a more permanent location out of the gemba. With computers, however, and their files being so lightweight, you can take the "luxury" of not throwing anything away - heck, those files are filled with hours of devoted energy! But there is a delicate balance, because you can also become a bit of a "hostage" of the capability of create files so easily in the computer. Having this kind of kitchen sink folder makes it easy to take out of the way what you don't need to see right now.
I have been guilty in the past of deleting away files just for the sake of clarity. Well, the way to simplicity is not always simple, and that won't happen again.
When you acknowledge change, and the capability to change, as something important and valuable, it is important to start by making the changes easy to happen for you. The best tricks are often the simplest, and this one works very well for me.
There are "push" and "pull" tasks. Most of the people are starters but not finishers because often pulls turn into push, so they give up the effort when it stops being easy, and move on to some other fresh thing.
I want to finish stuff, so dealing with this push-pull thing (and noticing when the change happens) is an important matter to me.
Something I've been using lately has been setting a countdown timer for nasty tasks. But recently I had a realization about the way I used it that to me felt like turning a sock the other way round.
At first, I obliged myself to do 30 or 60 mins of the thing that I hate. The reasoning behind is that, that way, I guarantee at least that amount of advance every day, in a field that is not gratifying but that I feel necessary to pursue.
The first questioning of that method came because of the natural division of certain tasks; if a boring "frog" I have to swallow takes me 21 or 25 minutes, it doesn't make sense to stick around after the task is done, only to feel "disciplined".
So then it came to me: how about if the countdown timer is not a minimum but a maximum?
The image I envision for those tasks is a radioactive chamber. You enter there with protective gear, and an eye always on the clock because you cannot stay there for longer than a certain period without suffering health consequences.
This change in the way of seeing things puts the actor above the action. I think this has important consequences regarding respect for oneself. I guess we all suffer that kind of tasks, those that drain you like the big baddie at the end of a videogame level, you can see the energy bar going down pa pa pa...
But no matter how disgusting the task is, like this you can always tell yourself: well, in half an hour tops it will be over for today. In fact, setting a countdown like this challenges yourself to be smart to get the thing done as efficiently as possible to get out of there quickly.
This technique must be used strategically, but the funny thing about it is that, although it's a self imposed limitation, it provides me with a great feeling of abundance and comfort.
Very sad news. I thought we still had a few years together, and maybe a couple of albums.
But, as it happens with the dear people you actually meet, when you've had a long acquaintance and the moments have been good, the pain at some point gives in to a certain state of serenity, of comformity; it was good being alive while you were alive, Mr. Cohen.
Last Saturday, in a sort of ceremony of remembrance, I went through YouTube doing a sort of "journey to the seed" thing. Listening to Cohen's works, as memory suggested them, starting in the final album "You want it darker", published only 3 weeks ago, and working my way backwards. Some of those songs never fail to make me cry, and naturally, this time was no exception. Here is the list (the cronology from 1989 backwards is a garbled mess):
Steer your way
You want it darker
Ain't no cure for love
Don't go home with your hard-on
Who by fire
There is a war
Lover, lover, lover
Sing another song, boys
Love calls you by your name
There are no diamonds in the mine
Last Year's man
Tonight will be fine
Sisters of mercy
So Long Marianne
Bird on a wire
Hey that's no way to say goodbye
Brain plasticity, the great human perk, does not come without a price; there is a toll to be paid in effort (attention is energy), whenever we switch from one "mode" to another. Optimus Prime does not become a truck or viceversa unless he has to, because there is some effort involved in every metamorphosis.
That's what make so useful and necessary to find some kind of mental tool that allows you to "zoom out" from one matter and then "zoom in" quickly on the next: "what was that I was trying to do here? Oh yes, I remember now"
I've been documenting here my latest efforts to divide rationally my activities into specialized "departments" or "personalities", in wait for the moment when I can hand over gladly the things I don't enjoy doing to some other assistant (In doing that I've found that, the more a task or area of my life bores/frightens me, the more it gets benefitted by some structured thinking; you make the habits, and then the habits make you, really).
So I've come with this structure that is my own personal remix of the different GTD and TPS wisdoms I've been through in the latest years. I apply them not only in music, but in other "departments" of this business of life of mine:
Similar to GTD's areas of focus, but kinda looking at myself as a 'company' full of 'internal customers'. An example I posted about was the engineer.
All of them started by the same declaration, that goes something like this: "Why do we do this, why do we exist, what difference do we make, why do we take the effort to do these tasks that are such pain in the ass?"
One time things (GTD's strong point, perhaps?)
Things that I do periodically as they bring value to my life, in the department I'm discusssing
I go through this "routine" every time I go into one my formalized modes, and it works every time to put me on the track and place my focus in the right place.