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Monday, August 20, 2012

Change is a-brewing for the Van Horn family. In the next couple of months, we'll be packing up for a move to the Midwest during October. With change, lists and a chance for reflection and renewal always come -- and sometimes real insight follows. On that note, I link to three interesting, short articles related to productivity and change.

First, Joshua Gross warns us against the "'Work' Trap":

For many people, "doing work" is easy in comparison to these activities: it's known, familiar, expected, and the best part is that it's also time consuming and "productive." In reality, doing these things could be equally -- if not more -- beneficial than just attempting to get more work done.
I like his solution, and not just because it isn't yet another list of things to dump into some system or another.

Second -- and speaking of lists! -- Vivek Haldar decries "productivity porn":
[W]hat do you need a system for? You need it for chores. The stuff you don't want to do, but you need to. The stuff which is easy put off but will hurt in due time. Stuff like paying bills and calling customer service.

Do not confuse activity for progress. Sometimes blind activity can be a palliative, a false reassurance that we are moving forward. It takes courage to stop and ask if what is being done is actually having any impact -- on our lives and our work and our happiness. We know the answer will often make us wince.
Third and last comes an interesting article about the importance of taking time off for the sake of genuine productivity. I doubt too many people will be able to enjoy the kind of schedule 37signals affords its employees, but the central inight from the article is something I have noticed before:
When there's less time to work, you waste less time. When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what's important. Constraining time encourages quality time.
As you might guess from the title, we're landing in St. Louis soon. Knowing that we would be leaving Boston around this time and having to focus so much on our baby daughter, I have to admit that I've allowed myself to fall a little bit into a rut in some respects. Aside from the insane cost of living here, I'll miss Boston. However, even without having read any of these articles, and despite being a creature of habit, I have found myself, deep down, welcoming the upheaval of our upcoming move. I think I have a clearer idea of why.

It is interesting to consider the following point: Most of the annoying little chores that come with this move will end up on lists, but the heavy mental lifting will require few, if any, entries. (I will use my journal for some of it.) Which will have a greater impact on my life, in the grand scheme of things?

-- CAV

P.S. If any St. Louisans follow this blog, feel free to contact me if you might want to connect some time after we move.

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