Getting What Done: An Explanation of *in the generous sense*

I totally thought I was done with this little productivity series, but I had an idea, that I think is neat. So here it is:

imagine, if you will, the following scene from a movie

"I never get anything done," he said while holding a book open on his lap as he idly flipped through a dozen open windows on his computer, most of them filled with text.

"Oh really?" I ask. He's clearly doing something. "What are you doing now,"

"Reading a few things and sketching out some notes, but it's not real." We've almost reached the level of a "wine".

"If that's not real, then what counts?" I hate this role I have to take in conversations with myself, but I think this sentence is a bit to meta for my tastes; it's about to end.

"Well, you know, reading and writting, I guess."

"Kinda like what you're already doing?"

"Yes, but more."

This odd little conversation that I had with myself, is a pretty good example of what I'm hoping to talk about here. I for one, know that I have a fairly specific definition of "what it means to get things done," even though much of what I do, contributes to "getting things done," even (and ususally) if I don't tend to think about this work as, being, somehow "real"

A year and a half ago, I read an article in a class that addressed the age old question of "what it is, exactly, that academics do?" After all, for those not involved in academia, it's almost hard to imagine that professors have enough to do to fill up their time. While I'm not arguing that professor folk have it hard (you'd think though that they'd be able to get me comments back on a couple of papers, though, don't you? sigh.), because it's a cushy job in many ways, just that it's hard to understand what professor folk do most of the day. The article argued that we should give ourselves credit for all of the work "in the generous sense" that we do. While we might have a tendency to think of academic work as "reading, writing, and teaching" there are a lot of other things that have to be done: "Mettings are work, responding to email is work, and so forth. I'm sure you could all come up with a list of things that you do, regularly, that aren't related to your projects but that have to get done just the same. This would be "work in the generous sense," and the reason why we're talking about it here is that there should be an alowance in ones productivity system (be it GTD or otherwise) for such work.

The term "in the generous sense" cought on amongst my friend group and it quickly became the adverbial clause de jour in our friend group. So it seemed like the obvious choice when it came time to think of a new slogan for TealArt. Conversely, the line "awkward, but endearingly colloquial" was an actual comment that I recived on on of my papers, and I liked it enough to add it as a tag line.

But back about "work in the generous sense," the kernel for this week's entry, is to count, recognize, and even plan everything you do, not just the prime things, because you're going to do them anyway, and once you've included all of the tertiary actions it becomes easier to manage time and feel like you've done something. I've been known to put things like "pack book-bag with (x, y, and z)" or "shower" or "laundry" on my list for the day. These are things that I don't typically need reminders to do, but it's helpful to remember when I'm trying to fit other things into my schedule, or more often when I sit down at the end of the day and say "g-d, what did I do with all my time."

Just a little something, and frankly I'm not sure if this is all that far out of the GTD framework, in the general category of "keeping your mind empty, and not using your brain as your system" but there you have it in any case...

I'm on spring break this week, so with luck I'll be doing a little bit more work.

cheers, tycho

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