Well, I really just posted this as something that's working for me with the hope that it might be of use to someone else.
I really didn't expect a disagreement, especially since you don't list any alternatives that you thinks might work better.
Yeah, to be honest, I didn't really want to prolong my reply so I omitted alot of things I wanted to say. Also, it just doesn't fit since this thread is more about creating the application rather than scrutinizing the concept.Edit:
Previews currently written post:
*Gets a headache *inhales deeply...*
"oh well... long post it is "
hmm...I don't know about getting spanked, but yes, avoiding punishment does motivate me. Why shouldn't it? Why else do people pay their bills, show up for traffic court, or make bank deposits? Fear. Nothing wrong with that, if it's saving you money, time and of course, your self respect.
Just like doing most homework, these things aren't about becoming productive or managing time or getting things done.
These things are either about "feeling organized" (even if you are only slightly disorganized) or are about having a life manager. (which is pretty much what feeds the life coaching business)
The problem is that the first can be fixed as tsaint alluded to by jumping around doing something, stopping at something and doing something again. It's like school when you first started out. You do all these things that you hope would be necessary and only a couple of things like alphabet, basic math and writing stick around until
you move to an advanced course where you pretty much forget what you've learned and let your passion/fear of chaos move you forward until you pretty much retained what was retained or kept making yourself habituated into a routine.
The problem with roulette instead of productivity though, is that it won't really open you up to tackling problems. Most people aren't going to question whether the bills they are paying are the most optimum. Most people who go to court aren't really being noble about following the law for the better of the law. It's just routine for them to either use it to gain an advantage or use it to preserve the law they never think about when they go home watching TV. Most people who deposit to a bank rarely go beyond considering the stability of their banks until a recession slaps them in the face.
The whole thing is not about having a "to-do" list, the whole thing is about having a "must-do" list. Going further past that, a must do list is inefficient because most people who want to be productive in things they must do often do so because reality slaps them so hard in the face, they must do things without having the opportunity to really think about improving or doing well what it is they always have been doing. They just have to do it.
That kind of defeats the purpose of a productivity system because you're asking for the system (or in this case, a program) to do the things you only need a reminding of. Not necessarily the things that will make you become productive or put you in a situation where you will become more productive.
Even if you do agree with this concept, as tsaint alludes to, it's a losing battle because you're just convincing your mind "to fake the stress" instead of having a real motivation unless you have a real life threatening scenario.
Simply put, it is in my opinion that you're never going to create a software To-do list of Doom for everyone unless that program will wipe out your entire hard disk if you don't finish a task you put in there.
...And that's where the irony of the matter comes in:
I wasn't so much disagreeing with your post (as your post supports the theme of what a To-do List of Doom should be) but that I was disagreeing with tsaint's solution even if I agreed with him.
...that's kinda confusing.Let me hope to simplify by chronologizing:
>I disagree with this thread but I didn't want to express it because I understand that people would disagree with me here and it's not really productive to state a disagreement with the concept since the thread is not about making a poll but in creating an application that fits with said concept (that I disagree with)
>>I replied to tsaint with the intent of disagreeing with his solution and not so much with your post.
>>>Unfortunately because tsaint and I have something we agree with, I ended up criticizing your post.
...and now I pretty much don't know whether I should apologize or clarify my opinions.
I really do sincerely want to apologize but I don't want to come off as doing it just to appease your feelings. It's just that this is one of those cases where even if I disagreed with your system, I didn't really reply with the intent to criticize it.
Sure it does.
'Want' and 'don't want' are two sides of the same coin, are they not?
I don't think so.
I mean... I get the idea of what you're saying but for me it's more "do" and "don't do" are two sides of the same coin.
Your two examples are kind of hard to address though as they're not things I normally do but I'll try:
Example 1: The mail
I hate mailing birthday cards, I'm afraid they'll never reach their destination. I hate my handwriting. Maybe they're expecting a gift. Anxiety. Procrastination. But, if I want to let someone know they're being thought of on their birthday, I can put their card on the door until it's filled out and sent smiley. The punishment for not doing so is feeling guilty and weak for succumbing to my own silly little fears.
See, if the issue was that want/don't want were the same coin, "IMHO" your punishment would be the thought of making that person unhappy or sad.
Following this trail of thought, if you want to mail them a birthday card, you would do so. If you don't want to mail them a birthday card, you would find another way to make them happy or achieve whatever it is you want.
However if the issue was in "doing" the action. The case would be that if you want to do something, you would already find the right motivation to do it. If you don't want to do something, then you would need to create a situation where you will either want to do it or want to get it over with.
In this case, by putting the birthday card where you can see it (or where you must do it), it generates an annoyance that desensitizes you from your fear, enough so that you need less will
to "get it over with".
This matches with the idea that two opposing things can come close to being just opposite sides of the same thing.
In this case, you figured out that in the right frame of mind, you will do something you won't normally do IF you put yourself in a situation where you must do it and vice versa.
The only thing where "want/don't want" comes into play is because we often like to think that something we do is often something we want when in reality, we often don't need to think whether our wants is being addressed as long as we do the stuff or we put it in a list that sends the message to our brain to do the stuff.
That is why, as confusing as the whole thing is, this is not a case where want/don't want is the issue but on whether you "did and didn't do" the task. You're basically transferring your wants into a false want which is..."wanting to do everything that you put on this list you consider as a todo."
Even if you don't want something...by putting it in this list/system, you're saying to yourself that you must want it... until you don't really want to and delete the entry or throw away the list.
Therefore want/don't want being on the same side of the coin don't come into play with this situation.
It is also why you would normally jump to the conclusion that the punishment is in being guilty because rather than in focusing on achieving your want, your thought is in doing what's on the list and if you weren't able to do it, you would feel guilty because you weren't able to do it.
That's also why some people can become stressed with their to-do lists.
Nevertheless, it's a confusing issue. One that needs separate article on their own.
Things like false want was something I was originally going to make a long post out of titled: Give "fake" meaning to your life.
and alot of the things you said and I said are part of the snippets I've written about when I was originally planning to write a 10 commandments of Productivity.
Just some of the not fully fleshed out snippets I have under there are:Out of sight, out of mind. (Not: In your list, in your life)
Point C is not Point B
Finished is not checked off. Checking off is not finished. Finished is being able to build a ship to go to an island where you're unfinished.
The secret is not willing things by doing things.
When you want to get things done, write it down where you will want to see them.
As you can hopefully see, it's really not something I feel I am able to comfortably address without going into lengths. (...and even with unlimited length, I feel I have not really become productive in such a way that I can completely addressed these concepts.)
Hopefully even with these problems, you kind of got some of the idea where I'm coming from.
Example 2: the vet
Seeing my cat frightened, yowling and in caged up is very upsetting to me...but I want to take care of her, so I put her vet appt. cards on the door to remind myself to prepare for them, and take her in. The punishment for not doing this is that I could cause her to suffer preventable health problems. And knowing I'm being a hypocrite ("I love my cat sooo much".). Right.
This is even harder in that I never had a pet that I was responsible for and I don't really know what vet appt. cards do.
If there's a similar theme, it is that by focusing more on the want (in this case because you're trying to argue more from the "don't want" position), you started listing some of the things you normally won't think about of a task and realize that there are alot of things you can miss by just doing those tasks.
Had you wanted to bring your pet to the vet under such a system or turned your pet into a general statistic and get the task over with (like the first example), the words preventable "health problems" wouldn't have hit your radar. (or not so much depending on how much you love your pet)
By focusing on the "don't want", you were able to realize "why" you want something done. By focusing on that, you opened yourself to the possibilities of health issues and it could potentially lead you to the interest of researching on health problems your vet normally won't notice...and that could lead you to different cat-related issues that could possibly benefit your pet. (Kind of similar in that browsing wikipedia would lead you to other issues you weren't originally reading if you dig in it long enough)
At the same time, it also lead you to addressing something you feel made you a hypocrite. (Although you lost me on that one.)
Had you had a system where you will be "annoyed". Even if these thoughts started entering your mind, the annoyance could lead you to forget about these issues and make you focus on the current task at hand. (unless you're extremely good at jotting everything in your head)
Similarly, if you have a lot of pending tasks, you won't easily be able to focus on the issue of why you want/don't want to do a certain task. Habit will pretty much convince you to jot down the task and put it there and deal with it in a do/didn't do fashion and the want issue is left spinning on the table, hoping the metal ball would land in such a way that you would contemplate on the task that would make you productive.
Finally, I think this example also addresses the fact that sometimes we have wants that would require us doing something we don't want and vice versa and if you have a system based on annoyance, you better hope you don't have lots of tasks or the current task you are doing is the right task you should be focusing all your resources on.
Pretend? I very much needed this system. I made it up for myself, & it's worked for long enough that I think it's worthy of being posted.
People are really surprised now when they remind me of something, that it's already -done-.
Oh. I didn't mean it that way. I mean in the sense of pretending as in creating a false purpose for what would normally be things you don't need such a system for.
It's not that the system will be so ineffective that you won't need it, it's that these systems can sometimes be only necessary for a few tasks but unnecessary/unhelpful for most but because it's effective in some problem tasks, a person would apply it for most of the problems they normally don't need such a system for.
From a recommendation standpoint, it becomes problematic because sometimes these systems can't help in certain tasks but because the person doing it, can already handle it, they don't notice it when recommending the system to another person until the other person encounters the issue with alot of their tasks.
That said, the issue of pretension is kind of iffy because I said it more as a way to address tsaint's point which was already based on a similar premise rather than a case of criticizing you or your system.
I don't know why, but I cannot tell you what's on my Outlook calendar; even if it mirrors what's in my wallet calendar, and I see it every day. But, I can tell you everything on my wallet calendar, at any given time. Even when I only look at it once a week. Weird, but paper can actually help some people.
If you may allow me to make an uneducated guess, I would say the trick is in your fingers. (or the motion of your body)
It's like typing on the keyboard without ever going through a touch typing lesson or knowing the basics. Do it long enough and your fingers kind of remembers where the letters are even if you aren't exactly going to beat a practicing touch typist.
The muscle memory/instinct just matches up with the action.
When you're doing it in Outlook, your body is instinctively training to focus your eyes on the monitor and learning how to input something into Outlook.
This is because as far as your body is concerned, what you're inputting in Outlook is no different than what you're inputting in Word or anything else. Your body is only remembering Monitor -> Locate Icon -> Open -> Wait for Pop-Up -> Push boxes/keyboard buttons.
There's no concept of insert because the senses don't match with the action. Your feeling sense/touch is going to the keyboard, your sight is in the monitor, your smell is nowhere, your hearing is hearing click, click, click mainly and your obviously not going to move your mouth.
With paper, two of your senses is going to the inputting tool and the paper.
Feel/Sight is both on the pencil/pen and on the paper.
Add to this, there's often very little distraction. Unless you're suddenly interrupted during that process, your mind is totally focused on input tool and paper.
When you recall that action, it's totally on tool then paper.
With Outlook it's multitasking on the keyboard then to the monitor then to the way your Outlook is setup combined with your keyboard combined with everything else your doing combined with your perception of what Outlook is doing based on your knowledge.
Too much interference.
Similarly this is why David Allen advises on visualizing on your brain dump notebook when you happen to not have a pen around when wanting to brain dump something. Just visualize the hand writing the task and you will remember nearly the same motion once you get to your pen and notebook.
Even a guy like me who has poor memory, I use this as a replacement bookmark when I'm reading a book.
As long as I'm reading two or three books, all I really need is to write the page number down on the cover of the book with my fingers, say the page number mentally in my head and 6 times out of 10, I'll get the right page. 8 times out 10, even if I forgot where I left off, I'm a few pages away from where I left off.@mouser
It's this creation of a cost function which is so significant because it means that one no longer has to exert "will power" to force yourself to do something -- it's become something that is it's own real reward.
This suggests that rather than try to force yourself into GOOD HABITS of doing what you rationally think you should do -- one might be better off trying to construct these subconscious costs functions that regulate what actions make you feel good and bad.
And it also suggests that maybe when we find it very hard to act in the way we want to in terms of getting things done, what we may be facing is a "malfunctioning cost function."
That's kinda strange mouser. From where I'm sitting, it kind of sounds like what happened was that you gained some good habits but then you said it's not about good habits so I'm kind of confused.