A Week on Order by Will Ringland

Week 3: Order

He that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night. Poor Richard’s Almanack

When I do not hydrate enough, which I do when I don’t got to the gym and whn I drink too much whisky, especially, late in the evening, I sleep so poorly that it is Herculean to rise at 5am according to my desired scheule. I am not Hercules; I’m probably closer in metaphporical relation to Gregarious of Gyro Wurld(1): minor importance, full of tzatziki.

Little changes in a day can make a difference. For instance, I sleep with Breathe-Rite strips because I have generalized congestion in the evenings. The previous two weeks, I had been using one tpe of strip and sleeping beautifully. This week, I used a different style that didn’t adhere as well and I sleept poorer. waking up at 5 was a chore and, not sleeping as well, racked up sleep deficit that impede each morning further.

I haven’t been able to go to the gym after an injury on Monday. No gym means bad hydration habits - exercise reminds me to drink actual water in an evening. Not gym reduces my mood and not enough water increases my nighttime congestion. So I sleep worse.

Whisky is an diuretic, it flushes water from your system.

You see where I’m going. All of these things compounded into a mediocre week. I didn’t have much energy or willpower to keep my daily or weekly goals in mind.

If we take Frankin’s meaning for Order by his short expression of it:

Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. I have been pretty good with the former and abysmal with the latter (on two fronts for the latter).

I’m pretty good at keeping an organized house. Alyska takes care of much of the tidying up and I try not to add any disarray by cleaning up after myself in the evenings. Most of my messy activities are confined to the kichen the nights that I cook so this week and the last, I’ve been making special effort to clean up the dishes the same night they’re used.

I mostly kept up with that. We had a few later nights because of errands and other plans(2) so did not clean as much as I intended. I played a little catchup on Wednesday but we were out celebrating Alyska’s birthday on Thursday and didn’t finish. Last night, I caught up with dishes but neglected other stuff about the house.

Ultimately, I think my issues with Order are more an issue with Resolve, which is the focus of next week. I am bad at sticking to a plan becaues of unforseen things happening in a day taking energy away.

Refering back to Franklin's definition of Order as a productivity tool, when much of your work is generated through other people, keeping productiv control can get messy. I manage both my QA team and part of the R&D team (sort of)but have no real autority over the latter from whom I inherit my core job responsibilities. I can only plan so much of my time so far in advance which is becoming increasingly problematic.

My job presents me with many (good) challenges and, as the company expert in a few areas, I’m regularly pulled into escalations with customers or governmental bodies. I enjoy it but it is stressful and pulls me away from other tasks. I’ve hit a point now where I must drastically reduce my responsibilities in a few areas so I can better manage my team and my ownership areas(3). It’s been a slow realization but I’ve got the ball rolling and I think by February I’ll be better able to own and execute the stuff I need to.

Suffice that it is nearly impossible to maintain Order in your business when you have to address lots of fires in a day. And having to shift between what other people need and what I need saps my will and reduces my effectiveness in everything I’m doing.

This week has made this starkly obvious. On Wednesday,I was starting to think I was just a shitty planner and resolutionary bungler. Today, I’m not so sure. I don’t plan as defensively as I could given what a typical workday resembles like plus the regular need for catchup(5). Attempting to do that plus stuff for Bunny Rope or clean the house or what ever else I am totally going to accomplish when iplan it at 6am is over-zealous.

It’s all a question of balance between resolution and relaxation. Yes, doing the dishes and tidying the house makes me feel good but sometimes I need Alyska and tacos and DVDs in bed.

We can addresss the frugality of that need later.

1. From Hercules the TV show. Herc gets a job at the Gyro Shop. There’s a bunch of bad jokes about the pronunciation of “gyro” which sounds like “hero” the latter of which is Herc’s desired job. Gregarious is the owner (4).

2. Tuesday night at a cigar bar with friends which ended in a bad night for temperance but a damn fun night for me. From my twitter feed: “I’m as bad at temperance as I am good at whisky.” No truer words tweeted.

3. While still leaving space for some other opportunities I see on the horizon. I’ve been working more closely with our company’s Chief Privacy Officer who keeps recommending more to help with more of his responsibilities.

4. I could pull off that beard.

5. Honestly, this is the biggest, brightest, nose-runningest symptom that I am overcommitted; and, rather than looking at it as a personal failing, it is healthier to see it as a chance to adjust priorities and responsibilities and get myself some help.

True Happiness by Will Ringland

All true happiness, as all that is truly beautiful, can only result from order.
- Benjamin Franklin, On True Happiness, published in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1735.

You can read the whole letter here.

Well... I may be boned. It goes on to say that maintaining control of your passions to preserve health and well being is of the utmost important.

In short: there is no happiness in constant indulgence.

There is no happiness then but in a virtuous and self-approving conduct. Unless our actions will bear the test of our sober judgments and reflections upon them, they are not the actions and consequently not the happiness of a rational being.

But hedonism is so fun...

The Original GTDer by Will Ringland

The precept of Order requiring that every part of my business should have its allotted time, one page in my little book contain'd the following scheme of employment for the twenty-four hours of a natural day.
- Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, chapter IX

Benjamin Franklin was probably the first productivity guru. Arguably, his books Poor Richard’s Almanac, a book of proverbs and aphorisms to guide behavior, The Way To Wealth, a booklet intended to teach people how to free themselves from debt, and his autobiography (1) which I have reference frequently were the first productivity guides ever written.

Today, people spend millions of dollars a year on productivity and self-help guides intended to make them more efficient, more profitable, more organized human beings. David Allan’s Getting Things Done, which is one of my favorite productivity books, is #38 on Amazon’s self-help book list. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is #1. Similar ones by Dale Carnegie rank #1 in Self-help sub categories too (2).

The reductionist summary of these systems, and most productivity tools, is “do things when they need to get done, not later.” There is a right time and place for each task you have and you should seek to do therm at that time. “Right time” is an elusive concept and one we would do well to consider.

There are two extremes to right time - right now and ever later. When you have no time defined for a task, it gets left to “later” until “task” becomes a crisis. Or, worse, you respond immediately to everything that takes your attention and never get to “task”, again, until it becomes a crisis. Half of a proper ordering scheme is defining when you’re going to do your things so that you don’t become either a drone to your tasks or an email worker.

I think Franklin had it right with his routine, referenced earlier, right at the beginning of his day:

Rise, wash, and address Powerful Goodness; contrive day's business and take the resolution of the day; prosecute the present study; and breakfast.

Planning. Not only planning but setting and keeping to a goal for each day of work. It is impractical to think that you can avoid the constant influx of distraction, Franklin didn’t have to contend with email let alone the other myriad distractions persistent internet connections catalog for us, but taking the time to order our days can do wonders for our productivity.

Covey’s second habit is “Think with the end in mind.” Allan’s planning system suggests starting at the end goal and working backwards when planning your project steps. Though these are more broadly minded than Franklin’s simplistic “contrive say’s business/take resolution”, his is the daily essence of long-term successful goals: work on your goals in a set way, every day.

It’s really about valuing your time and making efforts to control what you’re doing rather than reacting to everything that comes in.

Let each part of business have its time.

1. Mostly in chapter 9 which is entitled “Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection” in bold, capital letters. Frankling didn’t wilt in the face of large goals but waht’s the next action for attaining Moral Perfection?

2. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (affiliate link) is akin to GTD blended with Franklin’s own civic-minded awareness of society in his goal planning. Carnegie has “purer” productivity and leaderhsip books ranked in the top 20s on Amazon’s self-help lists too.