Organization, economies of scale, and a bit of Autodo 11:46 on Friday
When we do something and bump into a potentially reoccurring problem, we start to think of ways to find a “permanent solution” to the problem. We try to find patterns, then implement a process of how to respond to the problem the next time it arises. We’re getting organized, and that’s about setting up your resources for doing something systematically.
What can be done systematically, benefits from economies of scale. In practice it works like this: one person always has to run the process. Running the process creates overhead on top of other work. So if this one person can run the process so that it benefits many people, there’s less combined overhead for everybody. Therefore, for big business getting organized (creating systems, processes, hierarchies) is often worth the trouble.
Personal organization, on the other hand, is different.
When getting organized personally, there’s only one person benefiting, and only one person to cover the overhead. No economies of scale, and the effort to benefit ratio sucks.
Yet most personal productivity tools, todo lists, GTD systems, etc emphasize creating a “system”. And you have to believe the overhead time spent is worth in the long run, you have to keep maintaining the system OR ELSE.
I’m increasingly starting to believe the best approach would be to do just-in-time organizing. To find ways to organize the things that are wrong when you come across them.
The Autodo idea is built around this notion. You have a todo list on which you can only see a limited number of the most important items. If the items you see are not what you should, could or wanted to do right now, you tell the system why. For example, you want to call the insurance company to reserve an appointment, but it’s 10pm. You can tell Autodo this particular task can only be done during the office hours, between 9-5. Based on that knowledge, the system re-prioritizes the todos and shows a new Top 5 list. The dentist appointment task will reappear on the list the next morning at 9am, when it’s actually possible to complete the task.