Sat Jun 2, 2007

Productivity Pr0n

Individual productivity is the science of organization and management writ small. It is also a key internal component of the Grad Skool Rulz. Thus, for deskbound workers of all sorts, tools and systems to enhance one’s productivity and make one a better person abound. Or from a different point of view, techniques of self-disciplining and governmentality seep ever deeper into everyday life. At any rate, I can confidently say that having a new baby in the house increases my incentive to make and abide by to-do lists. There is lots of Care Of The Small But Noisy Self to be done, and I’m so tired that I keep forgetting what else I need to do besides change nappies and so on.

What’s the hot system these days? I’ve been observing the cult of GTD for a while now without being able to get into it. Lack of usable software was one reason. But having messed around with it for the past ten days or so, I have to say I’m impressed with iGTD. It’s the first GTD appliation that I’ve kept using for any length of time at all. Neat features, free, syncs with iCal and .Mac, Quicksilver integration, etc, etc, and also comes with a tireless developer who keeps adding more goodies. Recommended to other Mac users out here.

But. The caveat is that my semi-successful adoption of this thing may have more to do with my present circumstances than the software per se. As is well known, the Zen of Organization is Not to be Found in Fancy Software. Instead, it lies within. For instance, my wife is vastly more productive than I am, and her task-management system consists of random bits of paper with to-do lists scrawled on them. Her seekrit trick is that she actually, you know, writes stuff down and completes the tasks one by one. Or, to raise an even deeper problem, we have someone like Jeremy Freese, who—if his own repeated testimony is to be believed—has no appreciable organizational skills at all, but who nevertheless manages to score rather highly on objective measures of scholarly productivity. In this respect Jeremy is the Italy of academia: unstable and seemingly chaotic governance structure; mysteriously still the seventh largest economy in the world.