Back in the time (way, way back), your average prehistoric Joe had only a few things on their to-do list:
- Don’t get eaten.
- Find food.
- Find mate.
- Bring mate food.
The eons rolled by, lions were replaced by governments, hyenas by lawyers, and smelly animal skins by grey flannel suits and ties. Your average Twentieth Century Joe’s to do list looked like this:
- Don’t get fired.
- Get promoted.
- Find mate.
- Bring mate food, shelter in the suburbs and keep up with the Jones’.
… And a few more items. Longer list, but still manageable.
Welcome to the Twenty First Century.
Grab a cart, let’s go shopping! Ten choices have been replaced by a ten thousand, 3 channels with 500 and plan on spending next week assembling your furniture, reconfiguring your phone service online, and possibly performing brain surgery on yourself. Welcome to the To Do List World, where you have a list a mile long, as does your mate, your overscheduled offspring and probably your pets.
In the To Do List World, a previously weak force in the cosmos suddenly has the power of a black hole over your life: the gemmelsmerch attraction. This force, related to interaction of tachyons and muons, is the power of other items on your near infinite To Do list to whine, plead, beg and grovel for attention, thus ensuring you never get anything done and off your list.
Gemmelsmerch was discovered and named not by an Astrophysicist or a patent office clerk, but by a psychiatrist treating attention deficit disorders, Edward Hallowell.
You must beware gemmelsmerch at all times! It may be in the form of the millionth update to WinXP that begs to be installed Right Now, the beeping of your voicemail signal on your phone or that damn IKEA furniture to put together. Resist. Do not give in.
Here’s a few ways to fight the dark force:
- Make to do lists you can do. Regardless of how many things in total are on your list, at any given time, make on paper, in an application or on a whiteboard a Current List. This is a SHORT list of tasks that for whatever reason are at the front of the line. Now here’s the trick: refuse to think about any other task until everything on your Current List is done, dead or delegated. No exceptions allowed.
- Don’t make it a mental Current List. A mental list is worth the paper it’s written on. All you are doing is strengthening the gemmelsmerch when you make mental lists. Listen to David Allen on this.
- Hiding under the bed is not an option. Our prehistoric ancestors found that cowering in fear in the back of the cave more often than not kept them from being eaten, but caves are few and far between now. Face up to gemmelsmerch and confront it.
- 80/20 your lists. About 80 percent of what you want will come from just 20 percent of what you do, so do those items first, be they on your Current List, or to do list or wherever they are. I know it seems against common sense; but it’s true.
Follow these pointers, stay aware of gemmelsmerch and treat it with the same respect you give gravity, and you’ll find yourself happier.