this week in Sunday Life I trust my search function
“It’s like we’re programmed to make life hard for ourselves.” The woman in front at the supermarket on Tuesday was apologizing for the complex plans she’d just made with her three boys to call when they got to the skate shop or text if they needed more time, but not at 4.45 when she was expecting a conference call, and not on her Blackberry number because it was flat. I was privy to the lot.
“Whatever happened to ‘meet me outside the Post Office at five or I’m going without you’,” she said offloading her diet frozen meals and family-size bottles of multi-vitamins (no judgment!).
“I know,” I laughed. “I know.”
Overcomplicating life is what we do. And brilliantly so. Look what we’ve done to the simple act of eating – we follow more rules than ever. And yet we’re only getting pudgier. Me, I overcomplicate my weekends, my hand washing, my afternoon cup of tea. I’ll swirl a simple plan to meet a friend for a walk into a maelstrom of extra considerations and tasks.
I was chatting about this recently with a journalist. She pointed to our chaotic way of life and asked for my antidote. I was blunt. “Back the f*ck off,” I told her. Which was not a threat, but my uncomplicated answer. (Prefer a more palatable version? Do less. Get your grubby hands off it. Step back…)
This week I applied my BTFO thinking to an issue I reckon causes an overcomplicated amount of angst among us all: inbox organising. There’s only one thing more stressful than being bludgeoned with emails and that’s not having a system for filing and saving said emails. The fear we’ll need a record of a correspondence in the future sees our inboxes bulge and our heart rates rise.
Which is a fair fear. We are in fact expected to retrieve the commission rate agreed to in June 2009 and our Foxtel installation code from two apartments ago – and preferably in 30 seconds or less. Was it always like this? Can anyone remember how we disputed the price increase on the carpet cleaner’s invoice before the internet? Did it take weeks? Did we have immaculate filing? Did this kind of data retrieval fill us with dread?
I think it did. Which is why we’re now so paranoid about inbox organizing now. Folders is where the angst bottlenecks. David Allen has become one of the world’s best known productivity gurus off the back of his site Getting Things Done and his New York Times bestseller of the same name, both premised on attending to our fear of folder chaos. Ditto, the very popular business blog 43 Folders.
But working to my BTFO mantra, I’m here to proffer an easier way: don’t file, don’t save. Because technology is here to (finally) save us.