Google Productivity Pad: Your desktop is also not a todo list

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Your desktop is also not a todo list

Often times one of the first problems people have with task management (I know I do) is that they use tools for the wrong purposes. They try and force things to be task managers that were never intended to be. This is especially true of digital spaces but can also happen to physical tools.

The trouble with this is two fold because not only do you try and force the program to be something it is not, a todo list, but you also cripple it for the purpose that it was intended for. I have written in the past about not abusing email or your web browser this way. Today I would like to talk about a third space that is similarly misused: the Desktop.

Does yours look like this ever?

Both Physical and Digital
Remember that the digital desktop is skeuomorphic in its origin, meaning its form and function were set up to resemble the real world. It is essentially suppose to be a virtual representation of an actual desktop, similar to the one your computer is probably sitting on.

The trouble is that when the digital desktop was created the physical desktop was already being abused as a task management system. This abuse was transplanted the the digital version, and both physical and digital continue to be abused to this day.

The thought process behind it goes like this: Oh I have here a [document, or a file, or a picture, or a video, etc] that I need [to do something with] I will just set it here [on my top of my desk, or on my desktop] to remind me to do [that thing]. The result of this process whether physical, digital, or both, is a cluttered unusable desktop which increases stress and lowers productivity.

It is a Workspace
It is important to remember what the purpose of the desktop actually is: it is a space to be doing work, not a space for work that could or should be done. The things there are suppose to be being worked with. If you aren't working with it now or in the immediate future that it should go into you actual task management system and the resource you were going to use to remind yourself should get filed away in a place you will find it when you need it.

Your physical desktop was not meant to hold all the papers in you filing cabinet. Your computer desktop was never intended to show you all of the programs and files on your computer. This false notion was propagate by all the computer programs in the 90's that on install came with a pre-checked box that said "place shortcut on the desktop."

Generally when you are done working with something on either desktop, one of two things are suppose to happen: it gets filed or put away, or it gets thrown away. The real key here though is that the items that should go on your todo list go there to remind you in the proper way to get them done, and that your desktops stay clear for working.

Now I would hate for anyone to think that because I write about this that I either am, or think I am perfect at it. I have been actively working at this for over a year now and I still struggle with it. Productivity is not something most people are natural at; if it were, it wouldn't be productivity it would be normal. As we are trying though it is important to remember to live better.

Thanks for reading, and if you found this helpful please share it with others. And if you have thoughts on the matter please comment below.

No comments:

Post a Comment