The Danger of Creeping Complexity

When you've seen one ridiculously over-decorated late eighteenth century building, you've seen 'em all...

When you’ve seen one ridiculously over-decorated late eighteenth century building, you’ve seen ’em all…

I have a regrettable tendency to over-complicate my productivity systems. Generally, this takes the form of adding new tools, in some cases better tools, to my system by “integrating” them, which means not abandoning superceded systems. Net result — I spend so much time updating my systems that I get nothing actually done unless I completely blow off said system. Sometimes, I dig into detail — so much detail that, as before, I spend a ridiculous amount of time maintaining the system, and get nothing actually productive done unless I abandon the system.

Take the UNESCO World Heritage site to the left, for example. I no longer remember which site, or even in which city it was (I’m reasonably sure it was in Germany, though) — at this point, a week or more into my river cruise of central Europe in 2014, I was so burned out on eighteenth century architecture that I didn’t even bother to take a photo of the interior. When you’ve seen one palace with every available surface decorated, painted, carved, or gilded, you’ve seen ’em all. (By the way, a lot of them were done by the same architect. Popular dude.)

My productivity systems are just about at that level of baroque-osity. Damn.

Right now, I am dying on the hill of my Google calendars. They exist primarily so that a) I don’t try to do everything at once, and b) stuff to do gets automatically fed to Trello. I do not need to tag every single thing in them as done, cancelled or whatever; that record exists in Trello. It possibly also exists in Evernote if the thing to do came in that way. But nonetheless, I mark them, and take a screenshot of my mostly-completed weekly calendar to put into Evernote, as if it were a Franklin Planner page.

But I no longer take notes on my calendar, not really. I type them directly in Evernote, or handwrite them in a Noteshelf notebook which is automatically uploaded to Evernote. In extremity I will scribble on a Post-it which gets photographed and uploaded to — you guessed it — Evernote. There they are all searchable by the date I uploaded them, the calendar item that was going at the time, the location I was in when I made them, any other tags I care to add, and the digitized, scanned, and interpreted content gleaned from the scrawled handwriting within.

I don’t NEED those weekly calendar screenshots, and in fact could dig back through my Google calendars if I needed to see them in a week-calendar format. But in thiry-plus years keeping the stupid things in various formats, I’ve had to dig back farther than last month maybe once or twice a year. I don’t need those screenshots; they are the last remnant of the Franklin Way, and I need to drop them.

Then, too, there are the charts I keep in the Hacker’s Diet Online. I am reluctant to stop updating them because of years of weight history charts (mostly up) and exercise charts (mostly blank.) But Beeminder will keep that data for me, automatically, and even spank me when I have a tantrum about watching what I eat and getting exercise in. I need to drop that rock, too.

There, I’ve said it. Perhaps I’ll even do it.


3 thoughts on “The Danger of Creeping Complexity

  1. Hi Sandra! Thank you so much for the beautiful Beeminder posts lately! We’d cry real tears if you dropped Beeminder. Want to brainstorm about which of those other systems Beeminder could subsume? You could certainly import all your weight data into Beeminder, for example.


  2. You’re welcome! I’m way ahead of you on converting weight to Beeminder! 😉 Already in the cross-over, starting Beeminder with data from a new scale. I *would* like to extract the moving average data points — I’m used to having those numbers available. But other than that, it’s set. Got my exercise Beeminder goals set as well.

    My bobbles with Beeminder have involved being overly ambitious, mostly. I’m trying to avoid that with newer goals…


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