rapid serializiation

I don’t believe in multi-tasking. I feel like the more things we try to do at the same time, the worse of a job we do on all of them. Besides, we really only ever actually do one thing at a time, the other things simply distract us from giving our full attention and intention to the main task at hand.

Thomas Juggling

So, how do we juggle everything we need to do and manage all the ideas for new tasks that are in our face at any given moment? Good question. If you know the answer, please tell me. Meanwhile, I’m trying to practice rapid serialization. I still do too many things in a short amount of time, but I’m try to at least change my mindset: “I’m not doing all of this at once. I’m only doing one of these at once. Those other things are waiting right there for me to do next.” The hard part is trust those other things are going to be right there, and that I wont lose them simply because I don’t have them loaded up into my memory.
Project management tools are way too heavy for this part. A full-on GTD system is too distracting for this part. (Though I use both.) I just need a simple list that is always there that makes it easy for me to track everything going on right now, and lets me set down the new ideas that come to mind. And, most importantly, anything still on the list at the end of a productive burst is processed out into my real GTD system.

If I spent most of my time with a pen or pencil in my hand, my solution would be a 3×5 notecard on the desk beside me. Since I spend most of my time with a keyboard in my hand (and rarely even sit at a desk) I need the equivalent on my computer. No heavy apps, tagging, categories, attachments or blah blah blah, just a place to scratch down the stuff I’m trying to get done right now, or need to remember later because I’m getting things done right now.

For those of you who are more interested in the tech than the theory, here’s the punch-line: I’m using google tasks as fluid app.

When I sit down to get into the flow, I do a brain dump of the stuff I need to do right now. When I recognize I’m trying to do two things at once I either dump one to the list, or remind myself they both are already on there and refocus on what I was already doing. Unless it TRULY is an emergency, there is no reason to switch contexts. They are both going to get done, so I’m exercising my “focus intently on what I’m doing” muscle.

I truly believe we need to assign more value to our attention and intention. Rapid serialization is one experiment to practice this belief.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Potts Weinstein

  • kim

    mindfulness practice helps with intention. 🙂

    • Hey kimmers…. any chance you'd be willing to say more about that?

  • kim knoll

    Jon Kabot-Zinn says mindfulness is “the practice of focusing on the reality of the present moment, accepting and opening to it, without becoming engaged in elaborative thoughts or emotional reactions to situations” (Carson, Carson, Gil, Baucom, 2007). Mindfulness differs from attention and awareness. We are usually attentive and aware in our daily functioning, but mindfulness takes this a step further into present reality and an enhancement of attention (Brown et al., 2003).
    Mindfulness is a part of contemplation that allows people to draw upon something other than everyday inattentive living. When a person experiences mindfulness, they are able to reflect on the activity, feeling, or thought that is happening at that present moment. Mindfulness takes that moment and looks at it loosely as if it was an experience a person observes while holding it in their hand. Mindfulness involves “paying attention, on purpose, to one’s own mental and physiological processes during everyday tasks to act with clarity and insight and…leads the mind back from theories, attitudes and abstractions to the experience itself” (Epstein, 2007). Nyanaponika Thera called mindfulness “the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us at the successive moments of perception” (Brown & Ryan 2003).

    Except from my Thesis

  • rachaeljoy

    Thomas & Kimmers, I adore you both! Thanks for bringing mindfulness out of the meditation room and into the office/street where it truly needs to be. I find myself consciously working that “focus intently on what I'm doing” muscle too. It really helps and makes my brain feel less fuzzy too.

    • Don't we make a great team?! =)

      So, what you you discovered that helps you flex the intention muscule?

  • sue_anne

    Two thoughts:
    a) I find that if I don't engage the creative side of my brain with music, or something else, while working then I'm unable to focus on other work in front of me.
    b) I've also realized that I need to cut down more on distractions – like incoming email – because I let that sidetrack me away from whatever task I'm working on at the time. I haven't figured out how to do this well yet.

    • (a) Totally!!
      (b) I know what you mean… I may need to write another post sometime about how I manage my email. It is much less of a distraction now than it ever was. Don't get me wrong, it still takes up a lot of my attention, but at least it is no longer a distraction.

  • I go for the moleskine, every time. I have expanded tasks on their own pages, and a few post-its on the back inside cover. The post-its are for must-do, and the rest I treat as a reference book.

    Thus, I get a bit nervous without my notebook handy. 🙂

    • I always keep a Moleskine Cahier in my back pocket for notes on the go. But, much like my gNotes hack, I don't use it for long-term storage. I process them into my GTD system when I get back to my computer.

      I lost a notebook once, an I don't trust paper as a long-term solution anymore. =(

  • jdavid_net

    wasn't this the original purpose of twitter?

  • jdavid_net

    maybe we could learn from twitter, and google docs, and google wave and somehow do something in between, more for tasks and less for status updates.

  • Anonymous

    wasn’t this the original purpose of twitter?

  • Anonymous

    maybe we could learn from twitter, and google docs, and google wave and somehow do something in between, more for tasks and less for status updates.

  • I don't 'quite' follow… I've never used twitter to keep track of all the things on my mind that I need to be working on. I mean, I realize their original prompt was, 'what are you doing'. But, I didn't give it my full minutiae.

  • Honestly, for me, gTask as an ssb has filled this purpose.

  • Honestly, for me, gTask as an ssb has filled this purpose.

  • I don’t ‘quite’ follow… I’ve never used twitter to keep track of all the things on my mind that I need to be working on. I mean, I realize their original prompt was, ‘what are you doing’. But, I didn’t give it my full minutiae.