Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Coffee Expression

A few months ago Merlin Mann (of 43folders.com fame) talked on MacBreak Weekly (see pixelcorps.tv) about how some people get so involved in their productivity systems that they forget that the purpose is to actually make life more productive.

His analogy was brilliant. He said a productivity system is like a coffee cup. If there are cracks in the cup, then you have to fix the cup, but otherwise spending lots of time redesigning the cup is just overkill. You want to get on to actually enjoying some coffee in your cup.

Likewise, if your productivity system has holes in it, then important tasks fall through the cracks and get lost. However, if the important tasks are making it on your list, then any time spent adjusting the system is wasted. Spend that time doing the things on your list or enjoying recreation.

I was reminded of this last week when a lot of our final IMS weekend spiraled around function and expression. I realized that this was the Laban way of describing the same concept. Being intentional about what elements of your life are functional and which are expressive, allows efficiency and fuller expressivity. It also clarifies that things are not black and white. Many elements of our life have functional and expressive components. But just like the coffee cup, the point is not the analysis itself. The point is to live richly and fully because you spent the time making conscious decisions about how to go forward.

My personal productivity system is usually full of holes. Then I spend a few weeks focusing on it and it gets better for a little while. I hope that slowly but surely it's getting better as a whole, even with 10 steps forward and 9 steps back each time.