A productivity system for creators (2020)

Just thought some of you in this crowd would like this:


I do like the sound of it myself. A little snippet:

As you can see, David [Allen] here is very careful not to put any hard-and-fast rules on which momentary tasks have preference. This is because, at it’s core, GTD is a system for minimizing anxiety.

The Task Tension system I’m now going to describe has the exact opposite objective: It provides exactly the hard rules for selecting tasks moment-to-moment that is missing in GTD. This is because productivity for creators is precisely about selecting tasks in a smart and methodical way: Creators like us need to select tasks in a manner that leads to regular releases to get the feedback we need and crave (to fully gather external energy) But on the other hand, we also still need to use our obsession to create longer and more thoughtful works, free from the constraints of hard deadlines (to fully harness our internal energy.)


Huh, this is kind of interesting. I might try it with my current org-mode setup.

Have you been using it at all?

Not yet. I’m tempted to try it for sure, maybe adjusted somehow to suit me. In particular I suspect it might help me do more small projects.

Undigested train of thought:

My immediate thought is “when is itt OK to switch between projects?” – I mean still having the exactly-four “project slots” but:

  1. Inevitably I’ll end up wanting to chop and change the projects that go in the slots before finishing the projects, because I want to work on more things than I have time for and I’ll get frustrated with projects.
  2. At the same time, “Slow motion multi-tasking” seems like a good thing
    Tim Harford: A powerful way to unleash your natural creativity | TED Talk

Talking about slow motion multi-tasking means maybe we need two concepts here: hours spent vs calendar time to complete. A long term SMMT project might in principle have only a few tens of hours spent, but stretched out over years. I guess I’d expect SMMT to involve more hours than that, but I’m not really sure what the correlation is in reality.

I think 1. could be a bad thing when it comes to naturally short-term short-hours projects, because it means finishing less projects. On the other hand of course some projects come to nothing and killing them off can be good. Probably I should just try it to see how this part comes out.

But because of 2., for long-term SMMT projects (which maybe aren’t all long-hours?) 1. seems like not such a bad thing.

So one question is: What does “long term” mean, for the purpose of deciding whether it’s OK to change a project without finishing it? But maybe that’s the wrong question, because I feel like some projects naturally do take a lot of “slow motion multi-tasking” of some kind, and I’m not even sure those are necessarily correlated all that much with the four project scales he suggests. I suspect his system may somewhat be in conflict with SMMT because if you allow yourself to chop and change projects a lot, you help SMMT but hinder finishing projects. Not that I expect a magic bullet to resolve that, but it seems to deserve attention.

I didn’t read his post all that carefully so far but I didn’t see him address this issue of switching between projects – what do you think?