Self pep talk on my email backlog-minding

this feels almost weaselly because the point of my new email backlog system is that i have to stay redqueened unless some specific and rare thing (like a trip or an illness) happens that warrants creating a new backlog-minding goal for the backlog caused by that specific thing…

but coronacaptivity is pretty much the exact opposite of that. it’s the canceling of all trips! (and i’m being beyond careful not to get sick.) so it’s entirely contrary to the whole spirit of the system. for the last few weeks i’ve had more time and less email. i know that many people are struggling to concentrate or need to avoid things like email for the sake of mental health and such. but i have no excuse at all. i just built up an email backlog out of pure akrasia. given that the backlog has accumulated, it works drastically better to isolate it and beemind it separately while redqueening the new stuff coming in. so i’m doing that. but it can all fall apart if i can just let a new backlog accumulate for no reason!

so i guess that’s why i’m telling you all.

kinda related: my email-or-netflix goal never ever lets me watch netflix these days. i’m not sure that’s a bad thing cuz watching netflix before 5pm (5pm is my deadline for all goals now) would feel ridiculous. i could make that deadline later but mostly that would just force me to do email in the evening. maybe that’s ok? oh man, beeminder is hard. (in this case for fundamental reasons, thankfully, not UI/UX/design reasons! maybe what i mean in this case is that adulting is hard.)

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This made me do an affectionate snort-laugh.

Also, I’m not sure I get it: after 5 PM, having started at 3:45 and hit your inbox zero (wow you do a lot of email), watching your hard-earned netflix, you’re still building up email-or-netflix time, right?

If you receive this message in email, I’m sorry.


Doing 1h15m of email and getting to inbox zero would allow him 1h45m of Netflix.

I just want to put in a plug for the GTD approach, like I suggested here, in which you get to inbox zero by going through all emails, and if dealing with the email would take longer than 2 minutes, you put it on a to-do list and move the email to a separate folder. That lets you process your inbox faster.

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Oh, right, just that, being an edge-skater, I’ll tend to not do that in the evening (especially because I can’t watch Netflix unless I’m at inbox zero) and instead wait till my 5pm deadline is looming.

I’m currently thinking though that I may be able to get myself to dispatch personal beemergencies the night before even though they’re not due till 5pm the next day. I do value being able to focus on work during the workday, not having to pause for personal beemergencies.

You’d think I’d have these things figured out by now but it’s still constant experimentation and tweaking and rethinking!

Good point about GTD, @zedmango. I’ve long resisted that because I think of todo lists as places todos go to die. But I’ve lately improved my backlog-minding systems a lot and am feeling much better about it.

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GTD is all about this - basically the whole book talks about why people’s to-do lists don’t work and just become graveyards, and how to fix this. He argues it happens for reasons like:

  • people don’t identify the next specific physical action they need to take and put that on their list, so their list becomes a blob of un-do-ability;
  • people don’t maintain a complete system of everything they need to do and keep that system updated, so they can’t trust their system; and
  • people don’t do regular reviews of their lists and projects, so they don’t keep them updated.

It’s a revolutionary book! You should read it! It’s well worth your time.

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It’s really good to hear that even the King Bee needs constant re-tweaking! Getting Beeminder to work well can definitely take some tinkering and experimenting.


Agreed. Even if you decide not to use the system, the principles it lays out are really useful to have in the back of your head.

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