Solutions At Hand

Handhelds, smartphones, mobile technology and the digital lifestyle.

The KISS rule, and “quick fixes”

Posted by Michael Brown on May 2, 2005

I’m in the process of migrating over my personal project and task management system to something a little simpler. Years ago (well before I started Solutions At Hand), I had found that the built-in Palm applications were a little for lacking for managing tasks and projects. So, I had tried using outliners to give tasks a hierarchy within a project. I used freeware applications, and bought a couple of outliners to manage both personal and business projects.

Outliners brought features that were not possible with the built-in applications, at the cost of added software, time, money, and more complexity. Being a “techie”, complexity doesn’t bother me, since I often work with complex systems. The thing is, a system for managing your life should be able to handle your life no matter how busy you get or how you’re feeling. That’s one point that David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done”, makes; a life management system should work even if you’re sick, miserable, and swamped in stuff. David’s GTD system is rooted in simple principles that become habits, and my courses teach some of David’s principles adapted for Palm Powered products.

Many of David’s GTD techniques relate to the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Silly). GTD (like KISS) is both a methodology and a philosophy. Generally, it boils down to simple things tend to work better when things get rough, whereas complex things are more likely to break down. If they break down, then you end up dropping the ball on parts of your life.

Moving is a big change, and one of the benefits of moving (and change in general) is that it gives you the opportunity to take a fresh look at things, and maybe do some housecleaning. My migration back to the standard apps will accomplish two things for me: the first is to eliminate some historical “baggage” (complexity and redundancy) that I’m no longer willing to carry; and two, simplify my personal system to bring it in line with what I train my clients on. I won’t be losing any “power features” by migrating back to the standard apps, since there are a lot of tools around now that work with the built-ins. I won’t be ditching my favourite outliner, ShadowPlan, completely; I’ll keep it for complex projects instead of my day-to-day activities.

Some quick thoughts on quick fixes. As a society these days we are fixated on immediate gratification. We want to buy things NOW to make us feel better NOW, lose weight FAST to make us feel better NOW, and so on. The problem with quick fixes is that they don’t last. If the foundation of your house is crumbling, you don’t do a quick fix on it; you do what it takes to fix it right so it lasts. So why try to slap a bandaid on your life? Take the time , and do what it takes to fix it right. A handheld or smartphone on it’s own would be a quick fix. A PDA or smartphone, coupled with discipline and good habits, becomes an effective tool for life management. Developing that discipline and those good habits takes hard work and time, but it’s an investment that will pay off over the course of your lifetime.

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