My Standards project is starting to show some signs of usefulness.
This week, I added my various work projects, requiring various frequencies of meaningful work to occur in them lest they start feeling neglected. Meaningful work is an important distinction for me, as there’s all kinds of work and most of it isn’t meaningful. But there’s a certain kind of work that, when done, feels like it was meaningful. It’s the kind of work that makes me feel like I was productive that day.
It generally also means that there’s a certain level of challenge matched with a certain level of skill put into the work. The interesting thing is that almost all kinds of work can be meaningful… it’s about finding that nugget of challenge (for example, to instill a level of attention to detail beyond what is called for) in the work you’re doing. Investing your interest and your eye for how it’s done. The difference between doing something and doing something with love.
Is this working?
This system is striking a chord in my brain. I’m not sure if it would for anyone else’s brain yet. At the very least I need to wait until the novelty wears off before I know if it really works in a novelty-free vacuum. Then, I need to see if the use of it actually leads to more energy, focus, enjoyment, and calm in life. But, after two weeks now I feel like I’ve been able to stay on top of things in a way that I rarely ever feel. Especially when I’ve got so much freedom to do whatever I want and have a million little projects going on.
For me, I think there are three secret ingredients in this system:
- Positive reinforcement only. By having more things than I could possibly do in a single day, I don’t feel pressured to do every single thing that is supposed to be done in a single day. Some things will get neglected… it’s the nature of our busy lives. But, by making neglected things rise in points over time, I feel good about attending to neglected things rather than guilty. And feeling good about it makes me more likely to attend the neglected things.
- Sort activities differently when I feel differently. This is a magical part that I think I will continue to tweak over time. I think that our brains work by always shuffling our priorities around to best suit our current state of mind. Only problem is that our brains can’t hold all of our tasks in our memory at once, and the sorting becomes a little sloppy past the first few items on the list. And when you have too many things to do it adds a new stressed out state of mind on top of it that just doesn’t really help all the time. By trying to imitate the sorting with giving certain tasks a boost when I’m feeling low energy, low focus, or low enjoyment I’m trying to mimic what my mind normally does but be more explicit about it.
- Daily novelty leads to daily review. The system is different every day. I get assigned to a new spirit animal, my tasks are in a different order, and I get different amounts of points for things done previously. It’s complicated enough that becomes entertaining to check in and see what I get for a given day… and yet I also know that it’s trying to be smart about it. The motivation to look daily and see scan all the things I should be doing is a great way to make sure that things don’t slip through the cracks without being aware of them. They may still slip through the cracks and get neglected, but at least you’ll know that they’re there. And if it turns out that something doesn’t need as much attention as the moodoscope thinks it does, I can change the importance right there, or remove it entirely.
Okay, that’s all I have to say about it for this week. Here’s last week’s moodoscope.