Algorithms for Work

February 23rd, 2016


I’ve spent too much time over the years noodling about lifehacks, organizational systems, and so on. The more I work, and the more deeply I experience life, the more I believe that:

  • Yes, there are various little techniques and bits of footwork that help us organize ourselves, BUT . . .
  • For the most part, it comes down to a fairly short list of master algorithms that are sometimes hard to do, but not actually that difficult to understand.

I’m going to build this post slowly as I encounter algorithms that I think deserve to be on that short list. Your feedback will be eagerly received.

The Algorithms

Keep your decks clear. You can relate this to David Allen’s “open loops,” any number of decluttering systems, or simply the old wisdom to clean up after yourself. The core concept is to keep your mind clear to do good work.

Find the balance between tight and loose. My friend Geena frames this as “focus on your path but vigilantly scan the horizon for incoming.” I would generalize it to include a balance between (a) rigorous discipline and principles and (b) creative openness and fluidity. You must have both to succeed.

Keep moving. The essence of life is to move and change and grow. When you find yourself stuck, do what it takes to get un-stuck. This applies also to your body: you don’t need to be a pro athlete, but you DO need to move within your own physical capabilities.

Connect. So much of the value of life exists in relationships. Don’t worry about “networking” or the specific rules of relationships; just connect with the people who are important to you.

. . .

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