A Relative Process

In the past week, I’ve been reflecting about this book thing. The whole process—from deciding to do it to posting that it was live on Amazon—was quick. I had to make decisions with no right or wrong answer and it made me think fast, both of which get a bit easier with a mindfulness practice.

I realized about half way through that not a single task for the project had been put into OmniFocus. Over the course of the whole thing I only put about ten lines in a scratch note. My entire focus was spent thinking and doing and very little spent organizing tasks, sub-projects, and contexts. Now, this was an extraordinary circumstance. I was able to dedicate two full uninterrupted 12 hour days to getting the essays I had already selected into the right format, make it look good, write a bit more, and put it live online. That’s very different than the constant interruptions I generally have to deal with on a work day. As my environment and the work I had in front of me changed so did my workflow and process.

Healthy process is awesome but process is relative to the work you have to do. For me it would have been inefficient to track a whole bunch of things in a mind map or convert this OPML dingus to that Markdown thingy. There was a clear, linear path in my head and my focus gave me confidence that I wouldn’t lose it. (Again, this is an exception. Most work I do gets tracked.)

To work effectively, we need to have enough insight into our process to know when parts of it aren’t necessary. We should make our systems and our thinking modular so we don’t get distracted by a workflow that’s meant to solve a problem that we aren’t currently having. The pieces of our workflow are just tools and by learning how to use them only when the work demands it we focus our attention on the output of the process and not the process itself.