Why I'm proud of my 'unproductive' day

Why I’m proud of my ‘unproductive’ day

I’m on holiday from work this week, so it’s an opportunity to spend time with the family and get stuff done around the house.

To be GTD-nerdy about it, it’s time to ditch the “work” context and hit the “home” and “quiet time” contexts.

Or at least that’s how it would work in everything-happens-perfectly-according-to-GTD-land.

What actually happened was this:

Best laid plans

My wife and I agreed that priority number 1 was getting the garden tidied up. I hate gardening. Maybe this is why I neglected to capture the task on any list…well regardless of the reason, I didn’t capture it (sorry, fellow GTD-ers).

5 minutes into starting the gardening, it started to pour down with rain (shame on you, forecast.io) so we quickly abandoned ship.

What should have happened next is that I produced my ‘next actions’ list with a flourish (no, I don’t have a “pissing it down outside” context) and proceeded to select one or more items to work on instead.

that’s not what happened.

The impromptu next action

Instead, I cast my gaze around wildly, trying to land on an errand that would be amenable to both me and Mrs. Cutlery. (this could stem from the fact that she has no list, and all my actions are things I want/need to do…)

“why don’t I clean the garage,” I finally offered.

Now in fairness to me, “turn the garage into an office space” is a project in my GTD list, but I don’t think I really landed on this suggestion based on proper GTD methodology.

Irrespective, I duly spent the afternoon cleaning out the garage, achieving a combination of general housekeeping (chucking stuff out, organising junk piles) and office conversion (installing extension cables, fishing out filing equipment) until I had delivered both improved cleanliness overall, and a shiny new space for me to work in.

Productivity, interrupted

All this happened in an afternoon where Mrs. Cutlery had to pop out for a while, leaving me to look after Little Utensil No. 2 (who in fairness had the good grace to sleep for a chunk of the afternoon) and where I hit a few other random errands (clean kitchen, sort out junk drawer) whenever he decided he’d had enough of whatever cage device I’d placed him in (bouncer, walker etc).

I did also manage to tick off a couple of items ‘officially’ on the list…remove errant screw from inside MBP when you switched the HDD for an SSD – TICK… fiddle with Fever to get it to set new feeds to Kindling by default – TICK…phone the Bank – TICK

Plus I decided to mow the lawn.

A productive ‘unproductive’ day

Why am I sharing any of this? Because it felt good to have a day where it was ok to wander off piste a bit. Where I had the flexibility to improvise, jump around and generally just do stuff I felt like doing. To be productive outside of the system.

I’m not advocating this as an everyday approach – the situation has to be ‘just right’ for this to work (if it hadn’t have rained, the garden would have been the right Next Action and if I’d been at work, this would have ended in chaos).

But in a routine where I’ve become adjusted, comfortable…settled…into a productivity system…bucking it just once every so often reminds me that I can still get stuff done under my own steam.