My wife often wonders why I own so many hats, and why they are always lying in places not suitable for the proper storage of headgear. She puts them in the closet and they reproduce like tribbles on “Star Trek,” soon reappearing on tables and sofas and kitchen counters. A look at my surroundings reveals that I have a tendency to live in my head, and an observer might conclude I’m more concerned with clouds than clutter. But now, with a second publication (The Bean Magazine) and second daughter (born this January, healthy and beautiful), I needed to send my inner daydreamer on sabbatical.
One of my newest roles is host of a coffee and tea podcast. The project is still in its early stages. For one of my trial-run episodes, I badgered my friends and colleagues for questions, and mvm’s creative director, Stephen Pennimpede, asked, “Would you rather fight a horse-size duck, or 100 duck-size horses?” The more I thought about his question, the more I began to realize that fighting 100 duck-size horses neatly encapsulated my current experience. Bring on the horse-size duck, I thought. I needed to get organized or I was going to be pecked to death.
So I started reading. While I would have preferred sipping scotch and thumbing a worn copy of John Berryman poems, I dove into David Allen’s self-help classic “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.” I read more, learning about Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto died in 1923, but his 80/20 principle has ignited many contemporary fields and philosophies, particularly those that aim to understand the world as it is, not as it ought to be. While the principle, as I understand it, has many applications, it ultimately works as an instrument to prevent the wasting of time.
My turn to efficiency and productivity comes just as it is becoming cool to be coordinated. One of the biggest Netflix stars of the moment is Marie Kondo, a 34-year-old organizing superstar. Her new show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” has become an unexpected (to me, at least) success (judging by the social media comments and memes it has generated).
In summary, the show is about a pleasant woman who travels from the other side of the planet to help people with their spring cleaning and the experience makes them weep profusely. Where once we dreamed of sports cars and sunlit Greek islands, now we long for a clean closet.
With the winds of the zeitgeist filling my sails, I reordered my email inbox. I changed the way I took notes and started recording them in new places: smartphone apps and audio recorders.
I transformed my daily schedule, establishing iron rules about when I would do which tasks. And the results?
Unfortunately, I have run out of space and don’t have room to get to the point of my letter. I’m sure you understand. I need to be better organized. It’s a curse. A wonderful, daydreamy curse. Bring on the hundred horses.
Contact Doug at email@example.com