Tidy Time


September 14, 2020

I love having a clean desk and empty inbox. But I hate spending the time cleaning my desk and processing emails. It feels like wasted time where I could do something better. However having “tidy time” to maintain things is important.

A while ago I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. When I tried to implement it I got stuck on the notion of a weekly review. Setting aside some time every week to see how you’re progressing on tasks and to process any new tasks. I never got into the ritual.

I always felt uncomfortable doing this at work. Spending time thinking about what needs to be done when I should be working.

I found it hard to carve out time for this at home. I would frequently go away and so couldn’t consistently assign the time. Even when I had the time it seemed like it would be more fun to do something else.

However I’ve suffered for this. The majority of urgent things still get done. However the important but non-urgent things keep getting pushed back unless I happen to focus on one of them for a couple of weeks. There’s also always a nagging feeling of that thing that ought to be done.

This is why I think it’s important to set aside a couple of hours of work time and personal time each week to “tidy time”. It’s the unfortunate cost of fighting off entropy; to stave off the heat death of your environment you have to put in some work to keep it tidy. A little bit of regular work can keep this maintained and it’s an important part of your time budget.