February is my Organization Experiment month.
The experiment is if I can take my organization to another level in February. I’ll explain my detailed goals soon in another post.
I also plan to blog about it daily to share what I’m learning, where I’m coming up short and hopefully all the positive and lasting changes I’m making in my life.
I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Why the Experiment?
I’m currently reading A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters. It is about 148 diaries found in the trash and the author’s journey to find out who wrote the diaries.
Today I read an excerpt from the diary that the diarist wrote at age 21:
May just look back on a life of struggle, at the age of 60 or so – and feel deeply sad, because in spite of various talents, of great beauty, have come to nothing.
How many of us worry late at night when we’re by ourselves that in spite of our talents our life will come to nothing?
I know one month of trying to get better organized probably won’t turn my life around. But what about twelve experiments throughout the year? Won’t something change in a good way? And just maybe I’ll learn something that holds the key to a whole slew of positive changes.
My monthly experiments are a way for me to not only try to get better at something, but share what I learned in the hopes that it might help somebody along the way.
The best way to sum it up is from a line of Carlo Ravelli’s Reality is Not What It Seems. Although the book is about the current state of quantum gravity, in the beginning Ravelli writes that this is not a book about certainties; is a book about the adventure of moving towards the unknown.
I feel the same way about my monthly experiments.
The only certainty is that for 30+ days every month for twelve times this year I will tackle something and learn as much as I can and try as many experiments as I can to see how I come out on the other side.
We are in February as I write this and my first monthly experiment on procrastination has just ended. I didn’t do any blog posts and didn’t write anything along the way that I shared with the public. That is something I want to change this month.
Besides my monthly experiment on organization and all the research, reading, listening and watching that goes along with that, I want to share a daily update on things I’ve learned, things I’ve tried and where I see my experiment going.
I have a basic idea of how things will turn out, but like any experiment I could be wrong and part of the fun is seeing where this journey takes me.
The problem with much of my learning over the years is I keep everything in my head or on my laptop and I don’t play with it to connect ideas or to put it out in the world to see what kind of response I get.
That’s going to end this month.
What I’m trying to do is focus on organization to try to put it together into a more consistent, cohesive whole so that I might get better organized and use the skills I learned to improve my day-to-day actions.
I’m not sick. I feel well and I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. Reaching 44 and starting the new year in 2017 I thought more and more about time and how I could very well be on the backside of my life.
I could have more years behind me than I do in front of me. That is a sobering thought for someone with a great wife and two young sons.
These experiments are my way of getting better at life and making the most of the time I have left.
We Think We Have All the Time We Need
I’m reading How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alan de Botton and it reinforced some thinking I’ve had on how to live my life.
De Botton tells the story of a newspaper in the 1920s that asked French celebrities to answer one big question. The question in this case was what someone should do in their last hour if they knew the world was going to end.
De Botton explained that Proust wrote in and answered the question in a peculiar way. And it was one of sentences that struck me.
Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies, it—our life—hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly.
I love the part about “…made invisible by our laziness which, certain of the future, delays them incessantly.”
We think we have all the time in the world and yet time is the only thing that doesn’t renew and that we can’t count on.
I know I need to make the time I have left matter and I think by focusing on some areas of my life to get better at will do just that.
I watched a TED talk recently where the presenter said that in order to get better at things we need to spend time in two different areas: one is learning and the other is performing.
What happens is we stay in the performance area and just keep doing what we’ve been doing after we reach a certain plateau. His argument is if you do spend some time in the learning area we could all potentially get significantly better.
A great example he used was typing. He said most of us type a certain speed and stay there for the rest of our lives. If we were to spend some time, even just a few minutes every week, say 5 to 10 minutes and practice the areas that we’re not good at, we could potentially increase our typing speed significantly.
But how many people take the time and the effort to practice something that they’re okay at?
These experiments are my way of spending some time in that learning zone and trying to get better. I know I’m OK when it comes to organization. What if I could be great though?
How much time, how much good feelings and how much more could I get done if I spent a month experimenting my way to better organization?
During my Organization Experiment I’m going to find out.