No Schedule Vs Pinned Tasks

Naval says (loosely paraphrased), it’s not about the book. It’s about the reader. Meaning one book can mean different to two people. And even to same person depending on when he/she reads it. I first read Marc Andreessen’s productivity guide at least two years ago (don’t remember the exact date but it wasn’t the last year or the one before). And the only thing I seem to remember from it was the idea of having just three lists.

  1. To do list
  2. To watch list
  3. And to latter list

First for things you need to do. Second for things you need to oversee. And third, for things you would do in a distant future.

Marc’s blog post surfaced again in my Twitter feed thanks to the tweet below.

Naval’s take out caught my eye i.e. to whatever extent possible don’t keep a schedule. I don’t seem to recall Marc Andreessen writing that. Though it’s something I am trying to have in my life now a day. So I read the post again. I was unable to finish it though because the first two points drove me into confusion. How can you advocate not keeping a schedule while in the next paragraph promote writing down tasks for the next day on a flash card the night before?

Marc’s no longer on twitter. Even if he was, my odds of getting a reply from him were low. So I decided to stop reading and practice the thing I wasn’t doing i.e. writing down a list of tasks that I would be doing the next day. After seven days I am much less confused, to say the least. Not that I ever doubted anything Marc says but seeing it in action is something different.

The difference between not keeping a schedule and having a list is obvious in hindsight. A schedule keeps you time bound. As an example “I will meditate at 7am in the morning” is a schedule. I will meditate first thing in the morning is part of a list. The first gives you the anxiety of not being able to wake up on time. The latter keeps you in check with little to no pressure as you go to sleep. Of course, making a list is not the point. Getting things done is. Hence it’s important to take the point in entirety.

Write down 3-5 tasks that you will do the next day. And then do them.

The other more subtle and yet insanely useful trick behind writing what you need to do the night before is it takes care of your priorities. While it’s ok to let your mind wander, the problem, of course, is getting lost too much into something new. New ideas are exciting. Working on them, however, not so much. Former is a function of heart, latter a function of the mind. Telling your heart what to get excited about does not work. Telling your mind where to focus always works.

The list takes care of the latter so you can have time for the former.