Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Favorite Thing Ever (Today)

Most of the time, my iPhone apps are like my (imaginary) children - I love them all equally for their own unique and beautiful features - or at least I tell them that while secretly thinking that Grocery iQ is just a little smarter than HopStop, who is way cuter than CheapGas!+.

However, as my time has become mildly more unpredictable over the last few weeks, only one of these little beasts has come to my rescue. Though I've managed to reach my perilously advanced age without having a full-on nervous breakdown, I have always been a chronically disorganized, wildly procrastinatorial (yeah, whatever, spell-check), list-making addict.

About two years ago, I briefly fell in love with a book called Getting Things Done, mainly because of its central method for creating super-awesome to-do lists. It was like the heavens had opened up and Jesus himself stepped out and handed me this book and said, "I know you've been looking for that special way to make everyone think you're even more insane and OCD than you actually are. Here. Your prayers are answered." For the next couple of weeks, I kept my giant, ballooning to-do lists on paper.

Then I got sick of that, because it was kind of embarassing to finish something at work, pull out a fat notebook, and cross something out as my cubicle-neighbor nosily peered over and asked, "What's THAT you're doing?" Who wants to admit they keep a maniacal Unabomer-esque journal to catalogue their daily tasks? So I figured out a better, more suitably secretive way.

That's right. I created a maniacal series of online Unabomer-esque Excel spreadsheet journals each week. I even added features enabling me to track my tasks and how long they had been left un-done. Then I ran reports from the data in them.

I'm not sure what that accomplished other than making me feel incredibly guilty about the fact that I typically only finished 47% of my assigned tasks in an average week. However, it did enable me to very privately track and update my to-do lists, as long as I had my computer and internet access.

The problem came when either I was in a meeting without my computer (PANIC ... I JUST FINISHED THAT TASK AND I CAN'T CHECK IT OFF WHAT IF I FORGET AND IT STAYS ON THERE FOREVER OR I FORGET I DID IT AND I DO IT AGAIN ARGDFHHHHDKFJDKFJ) or when I wasn't able to access the Internet. Also, the spreadsheet, like most solutions I come up with, was a voracious time-devouring monster to manage, partly because I even used it to identify probable time each task would take, make calendar appointments, and then over-engineer my entire life, including the number of hours I could sleep each day. The fact that I kept this up for eight full months is a testament to my insanity.

Then one day, as I was blearily calculating that I somehow had to finish 165.5 hours of activities the week of January 10, not inluding sleep or bathroom breaks, Jesus spoke to me again - this time through the iPhone. I think he said something like, "You're a psychotic control freak. Download the Home & Work app immediately and drop this idiocy before you start compulsively checking the stove, pulling out your hair, and reciting prime numbers." And the rest, my friends, has been beautiful, simplified, magical to-do list history.

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