[Design] Chandler as a Managed Workspace

Phillip J. Eby pje at telecommunity.com
Mon Jan 7 12:40:21 PST 2008

At 06:22 AM 1/5/2008 -0800, Mimi Yin wrote:
>All of this currently is being done with text files and lots of
>email. What Chandler offers is a 'source of truth' a single place
>where everyone can work together. It's where I was going with the
>idea that Chandler isn't so much a task manager (where tasks are
>abstractions of the work you need to do) as a work manager, or
>'managed work space' really.
>The reason why we can offer this is because we're more than just a
>simple list / outliner and because we have sharing and email. If
>there's just a list, all you can do is list out the work you need to
>do because there isn't really room to spread out and do your work.
>If there's an integrated calendar and email and sharing and a lot of
>real estate allotted to the details of each of the items in the list,
>you start to have a multi-dimensional work space.

Note that this approach puts us in competition with intranet 
software, CMSes, virtual meeting software, Lotus Notes, and that 
thing that was made by that guy before he went to Microsoft...  Ray 
Ozzie?    What was that thing he had that was a sharing 
platform?  Groove, or something like that?  Is it still around?

One of the very first problems we'll hit in that space is that our 
conflict resolution isn't fine-grained enough to support this kind of 
collaboration unless it's synchronous or there's just one person 
managing a given project.  (And the second problem we'll hit is that 
most people's real tasks involve richer documents than a large 
plain-text field.)

>But, do these things need to happen in order? Should you only work on
>these one at a time? Instead of creating 5 tasks and tracking them
>all, why not just have a single event item that represents the
>meeting and simply DO (on that meeting item) what needs to be done to
>set up this meeting?

FYI, David Allen's answer to this question is that if you only have 
"the meeting" on your to-do list, then every time you look at your 
list you will have to figure out again whether it's something you can 
work on right now, whether you have time, whether you even know what 
needs doing, etc.  Sure, you can click on it and look at the notes, 
but then you have to *think* about it again.  In contrast, having a 
list with only actionable items allows you to focus on acting instead 
of thinking.

This makes a huge difference in productivity, because thinking about 
stuff is NOT conducive to actually *doing* stuff.  There is mental 
overhead in switching from thinking to doing and vice versa, and it 
often exceeds the time needed to actually *do* the things.

So the goal of separating definition and doing is that seeing and 
doing only defined things allows you to get into a "flow" state.

That's the "pony" in GTD: that when you have clarity, you can have 
flow.  This clarity does *not* come merely from having a "source of 
truth"; it also requires that random "stuff" be turned into specific 
actions (which can be done immediately if they are sufficiently 
brief), and that *only* defined things are in your "now".

The fact that most people don't do this is not a "problem" to be 
fixed -- just an opportunity to have a new and more pleasant 
experience of one's work.  :)

(And thus, I might add, is a selling point for any GTD-oriented app 
that can "tell and sell" the idea, showing how the tool actively 
supports that goal.)

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