Maybe get your butt onto a sailboat?

July 25, 2021

One reason I like to get away from home is how it puts things into perspective.

I spent the past week on a sailboat with eight others. To be more precise, we sailed the Aegean Sea on two sailboats with 16 people in total. (Don’t worry—we all tested negative for COVID before departing and we were all either fully or partially vaccinated. 🙂 Also, sailing happens outdoors!)

Being on a sailboat, I don’t want to be on my phone or on my iPad. Nothing on my devices was remotely as interesting as the people, sun, and sea around me. I used my phone a couple of times a day for little things such as taking photos and figuring out where we were, but that was about it.

I barely used my task manager. That’s a big contrast with my “normal” life, in which I use my task manager many times a day. So did I miss it?

Yes and no. Let’s do “no” first. When sailing, I didn’t need my task manager. There were things to do every day, like transferring photos from my GoPro to my iPad or getting a hair cut and a shave in a nearby town. But the trip was slow-paced, so I didn’t need my task manager to remember things.

That said, I did forget a few things that I would have remembered if I had looked at my task manager every day. Basic stuff like my daily meditation or canceling a subscription before getting charged for another month. Nothing terrible, but it would have been nice to remember those to-dos. So, “yes”, I did miss my task manager a bit.

I came away simultaneously enjoying being away from task management for a week and appreciating that I use a task manager at all. Of the 15 other people, I’m pretty sure only one of them uses a task manager—my girlfriend, after I introduced her to Things 3. It happened a few times that one of them told me a story and I found myself thinking, “you’d benefit so much from checking out Things 3 or OmniFocus”. But I was on vacation, so I did not don my productivity teacher hat. 😉

I reflected on the fact that using a task manager at all is worlds better than not using one. I obviously have strong opinions about good vs. bad task management. Come to think of it, they’re not just opinions; I know what tends to work and what doesn’t, having helped thousands of people get organized and be more productive. But we can get stuck on the final 80% of effort that only leads to 20% of the results, if you’ll excuse the cliché.

In other words, my vacation brought my some perspective. It’s fantastic that we want to increase our productivity. But if you take a step back, aren’t you pretty productive already? Is it worth spending more time on optimizing your systems… or should you get your butt onto a sailboat?

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