Hunger and Guides

There’s a lot to be said for turning the tasks in your productivity system into guides. Instead of checking OmniFocus to see if you need to wash the dishes or do the laundry, you’re better served by taking notice of the dishes or clothes that are piling up and then acting on that guide. After considering the role of guides vs. tasks, I’ve found there’s been a great weight lifted off of me in regards to task management. I used to have silly tasks popping up in my OmniFocus Dashboard every day. Things like “wash dishes”, “do laundry”, “brush teeth” and “take out the trash”. I then made them Considered Tasks for a while, with names like “Consider taking out the trash”. This was just as bad. Some things are best left to guides. Go through your task manager and see what mundane tasks can be left to guides. In OmniFocus, you can assign these tasks to a “Retired Habits” context that’s placed “On Hold”. Try living without these tasks for a few weeks and see if you’re functioning just as well without seeing them pop up flagged and screaming for your attention. If the guides are working, delete the tasks. If they aren’t maybe you need to work on building the habit a little more.

The best way I’ve found to improve the effectiveness of guides is to make the guides more visibile. An inbox or laundry basket with a lid is harder to see than an inbox or laundry basket without a lid. Lidded baskets allow us to shove things in, close the lid and not see what’s really there. It’s why we buy cabinets for books, videos and games that we don’t want to see—because we know that deep down we don’t really need all these things. Also, make the baskets smaller. A small laundry basket with no lid on it is going to fill up much faster than a bigger one, and with no lid to keep keep the mountain of dirty clothes at bay, the erupting volcano of laundry will get your attention in a much less nagging way than a due or flagged task in a task manager.

So, let’s bring this idea of guides to health. Our ancestors didn’t worry about eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. They found food when they could and they ate when they wanted. It’s our manmade workday that’s forced us into meals. Meals are like tasks. They are scheduled events that we think we have to get done. We should be thinking about hunger and meals the same way we think about guides and tasks. If we relied on our hunger to be our guide, we’d eat when we are hungry—instead of when we think we should eat. This idea is central to the Primal Blueprint. So while you’re trying to use your guides for handling household chores, try listening to your body about when it’s time to eat.

Published on November 9, 2016


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