Putting Stuff Away.

posted 27 Feb 2005, 11AM | 2 Comments

Ah, the weekend's end. I've got my $2 white wine and a bowl of two-week old three-bean salad. This is living, four-sure.

The tagline I chose for the new incarnation of this site, putting stuff away, is both a kind of mission statement and a cheeky tribute to productivity guru David Allen, who likes to talk about stuff - the ideas, todos, tasks and loose-ends of projects that occupy your mind. You've probably had someone in your office approach you with a copy of Allen's book Getting Things Done and declare it the answer to all of your organizational and self-discipline problems. I found the first half inspiring, but I couldn't find time to read the second half... and then I lost the book.

These days, though, putting stuff away is a fitting mantra for me, since during the last year or so I've been in constant motion, unable to keep track of my own loose ends. Tonight, for example, I finally got around to writing my brother Jeremy a letter. A Christmas Letter. He's in Sri Lanka, and I haven't seen him since June. Seriously, that's not right. That's bad brothering, dude. As such, putting the stuff of this site in its place is part of a larger effort to get my skinny ass in gear.

Ah, carrots. The perfect crunchy snack. More wine? A fine idea.

My friend Josh had some trouble with his laptop recently, and had to order a special powercord from Dell (twice, after UPS lost the first one) before he could use it again. And he wrote me something interesting:

Without my computer to organize and fret over, I turned to my environment. My room, all my clothes, junk drawers, books, knick knacks, cameras, files, even the good ol' box of memorable stuff went under the magnifying glass, all the crap was thrown out, making my life smaller.

It's a pretty common sentiment, this desire to get rid of all our clutter. Josh's quote reminded me of my college days, when nearly every day after class I would return to my dorm room (later my apartment) and spend ten minutes hanging up clothes and tidying my desk. A clensing ritual that isn't quite a part of my daily routine anymore, though I'd certainly benefit from it. And so would, uh, the feng shui of my living space.

Sip. Crunch. Sip.

Most of the projects that have kept me busy during the past year (design for my day job, site maintenance, video editing, sketch writing, dvd assembly) require that I gaze constantly into this LCD monitor like it's the One Ring of Power. The Precious. And when I'm having trouble focusing on what I'm doing (which is most of the time, Mr. David Allen) I end up organizing files and cleaning up my PC, for to give myself the illusion of having actually done something. And I seem to really get off on the process of organizing rather than any potential result, which is sort of twisted when you think about it. We live in a culture of clutter. And oh! the joy of putting stuff away on a Windows machine! A neverending battle against adware and corrupt registy entries. It's as if Joshua and I are Doozers, our computers filled with radish stick structures that Microsoft Fraggles XP continuously breaks apart and munches on. We keep rebuilding our radish-stick desktops, oblivious to a simple life in the natural world around us.

Hmm. Better open another bottle.

Things seemed to get busier during 2004. My shoulder muscles have been tense; there are always loose project-ends running through my head. I started telling myself a new story: that I've somehow kicked things up into high gear, that I'm working twice as hard, and that this represents some new era or other in my life. But during the process of putting away stuff this weekend I came across a bit of writing from the very first weblogish version of this site, an entry from the Spring of 1999 site news page:

5.06.99, 10.44 I am out of college. Oh, happy day, oh happy happy day! There is much work do be done: I have to get breakfast, hang out with friends, email about twenty people, call ten people, get wasted, work on this site, work on my quake levels, finish the omni page, record some songs, scan some photographs, convert some text files to html, find a summer job, find a career, find some money, fix a flat tire, move out west, marry a beautiful woman, settle down on a ranch, milk the goats, put the kids to bed, read the morning paper, drive kids to school and soccer practice, join the E.L.K.S club, golf, buy unfasionable clothing, watch telivised golf, get crotchety, complain, have a stroke, write letters to the companies that make houshold products, get a walker, sleep.

That pretty much maps it all out. I think I've kept myself this busy since the moment college ended, and now I'm just waiting to get crochety. The only difference may be that these days I don't take enough time to let the stuff of my thoughts fall into place. Without that, things seem more hectic than they are. It's time to take that time. I need to walk and talk more.

What? No, the wine's all gone. So. I guess I'm done.

There are 2 Comments


2 Mar 05 at 09:35AM Jenny said:

explain "stuff" will you?


2 Mar 05 at 10:23AM sixfoot6 said:

Good point - I didn't do that. By stuff, Allen means the ideas, todos, tasks and loose-ends of projects that occupy your mind, whether related to work, play, or long term plans. Stuff needs to be put in its place before you can get anything done. And as you probably are aware from my sleep patterns and the mess on my desk, my dear, I've had a lot of stuff on my plate lately.

Part of the plan with this redesign was to really put the webby side of that stuff in its place, by organizing older content and building a framework that would let me manage all my projects - thus the personal portal-eqsue quality of the front page. It's a but much for the frequent visitor - but I have a plan for that.

I've updated the text of this entry to include a brief explanation of stuff at first mention. Thanks, Jenny!

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Sixfoot6.com presents expermients in writing, design, photography, and hypertext. This weblog entry was posted by Ryan, the site's author.

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