Aaron Burden

I’m surrounded by paper, because I’m a writer who happens to prefer writing first drafts longhand (and with a pencil, at that!). I’m also a bit of a scribbler.

I’ve become aware lately that I’ve started more projects than I’ve finished. I need to re-establish my habit of completion. I’ve also wanted to pare down my possessions quite a bit, because having something means that you have to take care of it, and time spent taking care of something is time you can’t spend creating something new.

I’ve recently started using Kanboard to keep track of my writing and other long-term projects. I’ve also started scanning first drafts and uploading them there, so that I don’t have paper lying around all over the place. (Which is quickly becoming excessive.) 

So in the spirit of the above items, I came up with a set of guidelines for getting things done and also getting rid of things in a systematic way that will allow me to simplify my life and get more done. 

  1. Use Kanboard to keep track of long-term projects.
  2. Use mini legal pads for daily to-do lists, like “buy toilet paper and go to the post office”. Skip lines between tasks. You can fit 8-10 tasks on a page—enough for a full day. Edit and recopy items as necessary.
  3. Put a date on everything. (“How old is this? When did I write this?”)
  4. Write manuscripts on one side only, because my scanner handles single-sided scanning better than it does double-sided scanning. Notebooks work, but be careful when removing pages. Only use spiral-bound notebooks—composition notebooks cannot be easily scanned and so are best used for terminal projects.
  5. Get rid of old clothing that doesn’t fit or that I don’t wear anymore. (Off to Goodwill.) Be merciless with socks and underwear that are past their prime.
  6. If you haven’t used something in the last twelve months, sell it, give it away, recycle it, take it to GoodWill, or throw it away. Be merciless with excess possessions.
  7. No more cooking gadgets. If a new one does come into the house, get rid of one (preferably two) that hasn’t seen any use in a while.
  8. Don’t be afraid to give up on things. Not all projects are meant to be completed. Some are only trial runs.
  9. Beware of piles of anything anywhere. Work through them as quickly as possible.
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