by Leo Babauta
The blog ‘a million monkeys typing’ (apparently defunct) has an interesting older post called Beginner’s_Mind in which the author makes a list of all the information he needs to track.
Douglas takes a “beginner’s mind” approach and makes a list of every type of information he needs to keep track of, including but not limited to:
That’s not the entire list, but he was able to whittle it down to about a dozen things to track. And I think that’s less than most people, because he got it down to the essentials (for him). Realize, of course, that everyone’s needs are different, and what’s essential for one person isn’t essential for another.
Still, it’s a useful exercise. Make a list of everything you need to track, and then figure out the simplest, most intuitive way to track them. Using the simplest tools.
As an exercise, here’s my list:
It’s possible I’m missing a couple things. And this isn’t the most minimal list possible. But let me tell you how I’ve gotten it down this far, and then we’ll look at how I could get it to be even more minimal.
How I Whittled It Down
A couple of years ago, my list would have been much longer. For example, at one time I tracked all my spending, all my debt, every bill and when it was due. I don’t anymore. At one point I tracked all my eating, every calorie, and every calorie I burned through exercise. I also had a much more complicated productivity system (based on GTD), where I tracked not only tasks (“next actions”) but projects and someday/maybe items and delegated tasks and so on.
At one point I had a list of goals and sub-goals and action items for each one. And more, but I won’t bore you with all the details.
Slowly, I’ve whittled down my needs:
I’ll write about many of these things in later posts, as they deserve some focus of their own. The point is, this is possible, and you can rethink your needs as well, and change them over time.
It’s also important to note that most of these changes haven’t come because of my lifestyle, but my attitude: I worry less about goals, tracking calories, finances, and the like, and because I worry less, I track everything less.
How I Can Pare It Down Further
But I’m not as minimal as possible. Here’s what I can do, and will probably do, in the coming months, in order to reduce my need to track information:
Of course, none of these solutions will work for everyone. I list them here to show how it’s possible to change your attitude and your needs so keeping track of info becomes pretty minimal.