Reasonable Expectations

Maybe it’s just me, but …

Since I know a lot of us are post-60 or post-70 or 80 this is an idea for the organization of reasonable expectations for the geriatric crowd, of which I am one.

Every once in awhile someone pops up somewhere wondering how everyone else is managing to keep on track with their research, write a blog, write books, hang out on social networks, answer their email, learn new hardware and software, read other blogs and comment on them while also having regular time with their family and trips around the country for conferences and so on.

Well, no-one’s doing it all and if they talk like they are, they’re lying. We all have the same 24 hours a day. And granted, I’m moving slower than I was 40 years ago but not that much slower. I still remember being 20-something like it was yesterday.

Unnatural Expectations

What we tend to forget is that computer technology is totally unnatural. The constant assault on our senses of text, video, music and photos is unnatural. Staring at text hours a day is unnatural. Sitting for hours a day is unnatural. Collecting and organizing massive amounts of information is unnatural. Listening to (reading) what hundreds of other people think every day is unnatural.

But we’re supposed to just get on board.


I start my computer day by checking email for anything important and cruising through G+ to see what’s happening. In a small sense. My god, that’s a noisy place. And I look at my calendar in case I’ve forgotten what it says since yesterday. Which I haven’t, of course, but it’s a nervous habit.

I’m old-fashioned and I still believe in the principle of keeping my promises. So, if I commit to something, I put it on my calendar and there’s a 100% chance of it getting done. Of course, one can overwhelm a calendar which I try to avoid.

So, the rest of it?

In pursuit of reasonable expectations, I’ve found myself once again looking at ways to re-arrange my to-do list to keep me sane.

My list in ActionOutline, as previously defined, was 136 pages the last time I printed it out as an RTF. That’s daunting no matter which way I print it or count it. It does not include the 45GB of files in my 0.Inbox or the 50,000 to-do’s in Legacy, (which Cuz is chipping away at because she lives in a place with sunlight and, therefore, energy) or the contents of my email Inbox.

It’s gotten to be such a blur nothing seems any more important than anything else these days.

One of my reactions to being overwhelmed is to give up altogether. Hit the Delete button and go to sleep.

I went for the latter. And while I was resting I defined the obvious problem:

  • to-do list is too long
  • energy is too low
  • time is too short

So, what to do other than outright give up?

Sometimes we just can’t resist the notion that there might be better software for the job. Most of the time that’s not true but hope springs eternal. The hope that someone has designed something that works the same way I think except better with motivation and a younger body built in. So I looked at a few things, including Simpleology and Nozbe, both of which I dislike but may work for the mobile-gadgeteers amongst us.

And I considered putting everything on my calendar before coming to rest back where I started.

I put a 0.Inbox under each of my 12 tabs in ActionOutline; the tabs representing the main divisions of my computer files:

  • IBIZ
  • JGEN
  • JLOG

Either you got on board with something like this a long time ago or you’re tired of hearing about it. I’ve been talking about these categories for the past 2 or 3 years but it’s one thing I’ve never wanted to change. They work really well. For me. Your categories and mileage will vary.

Then I took my giant to-do list and divided it up into the 12 Inboxes. This sort of thing:

Inbox, ActionOutline

Everything in the Inboxes is red to distinguish it from everything else under the same tabs that are Reference items.

Being Reasonable

Here’s the plan based on reasonable expectations taking into consideration that it’s January (no sun) and no matter what time of year it is my spine does not like sitting for hours on end.

Every day I pick one tab with its one Inbox. Some have hundreds of items but that’s OK. I set a timer for a minimum of 30 minutes (just to get the lead out) and pick something to work on; whatever jumps out as the most important or interesting thing for that day. Maybe I work for 30 minutes and need another nap or maybe I get fired up and carry on for hours.

It doesn’t mean I can’t work on other things but I commit to one of the 12 tabs and one Inbox per day. If I feel like it at all. Which means, if you’re following this, I only get around to ANCESTORS every 12 days at most. Impossible you say? That’s only one month out of the whole year! BUT, focus is way better than being scattered and I’m amazed how much more I enjoy what I’m doing when I’m not thinking about a gazillion other things at the same time.

Maybe your categories are nothing but different genealogy projects so you get the whole year?

If I have to go into town maybe I get nothing done that day but that’s also OK. I’ll get onto the next tab and the next Inbox tomorrow.

Technology will go racing on. Unless it pays your rent, you’re not obliged to keep up. IMO. Or maybe it’s all too far gone now and we are obliged but I intend to keep up slower.

2 thoughts on “Reasonable Expectations

  1. Nancy

    It’s not just you…. There are lots of us feeling challenged by the same things. I like your ideas. Thanks for sharing.

    1. JL Beeken Post author

      Thank-you for reassuring me. No matter how many times and ways I can rearrange my list, there’s still only so many hours in a day. Damn!


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