Every week @Violeta asks us our weekly challenge. This is on her group on Facebook. A bit despised by my recent attempts in blogging, I wrote
“Cleaning the house”
And it is true, it was really an utmost urgency. I placed all my energy and efforts in my work during the last months. 7 days a week, I was spending an average of 12 hours a day on my work. This was leaving me with 4 hours a day which covers a bit of yoga, a walk when it’s sunny, some thinking, taking care of myself, minimal house duties.
There is almost no pollution here, white tables outside stay white for months. The house is large, old (over a hundred years, wood, mud and stones, very little concrete, no bricks) and I kept the door wide open for most of the season from April to late November. Since it gives directly on the fields, it’s really a part of nature.
Pollens in spring, dead leaves in Autumn, fill the air with a very light dust. Cats and occasionally birds, a frog and a mice are visiting me. They leave politely, but flies and ants stay. They set up themselves in dark corners and wait for the next spring. Old wood and mud are also prone to release dust.
Aside from programming and writing, I’m also gardening. Afterward, I do preserves. I froze cooked meals, I dry aromatic leaves or infusions for hot drinks. All this leaves tons of dust.
November was a month long of updates of my tools, computers, servers. Now I started to update the hardware. Thursday I changed the fan of my main laptop. The old one was noisy like a first war aircraft. Thursday evening the house was silent again. I was very stressed by this operation which implies to dismount the computer down to the motherboard. I procrastinated for over 3 weeks with the new spare part sitting behind me.
Soothed by this serenity, I felt the time was come to undertake a big, big cleanup. Computers insides are often the dirtiest place in a house. Let’s welcome this new fan with a clean place.
Cleaning once, or part by part if not an option. This is because the dust is very light and goes in the air at once. So I underwent my usual tactic, not so smart I admit: stop working and dedicate time to this until it’s all done, completely done: Floors, cupboards, plates, walls, ceilings, beds, carpets. It took 3 days.
I’m taking my keyboard because I reached this stage. This house is now perfectly clean from one end to the other. I’m happy.
Now the big benefit of this cleanup is really in my head. Staying almost away from my desk for 96 hours gave me a much-needed break without the guilt of not doing something urgent and important. I’m pretty good and conscientious at cleaning. I have a mild tendency for perfectionism. I was absorbed by the task.
But in my mind, I still had this background tormenting me:
What should I do better to have this Kneaver thing take off?
Obviously, despite my efforts, people are not using it. My network is not really interested by what I do. Wy writings are not convincing. Even worst: I don’t use all the features myself. This is really concerning me. Some other people are starting products with similar ideas, should I be concerned?
Should I give up and reposition to something else?
What else am I good at? I’m good at cleaning 🙂 I could get at job at it. This brought me back to Violeta’s paper with a smile. No, I was not considering this option, although wisdom told me I should: I have two friends who started a successful cleaning service companies. Two different friends, at 10 years of distance. No, like Violeta, I don’t want to take a dumb job, not even in software.
Note to self: I should really update the website with my self-derision idea. Would be better than just leaving it empty.
I did a small tour on Quora to see what people were sharing on the topic: Not much. Found yet another tentative, a new note app. Strange how the first idea is to go for notes and stop there. Having a way to write down stuff is a necessity but not the badly needed feature.
Having links like in Kneaver, potential to arrange stuff in more and more structured way are benefits. This possibility to start adding isolated knowledge and progressively connect ideas into networks is bright. Being able to use both text and mindmaps is cool but we block on motivation. Why doing the work harder when it’s already very hard to sustain it with internal motivation.
Maintaining knowledge is a long-term commitment. People want tools because they want a magic cookie cutter, not notes taking. On the road to find such a tool, they collect and register for more services. At the end, they have even more services, more of incoming information flows but still difficulties to make value out of it, stay on top and not feel overwhelmed. They express it as lack of time, lack of reflective moments and a desire for tools to manage time, flows, services.
So I went back to asking myself some hard questions about Kneaver.
Why do I believe there is value there?
And more importantly:
Why do so many people want to engage in growing their knowledge?
Why do they encounter mitigated success?
How to make using such a tool into a habit?
How to make it rewarding and encouraging?
I think we should focus more on the processes involved and less on the objects (the notes, links, bookmarks etc). Kneaver should be presented more a way to manage those processes (reading, relating, learning, engaging) than a tool to deal with the object of the processes (posts, links, lessons, people). Processes are temporal, installed in the time. Time is really the scarce resource for individuals. That’s where a PKM tool should stand, just next to the todo list. this opened the way to more ideas I’ll share with you later.
What started a low ambition challenge ends up with an interesting new idea to explore and a new blog post. A good omen.
– Are we more constrained by the time we can dedicate to learn, reflect, experiment and share, or by the volume of information.
– Did you ever find ideas while cleaning your place?
PS: I took this opportunity to finish a big cleanup on my computers and servers as well. After all the updated and new setup I did, I archived backup, removed duplicate files, move disks around. Kind of tasks that takes hours and can be done without attendance. I’m ready to start 2016 with new tools, new servers, a refreshed mind, and a clean space. Let’s do plans.