Housekeeping Note :Bit Literacy


For a Tuesday, I had a big day. I got through all the important jobs — reviewing the Book Review, writing up the One Day University program for my second note on the subject, lunching alone at Café d’Al  — and most of the small ones as well. On top of all that, though, I took what I had read in Mark Hurst’s Bit Literacy to heart, and purged the bulk of my email in my inbox.

It feels, shatteringly, like my own private Protestant Reformation. (But enough about Les Huguenots, which I’ve been watching in the furtherance of my understanding of Verdi’s immensely more important grand operas. The DVD of Joan Sutherland’s farewell performance at the Sydney Opera is a lot cheaper than the Decca CDs. It may be wildly off-topic to point out, in the middle of this discussion of computer hygiene, that Dame Joan drifts through Lotfi Mansouri’s staging as if she were Dame Edna’s older, dafter sister, but I write under the protection of the Geneva Convention’s Droit de la Parenthèse.) Piff Paff! No more nasty email!

Of course most of what I didn’t delete was simply transferred to folders that I set up on the spot. That’s okay with Mr Hurst. You may ask, what difference does it make where you stash your email? but I know better, or at least enough to commit to the Bit Literacy credo of the Daily Emptied Inbox. 

Tomorrow (or whenever), I’ll bone up on “todos.” No point in quibbling: the younger people are comfortable, for the time being, with this brutalist appropriation of the Spanish plural for “all.” Which, to them, means, “to-do lists.” If you’re going to hold out against “hopefully,” you really need to know how to pick your fights.

For two or three years, I’ve had a copy of David Allen’s Getting Things Done on my desk. Literally, right next to Robert Graves’s The Greek Myths. It would be difficult to say which book has impressed itself more palpably upon my daily life. It is true that I grasped Mr Allen’s “two-minute rule” right away (it’s recommended, without credit, by Mr Hurst), but the fate of King Pentheus has had a much greater impact upon my behavior both in public and at my sites. In other words, Getting Things Done has left my stables pretty much in their Augean originality.

Whereas one night alone with Mr Hurst was all it took for me to light virtual bonfires of the vanities — the vanities of thinking that I would ever progress in a leisurely way through the bilgy backup of my unclassified email. Not that the inbox is empty. I saved the headaches for tomorrow. I know that I wasn’t supposed to; I ought to have gotten rid of everything in one fell swoop. My consolation, which I hope is not fatal, is that I didn’t plan to do anything today.

Seriously, folks: Bit Literacy. May I live to hail the fifth edition!