Bit Literacy

Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst is an interesting book. It is a call (as much as a tech book can have a “call”) to a life where you control the bits in your life, and not vice-versa. For many of us, whether at work or home, this is a lofty goal indeed.

It has the beginnings of system whereby you can be productive by actually doing things instead of worrying about fitting things into your system. The book provides a strong critique against such complicated systems (which, implicitly, includes GTD, although I disagree with him on this point) and seeks to move the reader towards simplicity.

More posts are coming this week about this book, but I wanted to touch on the major point of the book in this post. If you had to distill the premise, it would be to teach the reader how to organize bits. He breaks this down to emails, todos, pictures and other files.

For many of us, our inboxes/desktops/document folders are jumbled messes. You open your email and your inbox has a couple hundred items, some of which you’re working on, others you already did and some you haven’t even opened yet. Your desktop might look the same, filled with an assortment of pictures, documents, pdfs and illegally downloaded TV shows (for those criminals who can’t wait for the Sci-fi Channel to catch up with Doctor Who). We think it’s easier to find things if it’s all out in the open.

This is a hinderance to being productive because we end up spending more time trying to find stuff than we do working on it. We must, according to Hurst, organize our bits (which is a pretty funny thing to say) so that everything is easily identifiable, easily reached and (hopefully) easier to work on.

Bit Literacy does not guarantee “stress free productivity” but does promise less stress from things that are not important, like the size of your inbox. Stress from your projects is up to you.


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