Explore DFW‎ > ‎

The Meta Level

The meta level is a level of thinking that is distinct from the thinking done as we work.  If the point of productivity is getting things done, then the meta level is a necessary evil.  While it is necessary to maintain effectiveness and efficiency, it also consumes time and resources we could otherwise apply to get things done.  Seeking an appropriate balance requires reflection and keeping a constant eye on one's own habits.

There's the things we do: fix a cupboard, do the shopping and cleaning, and so on; at work, we prepare reports, call people, process forms, etc.  These are the ground level things.  The things that define our jobs, our careers, our hobbies and avocations.  They're the things we do to earn a living, and to lead a meaningful life.  This is the ground floor.

The meta level is the next level up; it's your work, only abstracted.  Things like keeping a calendar of events, a todo list, a general task management method, and so on.  These are things that we need to remain effective and efficient at the ground level.  It takes time and effort to maintain a calendar and a todo list and all that stuff.  So the more time you spend working on your calendar and your todo list, the less time you have to actually do the ground level work.  This is like the mezzanine level.

The meta level has its own meta level too.  This is where you choose or invent a task management system, and learn how to do it well; this is where you tweak the system to optimize it.  And this is where you can burn a great deal of time and effort.