Fresh Start

Personal finance software is generally dreadful, but in my household we've settled on You Need a Budget (YNAB) because it works closest to how we think about money. It's not perfect but it's certainly quite good.

We've been lost in a sea of budget software and planning for a while now, but we're finally getting to a point where YNAB and long-term plans are beginning to gel. It's starting. That doesn't mean we have it licked, and that means we do mess up.

With other finance software, recovering from a mess up is hard. It means a new file and complete reorganization, or reconciling out the wazoo. This is something YNAB is great at because of a single feature: Fresh Start.

Lots of people start over to reorganize, or because they stopped using YNAB for a while and just want a fresh start.

Fresh Start is great because it's got a positive vibe about it. It's not a monstrous, computer-y thing. The app simply says, "Hey, cool. Happens. I got this." And it does. It's a surprisingly human and guilt-free process, notable in both the software and financial worlds. Beyond little things like animations and copy, it proves that some features of products can be warm and helpful.

A Brand New Way of Seeing Things

I'm struggling to apply this same idea to my current state of GTD tools. The things I've felt in the past - my brain has it covered - are returning again, and outside of using Things for a daily check on what's up, my inbox is a mess of dozens of items. During my run this morning I pondered why this was.

Part of it is that I'm afraid to admit that this isn't quite working for me. It feels like I've failed this system in some way and, in turn, failed myself. While I will forgive myself, it would be lovely if Things offered a way for me to recover from this other than blitzing everything away manually. That process of deleting all my items? It's painful. Each swipe is a tiny reminder that I didn't get that thing done either.

I attach a lot of emotion to this, as you can see, and I suspect others do as well. If we set out to do something one way and it doesn't work, the question is, how long does it take us to recover and try once again?