Psychic Weight - Dealing with the things that press on your mind
I was really stressed out ten years ago. I felt that familiar pressure between my eyes and felt like all the things that remained undone were pressing on me. I called it "psychic weight." I have since then collected my Productivity Tips and written extensively on the topic of productivity and getting things done. I'm going to continue to remind YOU that Self-Care Matters in between my technical and coding topics. The essence of what I learned was to let go.
The Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
Everyone has stress and everyone has pressure. There's no magic fix or silver bullet for stress, but I have found that some stressors have a common root cause. Things that stress me are things I think I need to do, handle, watch, take care of, worry about, sweat, deal with, or manage. These things press on me - right between my eyes - and the resulting feeling is what I call psychic weight.
For example: When the DVR (Digital Video Recorder) came out it was a gift from on high. What? A smart VCR that would just tape and hold all the TV Shows that I love? I don't have to watch shows when the time and day the shows come on? Sign me up. What a time saver!
Fast forward a few years and the magical DVR is now an infinite todo list of TV shows. It's a guilt pile. A failure queue. I still haven't watched The Wire. (I know.) It presses on me. I've actually had conversations with my wife like "ok, if we bang out the first season by staying up tonight until 4am, we should be all ready when Season 2 drops next week." Seriously. Yes, I know, Unwatched TV is a silly example. But you've binge-watched Netflix when you should have been working/reading/working out so you can likely relate.
But I'm letting go. I'll watch The Wire another time. I'll delete it from my DVR. I'm never going to watch the second season of Empire. (Sorry, Cookie. I love you Taraji!) I'm not going to read that pile of technical books on my desk. So I'm going to declare that to the universe and I'm going to remove the pile of books that's staring at me. This book stack, this failure pile is no more. And I'm not even mad. I'm OK with it.
Every deletion like this from your life opens up your time - and your mind -for the more important things you need to focus on.
What are your goals? What can you delete from your list (and I mean, DROP, not just postpone) that will free up your internal resources so you can focus on your goal?
Delete those emails. Declare email bankruptcy. They'll likely email you again. Delete a few seasons of shows you won't watch. Delete Pokemon Go. Make that stack of technical books on your desk shorter. Now, what positive thing will you fill those gaps with?
You deserve it. Remove psychic weight and lighten up. Then sound off in the comments!
* Image Copyright Shea Parikh / used under license from getcolorstock.com
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Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
I would say that even for important stuff (work/study stuff, as opposed to TV shows) I find it hard to prioritize. Just bought The Imposter Handbook that you wrote a foreword for and recommended and started reading it, while the ng-book for Angular 2 is still waiting for me as well as Machine Learning course in Coursera and lots of other catch-ups to do.
At the same time, I don't want to /delete/ them from my desk, as each one of them is super important.
Here's something I wrote 10 years ago along somewhat similar lines: <a href = http://howmanyroads.blogspot.com/2007/04/of-to-do-lists-old-and-new.html">The only way to manage a to do list, is to not have one :) </a>
Life is like an open world RPG, side quests are fun and easy to pass the time, but you have to finish those main quests at some point. That's where the real satisfaction lies.
My psychic boulderstone is that I am no longer reading enough technical books !
To get rid of that, any recommendations for .Net Core Books ( ASP.Net mainly ) ?
As much as I like google'ing articles and the selection of books on amazon being huge ...
Any book in particular you'd recommend ?
Balancing the family and work is the hardest thing I have ever done. I want to be there for my children but I also want to show them what hard work is like and things in life don't come easily.
On the other hand, I like having access to some seasons on DVD/Digital so that I can go back and re-watch some old favourite episodes occasionally :)
So I stopped watching it.
Entertainment should be about entertaining you. If you're doing things you don't want to do in the name of entertainment, then you're probably doing it wrong.
Ultimately, I needed to let go of most of these books, and many other things as well. If I want to read it in the future I can buy it at that point and not have the mental weight of my failure just off to my side when I am trying to accomplish something.
Of course, I still need to learn how to stop hoarding articles, tutorials, and cool projects that I will never get around to in Pocket but one step at at time.
It is great to hear people that I follow, like you, dealing with some of the same struggles since it removes the idea that somehow they are able to accomplish it all and it is just a failure on my part that I can't.
It's subtle but it links to a NSFW site which is not relevant to this conversation.
The best part is after you purge these "failure piles," you never, ever miss them. :)
Right now the biggest "psychic weight" is my current job. It's become a very unhealthy work environment. Well, I say "become", but it became unhealthy by slow degrees many years ago and I'm only now recognizing the resulting burnout and related issues. Something something frog something something boiling water and all that.
So I'm now working on cleaning up my position a little bit, making it a little less of a hot mess for the next guy. Once that's done I'm quitting. I'll figure out what's next after I've taken a little time to rest and heal.
The thing that got to me was when I started to think, is all of this stuff really important or even remotely actually interesting? All the "funny" posts by friends I couldn't stop reading, all the selfies of the same people over and over, the trillions of cat videos (well I did kinda like those the best, hehe), all the games I played. And it hit me: it isn't, it's all just amusement, and I can easily do without it. And I could. And I do.
Never going back. The tablet is the next one to go, and good riddance.
When I think of a thing that needs doing, I label it Now, Next, or Never. If it's literally the most important or most useful thing I could be doing with my time, and/or it needs doing immediately before I miss the opportunity, I do it Now. If it's the most important or useful thing out of all the things that are left after the thing that's labeled Now, or if I know a good chance to do it is coming up osmeitme soon but isn't here yet, then I'll do that Next. Having a Next means I don't have that period of inactivity while I try to work out what I'm doing when I finish what I'm doing Now, and it means I'm keeping an eye out for opportunities to get started so I don't miss them.
Meanwhile, if I think about a task for a while and it doesn't seem useful, or I don't know when I'd ever find time to do it, then I'll label it Never. That means I'm allowed to forget about it. I don't have to feel guilty because I've been meaning to learn how to play the piano, or speak Russian, or whatever it is, and it's been so long and I haven't done it yet... it's gone, it's off the list. That doesn't mean I can't bring it back later, but for now, I'm saying no, and I'm letting go of it.
Other than that, I sometimes scribble down tasks so I don't forget them (usually on the back page of my notepad, which gets torn out and thrown away from time to time), but there's no ordering, no categorisation. It's a to-do bucket, not a list; when I finish what I'm doing Now, then I start what I was planning to do Next, and I select one more thing from the bucket to take its place. The effort of evaluating the things in the bucket happens only when a task has been completed and I'm moving on, rather than a daily procrastination. As we know from Agile, any priorities assigned to tasks today may well have changed by the time I actually get round to them some time next week - or next month, or next year.
All I have to hold in my head is what I'm doing Now, and what I want to do Next. At work, if your boss asks what you're up to, then saying "this is Now, and that is Next" is almost always enough detail to show them you're on top of things. At home, there's no need to stress yourself out with a huge list of demands on your time. Now, Next, Never, and *maybe* a patiently-waiting bucket. That's it.
Once there was a man on a long journey who came to a river. He said to himself: “This side of the river is very difficult and dangerous to walk on, and the other side seems easier and safer, but how shall I get across?” So he built himself a raft out of branches and reeds and safely crossed the river. Then he thought to himself: “This raft has been very useful to me in crossing the river; I will not abandon it to rot on the bank, but will carry it along with me” And thus he voluntarily assumed an unnecessary burden. Can this man be called a wise man?
I like to think of the things I delete that they'll come around again if they're truly important. I don't think I've ever regretted deleting anything off my todo list.
I always read your blog and I've never write any comments until now.
I'm really stress out with things of work and other stuff and reading this post makes me realize that I worried too much of everything.
I guess i have to let go some weight that doesn't concerns me.
Thanks for those words you wrote.
I really thank you.
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