Making Space

Saturday, 28 February 2009, 17:11 | Category : Life, working
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For someone with few friends, and a small family, and an increasingly large job, I seem to be an incredibly busy person. I think its mostly because of how many things I *want* to do – things that I’m constantly collecting information about, that are always getting transferred from to-do list to to-do list.

I end up suffering from information paralysis. I’ve got too many newsletters, too many books, and in the end, too many to-do lists.

This section of Emma by Jane Austen reminded me so much of myself:

“Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old. I have seen a great many lists of her drawing up at various times of books that she meant to read regularly through – and very good lists they were – very well chosen, and very neatly arranged – sometimes alphabetically, sometimes by some other rule. The list she drew up when only fourteen – I remember thinking it did her judgement so very much credit, that I preserved it some time; and I and I dare say she may have made out a very good list now. But I have done with expecting any course of steady reading from Emma. She will never submit to anything requiring industry and patience, and a subjection of the fancy to the understanding.”

I’ve spent even more time lately making lists, as recommended by the good man David Allen, author of Getting Things Done and Ready for Anything. Perhaps one of the most striking things I’ve read by him is regarding getting things off your mind and onto paper.

“Stress comes from unkept agreements with yourself. You can relieve that stress only by canceling the agreement, keeping the agreement, or renegotiating it. But you can’t renegotiate agreements with yourself that you forgot you made. Because psychic RAM has no sense of past or future, things filed there push on you to be done all the time. They must be made conscious and kept so, to alleviate the pressure.”

Now that I’ve seen the list, I’m going to start letting a few things go. I’ve got a horrible habit of being a horder, so even letting information go is difficult. Starting today I will reduce the number of email newsletters I get and never read, and set aside assigned time to do things that are important to me.

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