So the weekend just flew by. And the last couple of weeks have been a blur. Check out the superb C&H toon below & you’ll know what I mean.
The natural reaction is to blame the workload at office. The reality is all of us are mature enough to realize that it just ain’t so. It ain’s so simple, it ain’t so specific, and it ain’t all to do with workloads.
Meanwhile last week, I came across an article that described the classic phases of burnout, and the long road to recovery. (Go read the full article; I won’t even provide excerpts here since there’s no way I could do justice to it).
Having “been there, done that” a couple of times in my life, I could totally relate to it. As I wrote on one of my egroups:
I think the article is bang on, both in terms of causes & cures. However, the cures are never as easy. And not all of us may have the luxury of changing aspects of our jobs. This is particularly awful in indian context since we as a culture are not used to saying or hearing “no”. But the most important thing is to recognise that it’s happening. And that the causes are as much to do with our own inability to say “no” (to customers, to bosses, to our own urges to fit everything in) as anything else.
And then I came across Fred Wilson’s short piece titled “If The Message Is Important, It Will Find Me”. He says:
Like many of you, I participate in a host of messaging services; email, texting, BBM’ing, twittering, facebooking, instant messaging, and blog commenting to name a few of them. It’s become impossible for me to read every message that is directed at me. I try hard to get to all of my messaging but I’ve reached the point where I don’t sweat it anymore. I know that I won’t see every message that is sent to me and that’s OK with me.
And I got to thinking, “Surely there’s more to it. I guess I’m not the only one dealing with ennui & stress brought on an overload of information, always-connectedness and things to do.”
There can be two responses to this problem (assuming you are interested in finding a solution, and have moved beyond denial): the first is to figure out ways of improving productivity, of getting more done in the time we have. GTD & its variants are part of this, as are methods like time management, etc. And having been a GTD acolyte for 4 years, I can attest to its effectiveness (Thank you David Allen). The problem with this approach is that we’re figuring out ways of running upwards faster & faster on a descending escalator. And just when we seem to be making progress the escalator speeds up. Time & time again!
All my life I have been an information junkie, and since I love conversations, I have always been part of various egroups, blogs, and other social networks. Given the usual professional & personal commitments, once in a while the escalator analogy totally fits!
So I’m taking my own advice, and reducing some stuff for the moment. I’ve already unsubscribed from a few groups/lists (sorry guys! You know I still love you & all that). I intend to reduce my blog-reading to 40 blogs from the current 85 before the week is over. I’m also reducing twitter to its daily RSS feed (flirting with thoughts of getting out altogether, but let’s see), & subscribing to weekly/monthly digests for other egroups (2-3 mails a day apiece). I shall also go off Facebook for a short while, and check it once a month (it was down to a weekly thing anyway). I also intend to be on google chat only about 30 mins every week or so. And the movies will reduce drastically once the seventymm subscription comes to an end in July. (By which time we should see some great movies in the theatres, goddammit!)
So what am I not cutting on? Let’s see! There’s still the books & mags, the 40 odd blogs, the smooth conversations group, meeting people, family, phone calls, 100 odd emails a day. There’s also the job to do (as a means of fulfilling all the other exploits; after all kids have to be fed, vacations need to be taken, and books need to be bought). There are also the consulting gigs (all unpaid as of now), the lectures at B-schools (never let go of a chance to corrupt the young), and the dinners & lunches (plants & animals were invented so that we could eat them, no?). To handle all this, GTD practices will continue.
The point is to be able to take stock of your commitments, prioritise them & reduce some stuff. Think of it like switching off the AC in your car while driving uphill. Once you have the space, you can add it again. Obviously, some of it adds itself automatically to the pile. And just as obviously, simplification can’t be a one-shot solution. It’s a continual progress like most good things in life. So I do expect some struggles.
Wish me luck. Speak to you soon. Till then have fun (was gonna say “be good”, but then what’s the fun in that, eh?)