Out With the Old; In With the New

June 1, 2014

There are just so many things you can do in the course of a day and, no matter how industrious you are, and no matter how much energy you have, you still can’t squeeze twenty-seven hours into a twenty-four hour day.

In the old days, I used to feel guilty if I didn’t have time to do everything that needed to be done or that I wanted to do. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that guilt is a wasted emotion and I just needed to reorganize my priorities.

What I discovered about myself was that I get bored very quickly so, if I wanted to make sure that a task was done, I had to make sure the task was interesting enough for me to finish it. Obviously, you can’t always do interesting things so I had to prioritize my life.

One of my rules is that if it’s something that must be done, I start on it immediately and don’t allow myself to get derailed by something else. When I’m finished with the “must do” task, I reward myself with at least one or two interesting projects.

When I used to find myself repeatedly putting off doing something, I’d feel guilty for not doing it, but I didn’t feel guilty enough to motivate me to do it. So, I made another rule for myself. If I haven’t done what I was supposed to do within a few months, I gave myself permission to abandon it altogether. This new rule has been a lifesaver.

Instead of clogging my creative process with useless guilt, if I get rid of the things that don’t interest me, but aren’t on my “must do” list, I can be more productive with the things that do capture my attention. It’s really a win-win situation because it enables me to feel good about my life most of the time.

Admittedly, most people have a higher threshold of boredom and they can force themselves to slog away at tasks that don’t interest them. However, they often still battle guilt feelings when they leave people or projects hanging, always putting them to the bottom of the to-do list. I prefer to take those kinds of tasks completely off my to-do list so that I don’t have them hanging over my head.

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