clearing the plate so we may fill it

Brad makes an excellent point:

There is an incredible amount of value in a clean slate and an empty inbox every day. Instead of burning up hours on an endless stream of interesting (but ultimately useless) content, I am faced with a blank page and a free block of time to write, code, design, create and explore on a much more frequent basis.

I suffer from a plague of options. It used to be sufficient just to weed out the ones I wasn’t capable of pursuing. Then I filtered out those I found uninteresting. Now it’s gotten to the point where I have to choose between Awesome Opportunity A and Amazing Situation B, and it’s hard work.

For instance, I stopped being a GeekDad last month. I hadn’t been writing much for them anyway, but declaring it over meant that I could unsubscribe from mailing lists, close my “story ideas” file, clear the Moo Cards out of my wallet, and generally stop worrying so much about missing (self-imposed) deadlines. I was a little sad to lose the opportunity, but I was overjoyed at this new clear space in my life. My inbox actually reached zero!

I’ve also decided not to worry so much about the kinds of opportunities I’m offered. When I have a dozen choices for college, any one of which will give me the opportunity to learn what I need, it doesn’t matter so much if one of them doesn’t turn out. (Mind you, MIT would have been impressive. It’s just that wherever I end up will be just as useful.)

Instead, I’m creating more. Note that I didn’t say starting more projects, because that way lies madness. The focus now is working, not starting. Completion, not ideas. If you know me at all, you know how difficult that can be.

3 thoughts on “clearing the plate so we may fill it

  1. Meanwhile, I never delete anything, and my work e-mail always hovers around 95% full. The thing is, it’s my storage system. I’ve been wanting to find out how much of a raise comes with promotion to associate professor and lo and behold, I still had an e-mail from last May with the latest information, one I don’t remember ever reading. I did discard some old e-mails with pdf attachments and now I’m down to 86% capacity, which is nice and comfy.

  2. Inboxes are hard things… but of course that’s only the tip of the iceberg. I’ve got half a dozen or more in-process projects on the work table, another dozen in my head; this becomes overwhelming when the amount of time available to work on them becomes smaller and smaller until finally I’m so overwhelmed I just read a book. I haven’t written in weeks, I haven’t knit anything in at least two weeks. Really. So perhaps I just need to arbitrarily decide that I don’t do something anymore…? Just to clear that mental (and physical) space and dedicate it to something else that I already do. Funny how important those last four words are!

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