Friday, August 24, 2018

Two Tabs

This week I added two open browser tabs on my personal computer.

Tab 1 - Long-term
At the beginning of the week, my brother Mike visited a few days and stayed over. I showed him some of my favorite spots in the city (cafes and restaurants!) and we had a good long chat one morning at Streamline Cafe in the Outer Sunset. After chatting with him, I was suddenly inspired to do a bit of soul-searching and came up with this quick exercise:

First, I wrote down the title, “Work I would do even in retirement.” I filled out high-level bullets—there were three.

Second, I wrote down the title, “How could I get there?” I copied each of the bullets from the first list and created three sublists for each: “Already doing,” “Dream job as I see it right now,” and “Could be doing.” It took twenty minutes.

This exercise showed me a few things:
  1. The three main bullets were consistent with messages I’d been telling myself as life visions. They were each rooted in a belief I have about the world, and each something I’d call an unusual obsession. 
  2. To my surprise, I saw I was already doing things in two of the three categories. They were things I hadn’t stopped to consider. Once I’d done them, I’d immediately dismissed them because they didn’t seem as impressive anymore. I’d forgotten the time and effort that went into them.
  3. There were also lessons. For example, one of the Already Doing is a small volunteer activity that I’d started a few years ago, and the sheer amount of time that has taken convinced me that doing more volunteer work in the space is not feasible right now.
This list is now Tab 1.

Tab 2 - Short-term
The second tab was inspired by a post pushed to me on a promoted Tweet. Usually promoted Tweets are not a source of life advice, but this one hit home because I felt it diagnosed me. The tl;dr was: every day, instead of a To-Do list, focus on one thing that has the most impact. 

There are always going to be the folks saying this is crazy, of course you need a list to keep track of things. Tab 2 is still the To-Do list I have been keeping up. What I’ve changed is to split the list into the “mundane life things” (like picking up an item at the store, packing my stuff to move), and then a single bullet or two of the important thing to do each day.

These are experiments. I'll see how effective they are in three to six months.

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