Stop being overwhelmed


A memory pops up. My brain is reminded of a system I used a long time ago–early 90s. I was overwhelmed with accumulated stuff in my apartment, mostly. Over the course of a couple of months I solved the problem.

Here is what I did. Every night when I returned to my apartment I would count how many things I was carrying. Keys, wallet, maybe a few other things. Whatever the number of things I brought into the apartment that night, I would throw away that many things. Right then.

It didn’t matter what I threw away. Getting rid of a toothpick or a mattress would count the same.

I am going to try the same routine with psychic commitments: work, personal life. Commitments to others or myself.

I will not say “yes” to a new activity unless I close two existing loops in my life.

It doesn’t matter what the loops are, and it doesn’t matter whether they are tiny/trivial or massive. Tiny jobs occupy the same mental acreage as big jobs. And big jobs are just an aggregate of a thousand tiny jobs, organized in a certain sequence.

(Big jobs are overwhelming because we intuitively know that they are made of a thousand tiny jobs, but we don’t know what the tiny jobs are–and we don’t know what sequence they need in order to combine into a successfully completed big job.)

Every time I have tried to get back on the GTD horse the sheer number of open loops in my life has made tallying, organizing, and tracking an insurmountable task.

Let’s try this method. Nothing new in the metaphorical backpack until two things come out.