The hardest thing to do every day

This is so true, so obviously true, and still, so widely unknown or ignored… and so well written, that I just can’t resist copying it here. I bet nearly everyone who’s under 40 identifies his or herself with, to a greater or lesser extent (if you work with computers, greater it is).

An simple thought popped into my head yesterday as I was attempting to make some serious headway into my inbox of more than 250 unread items. For reasons I don’t particularly understand, it actually came to me in the form of a quote that could easily be a soundbite:

The hardest thing I have to do every day is to decide what to ignore.

I thought about it for a few minutes and realized how true it was. My email inbox is the obvious example. Every time I look, I’m faced with a bunch of crap to filter through. Hundreds of split-second decisions (trash, file, respond, defer, etc) need to be made. My RSS aggregator is the same way. It reminds me of how many things I’ve yet to deal with. There’s reddit and random links sent from friends via IM and email. Flickr. YouTube. Blog comments. Presentations and classes at work. Podcasts. The stack of unread books in my computer room. The list goes on and on.

In our culture of abundance, they’re nearly infinite in number.

I need to invert my thinking. I should be starting most days with a strong idea in mind of what I want to spent the majority of the day focusing on. If there’s time left, I’ll tend to the other distractions.

But some habits are just hard to break.

The frustrating thing about all this is that as our electronic tools evolve to more efficiently find information, I’m a bit more aware every day of how much stuff I am ignoring. Life was easier when I was ignorant of how much interesting stuff the world had to offer.


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