Originally posted in this newsletter.
When lists lose their pop
You are a person who relies on the usefulness of lists.
So you’re using something to make lists of what you plan to do, read, or buy. This list could be in a notebook, an app, or one of those listening machines which you teach to do your bidding. (Or is it the other way around? Alexa, give me purpose.)
Among my lists, I have a one where I save all content (text, audio, or video) for later. But I’ve never gotten that list to zero.
Does a list of longstanding items prevent me from getting shit done? No, it does not. But those items in my list which I always skip are not doing me any good. That video from last year’s newsletter is like a shirt in the back of my closet － I want to wear it, but let’s be realistic: I’m never putting it on. Often, these items make me feel guilty, and many more times they make me feel overwhelmed with all the clutter.
When it’s time to wipe your lists 🧘🏽♀️
I’ve had the same Pocket account since 2009 (when it was called Read it Later). I rarely browse and read at the same time. I prefer to save then read, later. Over the years, I’ve consumed a lot of content.
Last week, I decided to create a new Pocket account. It was a last ditch solution to an issue where Pocket’s share feature won’t forget emails I’ve shared to in the past. It’s too easy to accidentally share with people I have no intention of sharing with. The new account has no share history. It has no history at all. I have a blank slate.
This is, unintentionally, almost like what I did to my email when I first decided to target Inbox Zero. I archived everything that was more than a day old. I gave myself a fresh start.
And it felt fucking liberating.
There was no single critically important email that I missed. I expect the same to be true for most of my lists.
And because I felt less overwhelmed by the backlog, I actually got through more of what I wanted to do.
I need to remember that my eyes are bigger than my stomach. I tend to take on more than I can handle. This manifests as too many videos to watch, spreading myself so thin I can’t handle the email load, or taking on too many tasks in a day. Enthusiasm is not a problem, as long as I recognize this and keep my lists in check.