I really liked yesterday’s Zen Habits post: The Urgency of Piles
In it, Leo Babauta encourages us to think about plies of accumulated tasks (what I sometimes like to refer to as “inputs”) in a more neutral or even positive light.
The post also made me think about Oliver Burkeman‘s work, because in 4000 weeks one of the main takeaways was that you will literally never get ‘everything’ done, so why spend much time fretting over it?
The truth is that no matter what your organization system looks like, these piles are inevitable. The inputs can be temporarily blocked (and I think it is healthy to put some effort towards controlling one’s inputs as to not be bombarded with random things all the time!), but even without the interruptions we know that the piles are there, quietly accumulating in the background while we try to relax or focus on other things.
The contents of said piles are not always trivial. Sometimes my work piles include questions from patients who are really worried about something, or prescription renewal requests. Some things can’t necessarily just can’t (or shouldn’t) be peacefully accepted as they pile up.
But at the same time, I think Leo has a point. We (I?) have to stop thinking of these piles as negative or something wrong that needs fixing. If one pile accumulates because another aspect of life is being addressed, that’s not shameful. That’s just life.
I do feel like having general routines for when to empty my piles is helpful to me, as long as the routines are realistic and based on when there is truly time to address what is in each pile. Examples for me are:
- Generally clearing my EPIC inbox (or getting it as close as possible to zero) every day I am seeing patients
- Clearing out my work email inbox every Friday
- Emptying my gmail every Sunday
- Going through physical mail regularly and making sure anything ‘important’ is addressed by end of day Sunday
But these routines do have to be fluid and there has to be an air of gentleness and acceptance. If I have a sick child, I will likely get behind on some of this pile emptying. Luckily, there will be future Fridays/Sundays in which to clear the decks, and most likely anything urgent will float to the top (a phone call) and be addressed in some fashion.
Anyway, I enjoyed his post and will try to think of my piles with a bit more flexibility, gratitude, and curiosity in the future.
In other news, I’m in Colorado (for a very short time)!!! Tonight is the Brandi concert and today we are having lunch with one of my childhood best friends (we met in 2nd grade!) and her husband — I believe set them up on their first date in 10th grade or so.
We went here for dinner last night (we are staying out by Red Rocks) and it was awesome. Helpfully will have some dramatic mountain pix to share tomorrow!