Herding Fish

coaching for artists and makers

Close those windows

8 August 2021

Having a tiny computer within reach all day long isn’t something the human brain was designed to keep up with. In a typical day, we encounter volumes of information that far exceeds what we can process. I know some days it feels like I’m drowning in ideas, and the anxiety that generates stops me in my tracks.

Personally, I’m hardwired for the physical world. I’ve tried digital planners and task tracking apps but came right back to a physical diary with space for lists. I plan out things I want to do in the weeks/months ahead, then put deadlines and mini-lists into the week ahead, so I know what I need to focus on.

Then I pick up my phone. Click and scroll as I drink my coffee and off we go. The dopamine ping of reacting to something interesting is far more satisfying that actually reading the article, or deciding if or where the idea is useful. The browser tab gets parked to read later and I move on. The fun was in the finding, and it might be useful someday, just not right here in this very minute.

I’m building a habit of inspecting my phone on a Sunday morning and reviewing all the open tabs lurking in there. Making myself read, apply, or delete. And then closing them all down. Something that seemed terribly important on Tuesday afternoon will often have cooled by the weekend and it’s fine to just let it go. Useful tips and niblets of info are only useful if you can find them again, so they get siphoned off into a physical notebook where I find them again when I come to need them.

The habit of looking and deleting has helped reduce the fog and push back on the gnawing sense of dread from trying to remember far too many things. My current focus is on doing fewer things with more focus, and closing the windows seems to help.