Being away from my computer for much of the past few weeks really showed me how much mental clutter I've been accumulating as a result of my bad digital habits. Over the past several months, I've taken multi-tasking to new and dangerous levels and had noticed a precipitous drop in productivity that seemed like it was spiraling out of control. I literally felt like my brain might explode.
One good thing about time away from my computer was that I used it to think and write in my journal, trying to figure out what was wrong. Among the bad habits I noticed:
- Having multiple windows open, especially Gmail and Netvibes, that I continually and obsessively monitored and responded to. I read every email as it came in and spent WAY too much time reading my feeds.
- Procrastination, even when there was no good reason to put something off. That left stuff sitting in my brain without resolution.
- Daydreaming. This may have been a symptom of my mental clutter as much as being a source of problems, but I increasingly found myself going off into little mental fugue states as a sort of break.
- Spending a lot of time thinking about how other people should deal with their problems. One of my personal mental issues is that I'm a "fixer." I usually know what YOU need to do to solve your problems and I spend a lot of time thinking about that. This tends to get worse when I feel stressed, because certainly it's better for me to think about what's wrong with other people rather than thinking about my own issues.
- Allowing my desk and office to become physically cluttered. I work out of a small bedroom in my house and there isn't a lot of space for unecessary paper and files. Yet I allowed this stuff to accumulate over weeks and months. It only got worse when my office became the Christmas staging room. By the week before Christmas, I had a tiny hole from which to work, with every other inch of space filled with file cabinets, boxes and wrapping paper.
- Not doing a good job of considering my work tasks in relationship to priorities. This played out in a few ways. One was working on things that seemed appealing at the time; I rationalized this as following my creative impulses, but it was really just a form of procrastination. I also didn't look at my larger goals and make sure I was working on activities each day that took me closer to those goals--a form of just getting through the work on hand, but not in a good way.
- Related to the whole goal/priority thing, I realized that I'm not really clear in my head about what my big goals and priorities should be. I'd become so reactive and responsive to work and issues coming into me, I lost track of what I really want to have happen. This created its own form of mental clutter that created a vicious cycle, blocking me from really knowing what I want to do work-wise.
Tomorrow I'm going to write about some of the solutions I came up with, but for now I'm wondering if you've experienced these kinds of issues.
Do you have habits that add to your mental clutter? What do you do to deal with them?