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05 Feb

101.3 Mosquito tasks

Imagine you have two main projects in your calendar, that you should be working on. In fact, any step in those two projects is bound to make you quite content with yourself, to make you feel that you are making progress, that you are safe and on track, and that you will manage to get it done.

However, there are new emails in your inbox. You have 150 tabs open on your computer. You have to take the dog to the vet. And make the forms for a holiday. And clean your desk. And remember to buy clothes softener. And answer that email from that important person, else you might get in trouble. And answer that email from that member of your family, else you will feel bad about yourself. And possibly you also have a few more such little tasks on your mind, all coming up to sting you with guilt, to cloud your judgement - because how should you answer that email, and is this really the best time to ask for a holiday, and what organizational material would you need to buy for your desk, and what tone should you answer that email in, and it's the third time you forgot buying that damn clothes softener.

So, your mind is frequently distracted by these little nags and complaints. Despite working, you feel like you are not achieving enough, or you are not spending that on what you actually should, you feel pulled in various directions at the same time. And those two projects? Well, you haven't made much progress yet, because you need to be in a calmer state of mind to even be able to dedicate time to them. So instead you kinda procrastinated all morning, doing all sorts of other important things, trying to escape this cloud of tasks that is gathering upon your head, and the confusion and distraction that you are feeling.

The human mind doesn't do well with having to remember very many little things. In fact, the only way in which it can generally remember such things is not by putting them aside in neat boxes, and picking them up exactly when you should do them. But rather it remembers them by repetition. By constantly reminding itself that it has to do this, and it has to do that, and let's not forget that one. Many of us have many little tasks to attend to. While each of these tasks is simple, in and of itself, and should not take much time, in and of itself, when such tasks gather in clouds over our heads - and they tend to - they bring confusion and a constant sense of guilt. We shall call them, for their propensity of gathering together and stinging our wellbeing, despite their inherent small size, mosquito tasks.

Most important of all, you shouldn't make mosquito tasks a priority. You will end up spending your day on little nothings, tasks that you will forget as soon as you got rid of, and it will feel to you at the end of the week that you might have spent a few days doing nothing (or at least nothing memorable) at all. However, a system is needed to deal with such tasks, otherwise, they keep on crowding your attention.

The only way to get back to a place of clarity is to catch all these mosquito tasks with a net, and put them somewhere where you can deal with them. Get them out of your mind, so that your brain won't have to keep reminding itself of them. Then have a dedicated time to address them, in a batch, or some of them.

See connected lesson 101.3 Mosquito tasks

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