What do I feel most guilty about in my day-to-day tasks?
The saved items in my feed reader.
As I write, there are 8 saved items, ranging from 16 hours to 13 days old. When those links are hanging around, it means I haven’t done something with them.
I have usually read the items in question, but the saved area is a hold for links I want to use somewhere. That’s why 13 days is too long. It’s not quite two weeks, but I should have actioned it by now.
This isn’t the same as procrastination. It’s more a missed opportunity. I haven’t even considered working through the links, which means they’re pointless hanging around indefinitely.
There are two easy ways to deal with these links:
1. Delete them. The ruthless option;
2. Deal with them RIGHT NOW. The active option.
For me it’s roughly 80% dealing, 20% deleting. I tend not to delete unless the moment has well and truly passed.
All I need to do is sort everything out where they need to go. There’s never anything saved that will take up too much of my time.
I’ll clear through the 8 items that are still hanging and use a stopwatch to see how long it takes me to sort everything out.
[Time Passes...Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock...]
6 minutes 37 seconds to deal with 7 of the 8 items. The only article I didn’t move was a piece I hadn’t read yet (the 16 hour old piece). Of the 7 items, I deleted one and actioned the others.
I can feel less guilty again. In six and a half minutes, I have taken care of a fortnight worth of stuff that was making me feel guilty.
From now on, all I need to do is schedule a fortnightly task. 20 minutes set to one side and I should have it clear in less time than that. Much better than getting an occasional pang of guilt and rushing through the list, annoyed with myself.
[Note: I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and performed the task again today, before publishing. It worked brilliantly again. 20 items down to 2 in 18 minutes. The oldest item was 8 days old. In the time I spent, I did around 80% dealing and 20% deleting again. From the two trial runs, I've spent roughly one minute per item.]
When you’re faced with ultimately forgettable or picky little tasks, try setting aside a bit of time every now and then. It needn’t be a huge commitment, but it should be enough to stop those moments where you suddenly remember something and feel guilty that you didn’t do it sooner.
Not only can I now breathe a sigh of relief, but also celebrate that I have an ongoing plan to deal with any backlog I may get each fortnight.
I even managed to get this post written in the process. Win.
What is making you feel guilty and how will you deal with it?