there is no such thing as "caught up"12 Sep 2019
foreword: i think i learned this lesson from my teacher-friend, danielle().
this is no such thing as “caught up.” it’s an illusion.
i first learned this in a work context. i noticed myself complaining to people (and myself) with a repeated line, so often repeated that it began to felt canned:
someone: “how are you?”
me: “you know, just trying to catch up on work.”
and i heard this from other people, too. and once i noticed it, it was literally everywhere.
it was especially poignant when people would talk about their email inboxes (which, i hear, we should really think about using differently (see deep work() and this article())). there is SUCH a powerful drive to clean out one’s inbox. talking about the number of unread emails almost became like a really sick badge of honor.
what i learned about this narrative is that it is deeply unhelpful. it encourages doing more. and, in some contexts, doing more isn’t necessarily bad. but i feel like where more gets bad is when more takes the place of strategic. strategy is about doing the right things at the right time to advance yourself towards a goal. and cleaning out my inbox is actually often not strategic.
so what i’m practicing (and have been for a while but have been reinvigorated by through an on-going conversation with some loved ones of mine (s/o e.r. crew!) is being strategic and letting the rest go. the question for myself these days is this:
given all the things to do, what do i need to do today to keep myself moving most effectively towards the vision of the world i want?
footnote - to add some nuance to this, what i guess i really make to say is that being “caught up” isn’t that important. it is a temporary state, just like everything else. and, in general, we spend most of time our time not caught up. the striving for caught up is partly what makes it so toxic. learning how to live in the not caught up space is what feels way more important. how do i continue to swim without exhausting myself knowing that the islands of “caught up” are few and far between?
words / writing / post-processing
477w / 12min /