System Overload

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sarah had a great post recently about clearing up "feature creep" (see ZenHabits' original post here to read more about feature creep and why it sucks to have it in your life.)

Basically, it likens the clutter we all accumulate in our lives--too many commitments, too many material possessions, too much on the go, and so on--to new features that computer programmers add to their computer applications. These new features that are constantly being updated often don't need to be added to keep the program functioning. They're not always improving the user's experience. They're added just for the sake of having more, tacked on just because you can. Because that's our mentality--why wouldn't we add more if we could? Why not take advantage of every.single.thing. that's available to us?

So, over time, you add features here and there and before long you're overloaded with STUFF. Who doesn't have a bulging closet or a dresser whose drawers won't shut because they're so crammed with your 35 white tank tops? Who never complains about not having any free time? Who wouldn't throw a puppy into a ceiling fan to have a simpler, less stressful life? HANDS UP IF YOU WOULDN'T THROW THE PUPPY. I THOUGHT SO.

The idea in Sarah's post and the ZenHabits post is to take inventory of your life and identify, of all the stuff that makes up a part of your life--from family and friends to job and volunteering to hobbies to everyday errands--and try to weed out the clutter, prioritizing what's most important to you, what you want to invest your energies in, and learn to focus on that.

I found the idea eye-opening and gave this some thought. See, I'm a clutter magnet. I have this constant need for more, more, more, and it's both good and bad. A couple recent examples:

-I've been stupid busy at work this week but on numerous occasions I have volunteered on other projects that I probably don't have capacity for. I want to be seen as an asset by having a piece of every project but in doing this I'm running the risk of spreading myself too thin.
-Now that all of our wedding presents are opened, we've realized we have four knife blocks. FOUR. We are two people. We don't need four knife blocks in our kitchen, but here we are, with more knives than a street gang.

Over the next little while I'm going to make a conscious effort to focus my energy on stuff that's most important to me:

-my new marriage!
-my job--doing my current projects to the very best of my ability and seeing them through to completion before jumping into new stuff I can't handle and handling any new projects with the attention to detail they deserve
-catching up with family and friends who I had limited time with before the wedding, when things were crazy and I was in wedding psychopath mode
-working out and eating well
-enjoying the holidays and the preparation for Christmas
-time for the things I love to do: reading and writing and playing piano and doing crafts

Things I can cut:

-junk food
-clothes I no longer wear
-old magazines
-crap off my computer
-six million gift bags I'm holding onto for no reason
-at least two knife blocks
-shoes that hurt so much they make me cry
-weekend schedules...instead I'll try to start being more flexible about my free time so it feels like it's actually fun and not another to-do list!

We'll see what happens. I'm hoping I'll notice a difference in the way I feel and function, just like after you defrag your's quicker, more efficient, easier to work with and less aggravating.

In the meantime, let me know if you need any knives for your kitchen. I have a couple sets to spare.

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  1. You are going to feel SO GOOD

    Trust me. This will cleanse and change your life and you are going to feel 1000% better

    You won't have to look at that stuff again
    You won't have to feel guilty
    You won't have to think about getting rid of it -- it's gone!

    Tell us how it goes.

  2. more knives than a street gang! LOL
    Definately need to try and get rid of some of those!

    I am always telling myself I am going to do this as well, but I find the thought of it so overwhelming I don't know where to

  3. FB-I'm pretty excited about having extra space and less stuff to have to navigate!

    HK-It feels pretty overwhelming right now but I'm sure I'll feel better once some stuff is gone. Until it accumulates again!