Thursday, January 21, 2010


Does anyone else find that the new year brings a new outlook on life? I find that January, much like June (my birthday) and September, is a sorting month. If life is like a desktop, the new year gives me a chance to pour myself a cup of tea, play some vintage jazz, set aside an hour or two, and work from one side of the desk to the other - until everything is organized in tidy piles, colour-coordinated Post Its, detailed To Do Lists, and an overflowing recycling bin.

I found a few interesting articles that talk about responsibilities in the new year, and how to slim your tasks down to a more manageable size. One of them, from the Harvard Business Review, outlines the fine art of saying "no" which I find is generally lost in modern society. Not "no" to the good things, the helpful things, the useful things, but "no" to the things that are incidental or motivated by guilt. Saying "no" has been as useful to me as saying "yes"(to the right things) in my quest to maintain a healthy, balanced schedule.

I also came across this mental state matrix which not only is fun to stare at (I have a thing for matrixes...matrixi?) but also can help with how and when to say "no", and how to understand your stress level based on the element of uncertainty and patience available:

Similarly, an article in the Globe & Mail reviewed a book by John Freeman called "The Tyranny of E-Mail". In it, Freeman quotes an anonymous commenter who warned President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 that "the stenographer, the typewriter, and the printing press are invaluable agents of civilization, but they have their drawbacks. They have inundated us with a plague of words." And, I'd add, duties.

One of Freeman's tips is
Don't check your e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night. It just stirs up worries, and erodes boundaries between personal and work life.
As for me, I'll be taking Monday nights off, spending Tuesdays exclusively with Andrew on date night, and making myself get out of the house on Saturdays to see the city and meet with people for some quality face time. Without a time limit.

Don't be surprised if you can't reach me by phone or email. It's not personal. I'm just working on my Mental State Matrix.

1 comment:

bykechik said...

Oh yes, I concur completely: New Year's, (my) birthday, and September are always the times of New Beginnings for me. And I love it. You do what you need to: say 'no' for all the best reasons, and say 'yes' for all the right reasons, too!