|I have an idea for how to diagnose hidden problem areas in my life, but I haven’t been able to truly validate||it yet. When routines change or life gets unexpectedly busy, things begin to fall out. When the going gets tough, stuff starts to beak.|
For instance, I am usually very disciplined about keeping my email inbox empty. I use a no-think filing system and track emails with tasks in my to-do list. There is no reason an email should ever sit in my inbox, and yet, when I get busy, my inbox grows. Soon I have full inbox and a creeping dread about potential time-bombs lurking in my email, unnoticed and unread.
Another good example is the general tidiness of my home. I have worked hard to rid myself of extraneous possessions, and after making real progress, I have a place for everything, and everything is in its place. I love to be able to bask in the glow of an uncluttered living space, and yet whenever I get busy, stuff begins to accumulate on my kitchen table and in the corners of my closet. Soon I am unable to bask in the glow of anything, and I can no longer find my car keys.
So what does this mean? I think it means that mostly functional systems are completely broken. What good is a system that doesn’t work when life gets busy? There is too much friction in my email process. I just don’t know where it is. I have too much stuff. I just don’t know what to throw out. These are not easy things to fix. The benefit is knowing where I ought to spend my next good bit of high-quality work. Another, perhaps more subtle benefit of this is that when things begin to fall out, I know pressure is building.
If this pressure is because suddenly I am more busy, then this is not useful. I know when I’m busy. Sometimes, however, the pressure is building because I am having trouble working. It may be that I need to track down the reason for my procrastination, or maybe I am so intent on avoiding boredom that I am no longer able to focus. In all cases, these known signs of trouble can put me on the lookout for problems brewing in other areas of my life.
In theory, If I were ever able to fix all my friction areas, I wouldn’t have any indications of other danger. If everything is running smoothly, nothing falls out. This will never happen. I’m always going to be a basket case in some way. At least I can make this work for me.