Windows 95 by davidak, on Flickr

Do you sometimes know you should be more like Windows 8 but feel like a Costco-bought Dell using Windows 95 with 8 MB of RAM (and only because you went to Fry’s and bought 4 extra megs at $100 a piece and installed them yourself) running the new AOL 5.0 using a dial up modem?

Do you think you’re a Maverick but feel more like a Tiger?

Are you constantly adding apps to your phone that makes it run like a flip phone?

Am I making a point here? Yes. I may be stretching the limits of this analogy by the limitations of my knowledge of computer science but go with me on this one.

Your Brain Has a Cache

Yes. Your brain has a cache. I’d like to say it’s the background processing and may even include your subconscious. Then again, I may have abused the analogy, forgiveness is requested.

Clearing the Brain’s Cache.

Do you feel like you’re “always on?”

Do you agree to take on tasks because “it’ll just take a few minutes?”

Do you have trouble saying “no?”

A yes answer to any of these questions may mean that you need to clear your brain’s cache and delete some apps.

Delete Unnecessary Apps

A tweet from Carol Stephen prompted me to think more about my recent cache clearing, un-volunteering, and decluttering of tasks.

@gidgey Speaking of which, you’ve been writing up a storm lately! I’m getting a real kick out of watching you!—
Carol Stephen (@Carol_Stephen) December 07, 2013

I recently un-volunteered, after two and three years of helping my friends businesses and organizations. In a heartfelt email, I explained my dilemma and resigned from their social accounts. I gave them two months to slowly take them up and then on the dead date, I dropped six Twitter accounts and six Facebook Pages. Most of them were totally responsive and even took over their accounts early with expressions of gratitude and praise.

It Only Takes a Minute

Just like any computing device (laptop, desktop, phone) your brain has its limitations. Constantly pushing those limitations is going to take it’s toll.

Sure, it doesn’t take that much time to tweet (I’m famous for saying it’s about 40 seconds per tweet). The problem wasn’t in the actual tactics (posting, tweeting, replying). It was the processing and memory needed while my brain constantly searched for things that would be good for this account, that account, and another account. My brain never got a break.

The Siren Song of Productivity

Let’s face reality and admit that we worship productivity and often at the cost of our humanity (*cough* automating tweeting *cough*). Yes, I said it.

Geeks, Type A people, and introverts are famous for accepting new responsibilities, whether we want them or not, only then to sew these merit badges to our achievement vests which supports our identities. Yes, I include myself in this group. It’s hard to give up the things that, in our minds, make us who we are.

On the one hand, I like that my neighbors think of me as smart and geeky. On the other hand, I resent that they want me to download their camera, setup their printer, or what-have-you, when I’ve clearly and obviously just gotten home from work.

The hidden compliment in the task request is flattering. That flattery is the siren song luring us into the false sense of productivity: hyper productivity.

We’re doing so much for so many people that somewhere, somehow, quality will suffer. It may not be in that task, sure. Instead, your brain goes on a passive-aggressive strike. It withholds ideas from you. It hijacks your creativity. You start to become very automated. You lose the desire to engage in fun with your friends. Emails give you anxiety because you know there’s a task in them.

Know How to Use the Power of No

When someone asks you to help them connect their wifi, you’re under no obligation to do so immediately (unles the requester is your employer). You can say “no.” Just do it graciously.

“I’m sorry; I’m [burnt out, working on another project, taking the dogs for a walk] right now. Can I do it tomorrow instead?”

People respond very well to this. They respect it. There’s power in the word “no.”

The Action of Inaction

When I was a kid, it wasn’t possible to spend time online. Instead, we spent time outside. We didn’t have a whole lot of money so we got creative. We used rollerskates for generic barbie cars or built them sandcastle houses at the beach in 54-degree weather. We invented games, played tackle football at the school, colored, wrote stories, read books, made up dance routines to Copacabana, and played tag until the street lights came on.

That doesn’t seem like inaction does it? We didn’t wait to be entertained, we allowed for silence. We exchanged ideas. We engaged in the art of play. We had fun regardless of our limitations. This childhood (I’m a Gen Xer), gave me the tools to be okay with “doing nothing.”

Audit Your Tasks – Line up the Contenders

Like a beauty contest of misfits, you have tasks that can be delegated, outsourced, or reorganized. Only you can perform this task audit, though a trusted friend who is honest may help. If you’re a small business owner whose philosophy is the more clients the merrier, then you can’t just drop accounts like I did. However, you can always start small-one thing at a time.

Are you working under your pay-grade? If your cost-analysis says your time is worth $100 an hour, then it’s not efficient or cost effective for you to do $15/hour work. Find a way to outsource it. For example, my roofer friend who is sales-oriented, has to pull off the freeway to write a proposal. That’s a waste of his time and talent. I advised him to hire a secretary who could take dictation over the phone whether it’s a virtual assistant or someone at his home office. This is a case where “it will only take a minute” may cost you $85 an hour. Think about it.

Personally, since I am an employee and not a business owner, I have different ways to audit my life. For example, I’ve recently learned to enjoy my hour-long car commute. Instead of complaining about it (you got me, I may occasionally complain), I am now taking advantage of this time I already had. In fact, it’s totally built-in quiet time. Though I do call my mom from time to time, I don’t chat on the phone with friends. I find that I am getting ideas more often during this time. When I park, I write my ideas down while they are fresh.Writing notes allow your brain to go into rest mode.

The Results

Since I dropped those accounts at the end of October this year, I have written four posts for this blog (not including this one), one for my political blog, two for my devotional blog, and two for work (construction) with one pending review. That’s eleven posts in six weeks. For a while, I was writing a post a month (or less) among all four blogs.

I’ll let you be the judge, but my husband Mercier and my very good friend / brainstorming partner Carol have both noticed and commented upon how much more productive I have been since I cleared my cache.

That’s my story. What’s yours? Tell me in the comments below.