Don’t Let Imaginary Obligations Stress You Out

Sometimes we act as though we have a lot more loaded on ourselves than we really do. We set up these expectations not with others, necessarily, but with ourselves which can then prevent us from meeting real deadlines without feeling overwhelmed.

Suppose, for example, you started a weblog that you try to have new content in every day. (I know, I know; where do I get these crazy examples?) If you aren't charging for the "service" and you're not being paid for it, it needs to be in your mental category of Optional not Required activities.

Yes, it's good to set goals and keep up with them. Yes, it leads to improved skills or other benefits. But, ya don't gotta!

The things you do have to do by a certain time or on a certain day will sometimes add up to a large list. This is when you can make an agreement with yourself to put other things on hold.

If a window of low stress comes during your break and you feel like it, sure, but do not feel a speck of guilt over making a plan to opt out of optional activities for a set period of time.

Keep yourself happy and relaxed and rewarded.


As you may guess, this tip comes with the announcement that Discardian will be on holiday until mid-September. Please enjoy the archives in the meantime and happy discarding!

It’s time: #3 – watch it or dump it

Hello you Netflix & Tivo subscribers and chronic movie renters and library DVD checker-outers and movie buyers. How many unwatched shows do you have sitting around? And how long have they been waiting for your attention?

If they don't linger for long, then good for you. Carry on, just be sure that anything in your home at the start of the weekend, gets some action by the end of it.

However, for the rest of us, with, oh for example, two unwatched movies bought months ago and two Netflix discs that only arrived a few days ago but only because I sent back the two that had sat there for weeks I tell you weeks, here's the plan:
– cancel the Netflix account
– don't buy any new movies until you've watched the ones you already bought
– only check out things you'll definitely watch tonight or tomorrow.

Take that subscription money and those saved late fees and foolish expenditure funds and put 80% of it into savings and invest the rest in really good chocolate. Now THAT I bet you'll take care of tonight.

It’s time: #2 – discard a bias

Just get over it, okay? Especially if it's inconveniencing you. Many times it's more work to maintain the bias than to find the workaround for it.

Here's my example:

The fluff & fold laundry nearest my home is staffed by a couple ladies who are really a bit odd. They violate the (previously) unwritten law: We'll both pretend that the launderer does not see my dirty clothes.

They once asked my boyfriend if he had a girlfriend because "There are ladies clothes in this bag with yours". Um, it's the Castro folks, maybe they're his.

Worse than that nosiness, though, they'll even ask about stains. Now that's really beyond the pale. Er, so to speak.

So, even though the nearest laundromat is about 4 long blocks further away, I stopped taking my stuff to the fluff & fold at the bottom of my hill. Even when the last thing I feel like doing is laundry. Even when I'm crazy busy and it would be so worth it to pay someone else to take care of this stuff.


The solution is simple: just don't give them anything I'd be embarrassed to be asked about.

I hope they like my "Colbert Has Stones" t-shirt.

The Five Minute Fairy

Really, five minutes isn't very much time out of your day, even out of the last hour before bed. You can knock something off the needs-doing list without even really noticing the impact and it's amost as if someone else flew in and made it happen.

Don't plan it. Don't think about it hard. Just suddenly turn into the five minute fairy every now and then and whisk away some annoyance from tomorrow.

Good tasks for these sudden flurries of activity: carrying out the trash, rounding up the dirty dishes from around the house & putting them in the sink, readying something to mail, washing a batch of those dishes, picking up the clothes from the bedroom floor, putting the shoes & coats back where they belong, laying out clothes for tomorrow, dusting a room, cleaning the toothpaste spots off the bathroom mirror, taking the extra junk out of your purse or backpack that you really don't need to tote around for another day.

Traveling happier

1. Know what to expect at the critical connections. Check your flight's carry-on regulations and confirm your flight times. Confirm in advance the timing you'll need to be sure not to miss or run for your transport (be it plane, train or bus).

2. Carry some water and a light snack with you. It makes waiting in lines easier and can get you through a situation where the provided food is unpleasant without sending you into a hungry tailspin.

3. Carry less. Check out One Bag for some great tips. Light packing is so much less of a hassle!

Discard World Ignorance

Take some paper and make three columns down which you place the numbers 1 to 243.

Over the course of the day, write down the names of every country you can think of.

To give you a little help here are the breakdowns by letter:
A – 18
B – 18
C – 23
D – 4
E – 7
F – 6
G – 15
H – 4
I – 9
J – 4
K – 8
L – 9
M – 22
N – 16
O – 1
P – 13
Q – 1
R – 3
S – 30
T – 14
U – 7
V – 6
W – 2
X – none
Y – 1
Z – 2

Now, using a different color pen, take a look at a List of Countries and see how well you did. When you're done filling and correcting the names you missed, go read the entry for the first of the ones you didn't know.

If you do this every week, by the end of a year, you'll know about the whole world.

Saturday Status?

How was your Friday flake out? Did you do fun things and sleep in today and generally enter the weekend very relaxed? Hope so.

Today is a bit of an assessment day. How are things going with you now as compared to, say, this time last year? What's changed and what hasn't? What do you still want to change?

Do a little soul searching.

Take a little stroll around your house.

Balance your checkbook and get a picture of your overall financial situation.

Note your progress, your problem areas, and your next steps.

Keep a calm spirit and a clear eye to see things as they really are and you'll be most effective in changing things for the better.