Pile of papers
Year of Liveability

Intentionally managing ideas

Ideas should have use-by dates, shouldn't they?

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No matter the best of intentions, it slips into chaos, again.  And when I wrote that sentence, the reason for this unwanted outcome landed with a delicate thud somewhere in the right side of my brain, somewhere, halfway maybe, along the diagonal from ear to crown.  Such an odd spot for an answer to land.

The answer, you ask?  I’m living with multiple, and at times conflicting, intentions.  They just won’t work cooperatively together.

Intention A:  Desktop will be tidy and easy to dust.

Intention B:  I’m going to read that article and pick out all the useful information because (insert purposeful reason here), but later.

You can probably see how Intention B is likely to spit in the eye of Intention A.  I’m picturing camel spit as the quality of the metaphor, though I’ve never seen a camel spit in the flesh, so I’m imagining how large and gooey it might be.

The articles pile up.

I’ve even tried dedicating a beautiful box as a way of containing and controlling them.  The top of the box is easy to dust.  That should work.  Shouldn’t it?

The articles pile up on top of the box.  If I put them inside, I’ll probably forget.

Managing Ideas

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Now, here’s a classic set of competing intentions that, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about.

Intention C:  Fridge will be tidy and organised.

Intention D:  Don’t waste food.

So why do I have a comparatively well maintained fridge when I clearly can’t manage competing intentions in other areas?

Answer 1:  Use by dates.  If food is not used, it has to be thrown on the compost heap; ideas do not.  Ideas are more likely to be considered potentially useful long after they actually are.

Answer 2:  I rarely overstock the fridge because of a reluctance to poison myself.  In contrast, ideas just spill out and crop up … everything is interesting.  Is it even possible to say No to a fascinating new piece of information, a new way of expressing something, or a great tip that promises to make life a little rosier than it might have otherwise been?  They really are like chocolate.

Perhaps I need a system that allocates use by dates to interesting information.  Something like … “If I haven’t established the worth of this by (insert date), it gets recycled.”

I wonder?

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