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Friction (4): mental overhead and nameless dread

Mental Overhead

Another type of friction we experience is from the ongoing mental overhead of having too many balls in the air. Unfinished projects, unanswered emails, half-read books, unresolved decisions – all take a sliver of attention and emotional energy. This constant mental overhead acts a drag on our attention. reducing our ability to concentrate and – especially when we’re tired – making us feel overwhelmed and unable to decide.

Nameless dread

Nameless dread is the emotional friction that comes with excessive mental overhead. it’s the lurking fear that we’re failing, letting people down, about to drown in jobs undone. It’s often a product of excessive mental overhead, or at least of the same root cause: too much on our plates, falling behind, living in fear that we’re about to be found out.

Things that help with managing mental overhead and nameless dread

  • Keepy uppies and little jobs can help you with feeling on the ball.
  • Some kind of amazing to-do list system might capture everything, but I’m still waiting for something that works consistently for me… look out for a post from Sharky on the latest in workflow management.
  • Talking about things really helps with nameless dread – either with teammates (who might even work some kind of miracle to help you out) or friends who’ll hopefully help by giving you some perspective.
  • Hire someone to do some of the routine stuff – at work or at home.
  • A bit physical danger helps to put most of our fears in perspective: ‘worst possible outcome’ of the things that we dread rarely involve injury, death or dismemberment. Try contact, motor or extreme sports.
  • See Tim Ferriss on Fear Setting
  • Good old fashioned getting things done – finishing things off, tying up loose ends, drawing lines under things (writing things off if necessary) helps a lot too.
  • Try this breakfast recipe.
  • When in doubt, exercise more and avoid eating crap.
  • Work out what you think you can do – and commit to doing 20% less. Allow slack in your system.
  • Pause and seek peace. Pray.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...