Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should: Squashing Gigaguilt

I’ve been reading CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD by Edward R. Hallowell.  The author coined the term Gigaguilt.  Initially, I figured that Gigaguilt was feeling regretful that I didn’t buy the 64 GB iPod and defaulted to the 16 GB iPod.  Like gigabite envy; it’s not.

It’s about the guilt associated with having access to so much information that you know that you are missing that 5k race for domestic violence victims, and the compensation conference in Tampa, and that comedian you’d love to see, or your son’s wrestling match that falls on the same night as your WordPress Meetup. girl_staring_at_mountains

Life was so much simpler when we didn’t get Facebook invitations to fundraisers for every charity under the sun.  They are all so deserving but how do you choose once the flood gates of information or connectedness open up?  There is this constant struggle between priorities in your life.  Some of which, up until about 5 years ago, weren’t even on your radar.  If you feel like you are overcommitted and are still beating yourself up that you forgot about the parents meeting at your child’s school, have 6 unanswered meeting requests in your inbox and your mother is exasperated that you haven’t returned her call –  You are suffering from Gigaguilt.

Here are some practical tips on how to squash the gigaguilt:

1. Timer.  Put a timer on when it comes to social media.  Spend 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.  Check in, and do what you are there for.  Check your daughter’s page, your college group feed and wish everyone happy birthday, and Get OFF.  Out of sight, out of mind.

2. Select.  Be selective with your notifications, lists and resources.  I am on several lists.  I get several daily, weekly and monthly newsletters, articles and posts.  If I decide it’s not serving me after a few weeks or months.  I drop it.  If something new comes on the horizon, I sign up and see if there is a benefit.  If not?  I drop it.  You are going to need to draw the line.  If you are never going to be a painter or lawyer or PhD candidate, get off the list.  If you aspire to learn how to play guitar, be a better public speaker or want some leadership advice, sign up and take a test drive.  Just be willing to pull the plug if it’s not serving you.  Clutter produces drag.

3. Slack. As in cut yourself some slack.  It’s OK to not sign up for every 5k within a 20 mile radius of your home.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Don’t head down the self judgment trail.  You don’t need to be the perfect________(fill in the blank).  My son ran in the state track meet last year and I wasn’t there to see it.  I saw the video.  I’m still a great parent.  No judgment.  I didn’t get to run a 10k in April.  I’ll try it next year.  I’m still a runner…er jogger.  I didn’t get to go to the charity event I’ve attended for the last 9 years.  It’s still a great cause and I am still a generous person.  Remember:  No one is keeping tabs except you.  Judge yourself exemplary.

4. Expectations. Lay the ground work with those who are important in your life.  Tell your boss that you won’t be able to work Thursday afternoons during you son’s wrestling season.  Tell your mother that you don’t take phone calls during dinner.  Let your daughter know that you have a trip scheduled during her upcoming concert.  There is a lot less guilt and finger pointing if you lay out your expectations up front.

5. Present.  Be present.  If your partner is talking to you, stop looking at your iPhone, make eye contact and listen.  If you are on the phone with your friend, don’t look at email.  If your dog wants to be scratched, look her in the eyes and be with her in the moment.   If you are taking a walk, smell, listen and look at the sights around you.  You aren’t going to get this moment back.  Be there, in the moment, in every moment of your life.

I am by nature, an early adopter.  I will on impulse sign up for a Groupon that I’m not sure my husband is on board with.  I will sign up for the class that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to fit into my life.  I have learned to back off.  Take a breath.  Be selective and squash the gigaguilt.  Just be cause you can, doesn’t mean you should.

5 Strategies of Going With Your Gut (and Why You Should).

Hindsight is twenty twenty.  How many times have you said that? Why didn’t I…? I should have…? You know that you knew better, but you couldn’t put your finger on why you knew what you knew…but you knew it and you went the opposite direction.  And then you proceed to beat yourself up.  You needed to go with your gut.  But you ignored it.

Dr. Richard Restak has studied this and written about it in his book “The Naked Brain.”  Basically, the more you ponder, research, and weigh out your options, the less desirable the decision.  That is your rational brain at work.  On the other hand, your limbic brain, is your gut.  You can’t put your finger on why you don’t want to hire that guy, but your gut is telling you not to.  Listen to your limbic brain.

Going with your gut 2I’m sure you remember taking standardized tests in school.  Your teacher told you to go with your first impression – your gut.  When you start overthinking, you will likely make the wrong choice.  In fact, in studies on those who have lost use of their limbic brain (i.e. brain injury) and only have use of their rational brain, they cannot make a decision.  They are stuck in a rational loop of analysis paralysis.  They would never finish the test.

So how do you move from the rational loop to going with your gut?  Here are some suggestions:

1. Narrow. As in narrow your choices.  If you go to a grocery store and there are 15 choices of jams in a display versus 5 choices of jams, you are more likely to buy from the display with only 5 choices (Crazy huh? Tell me why there are 32 types of just one brand of toothpaste).  So if you are given the choice of 15, try and narrow your choices even if it might be somewhat arbitrary.  Like I’ll only look at red jams. This will help keep you out of analysis paralysis.

2. Authentic. If the choice is a hiring decision or choosing a client, you should look for whether what someone says matches their actions.  Frequently, it’s difficult to read if someone is being authentic or if they are really good at marketing themselves.  Studies have shown that people have micro facial expressions when they are covering something up. You are reading it subconsciously and aren’t sure why you don’t trust someone. If you can’t figure out what it is or give a concrete fact as to why you don’t want to hire them – go with you gut.  Listen to your subconscious because it’s reading the signs loud and clear.

3. Timer. Limit the time you spend on the choice or decision. If there is no reason why you have to delay the decision (like the college hasn’t accepted me or I don’t know if I got the funding), then set the timer. Limiting the window of time for you to weigh out the myriad of pros and cons will help you stay closer to your gut instead of letting the rational loop take over. If you are taking the SAT…you’re in luck, it’s a timed test! If you’re deciding on a new camera, give yourself 30 minutes to compare features, look at reviews, talk to your partner – then decide.

4. Irrational. Ignore the rational explanation. Crazy huh? Buried in your subconscious is all your life experiences, failures, and successes. Your brain is not going to be able to catalog and cross reference why you know that this guy is a bad hire, why those shoes are wrong for you, or why that bottle of Zinfandel is right.  I can remember, from my restaurant manager days, that when I was hiring a hostess, I gave him or her about 30 seconds to make a good impression. If there was an engaging smile and eye contact, it was a yes.  I went with my gut.

5. Heuristics. These are rules of thumb. It’s another way of limiting your choices. The world is overwhelming with the amount of information at our disposal…or rather immediate consumption and distraction. This does not mean you need to consume every piece of information available.  Use some rules of thumb.  I want a camera with the most megapixels for under $200. I’m looking for a forklift driver who is OSHA certified and has worked for a company with perishable products.  I’m looking for a training course that is on presentation skills, no more than two days long within a 5-hour drive for less that $1,500. It helps narrow the focus and limit the analysis as well.

For some of us, this is easy. We are comfortable going with our gut (for the record, I was always one of the first ones done when taking exams). Some of us struggle with giving up the analysis.  Start small.  Maybe the next time you get an ice cream cone, you narrow your choices to those with some kind of chocolate in it or only flavors that start with the letter R.   Go with your gut.

When did you listen to your gut?

Git ‘er done!

Have you ever –

  • Hemmed and hawed over a project?
  • Drug your feet on even starting?
  • Come up with 50 shoulda’s and kicked the can down the road?
  •  And down the road a little more?

Your lizard brain has taken over your prefrontal cortex with fear of failure and all you can do is hang out on facebook for hours or watch one more show on the Food Network.  Procrastination is gripping you and you can’t even see the first step, let alone the whole staircase.

I spent my Christmas vacation watching my son delay his college application process.  He spent hours on “Call of Duty” instead writing college essays.  This was a project he promised to start in August.  And suddenly it was December 28th and most of the deadlines were January 1st.  Now he was behind the eight ball and his sister and I (his editors) were not very empathetic.  Now with the pressure of the looming deadline, he had to git ‘er done!  He did get it done although it was painful for all of us.  Care for some ideas on getting over procrastination and moving projects to completion?

Here are some tips:

1. VacationZig Ziglar makes the case in his audio tapes called “How to Stay Motivated”, that we all seem to find time to get it all done on the day before vacation.  This really hit home with me.  Suddenly, you have your day scheduled out, know all your priorities, don’t waste a minute and are completely focused.  So, if you really want to take action, imagine that you are going on vacation and plan accordingly.

2. Three.  When the alarm goes off in the morning, plan three things you want to accomplish today.  Just three.  Not five.  Not ten.  Just three. (1) Go to the Y and work out. (2) Finish the financial aid submission.  (3) Finish 3 annual reviews.  There.  You have your day planned out.  As Stephen Covey would recommend, you have to schedule your “Big Rocks” (important non-urgent projects).  In doing so, the “gravel” (unimportant distractions i.e. facebook, twitter) will fall by the wayside.

3. Timer.  I do this for every blog post I write.  I give myself 30 minutes to write.  Anything.  Just write.  I don’t have to finish.  I just need to write.  After thirty minutes.  I’m done.  If I’m still inspired and on a roll, I keep going.  If not?  Go onto the next project.  I find this to be the best cure for procrastination.  It helps you side step perfection.  It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect.  You invested 30 minutes.  And you can invest another 30 minutes tomorrow.  At least you started.  Set a timer.

4. Appointment.  Many times we are collaborating with coworkers, team mates and bosses who are even better procrastinators than ourselves.  They create squishy deadlines or vague goals.  This can be like herding wet kittens.  Make a firm follow up date.  Make an appointment.  It might get moved.  But at least you are taking steps to keep the team or department on task.  Make an appointment to follow up and stay on task. eat an elephant one bit at a time 2

5. Chunks.  Big projects are really just a gathering of chunks.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  Break the project into chunks.  I can remember my daughter getting a book to study for the SAT’s.  It was a very thick book.  An overwhelming book.  I suggested that she take twenty pages a day.  We wrote on the calendar page numbers on each day.  We chopped up the elephant.  Chunks are much easier to digest.

6. Worst is first.  In “Eat that Frog” by Brian Tracy, he recommends starting with the worst task first (ergo eat that frog).  So if that happens to be exercise or reading an SAT prep book or writing annual reviews.  Go for it.  Forgo answering emails, chatting over coffee with your coworkers, or surfing pinterest.  Get out your fork and knife, and eat that frog.  The rest of the day will glide by with the worst of it behind you.  Tackle the worst first.

Procrastination can be debilitating.  Try just one or two of these suggestions.  You’d be surprised how starting a habit or two can change what you can accomplish.  Let’s reduce the frog and elephant population (no animals were harmed in this post) and git ‘er done!

Squashing Gigaguilt

I’ve been reading CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD by Edward R. Hallowell.  The author coined the term Gigaguilt.  Initially, I figured that Gigaguilt was feeling regretful that I didn’t buy the 64 GB iPod and defaulted to the 16 GB iPod.  Like gigabite envy; it’s not.

It’s about the guilt associated with having access to so much information that you know that you are missing that 5k race for domestic violence victims, and the compensation conference in Tampa, and that comedian you’d love to see, or your son’s wrestling match that falls on the same night as your WordPress Meetup.

Life was so much simpler when we didn’t get Facebook invitations to fundraisers for every charity under the sun.  They are all so deserving but how do you choose once the flood gates of information or connectedness open up?  There is this constant struggle between priorities in your life.  Some of which, up until about 5 years ago, weren’t even on your radar.  If you feel like you are overcommitted and are still beating yourself up that you forgot about the parents meeting at your child’s school, have 6 unanswered meeting requests in your inbox and your mother is exasperated that you haven’t returned her call –  You are suffering from Gigaguilt.

Here are some practical tips on how to squash the gigaguilt:

1. Timer.  Put a timer on when it comes to social media.  Spend 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.  Check in, and do what you are there for.  Check your daughter’s page, your college group feed and wish everyone happy birthday, and Get OFF.  Out of sight, out of mind.

2. Select.  Be selective with your notifications, lists and resources.  I am on several lists.  I get several daily, weekly and monthly newsletters, articles and posts.  If I decide it’s not serving me after a few weeks or months.  I drop it.  If something new comes on the horizon, I sign up and see if there is a benefit.  If not?  I drop it.  You are going to need to draw the line.  If you are never going to be a painter or lawyer or PhD candidate, get off the list.  If you aspire to learn how to play guitar, be a better public speaker or want some leadership advice, sign up and take a test drive.  Just be willing to pull the plug if it’s not serving you.  Clutter produces drag.

3. Slack. As in cut yourself some slack.  It’s OK to not sign up for every 5k within a 20 mile radius of your home.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Don’t head down the self judgment trail.  You don’t need to be the perfect________(fill in the blank).  My son ran in the state track meet last year and I wasn’t there to see it.  I saw the video.  I’m still a great parent.  No judgment.  I didn’t get to run a 10k in April.  I’ll try it next year.  I’m still a runner…er jogger.  I didn’t get to go to the charity event I’ve attended for the last 9 years.  It’s still a great cause and I am still a generous person.  Remember:  No one is keeping tabs except you.  Judge yourself exemplary.

4. Expectations. Lay the ground work with those who are important in your life.  Tell your boss that you won’t be able to work Thursday afternoons during you son’s wrestling season.  Tell your mother that you don’t take phone calls during dinner.  Let your daughter know that you have a trip scheduled during her upcoming concert.  There is a lot less guilt and finger pointing if you lay out your expectations up front.

5. Present.  Be present.  If your partner is talking to you, stop looking at your iPhone, make eye contact and listen.  If you are on the phone with your friend, don’t look at email.  If your dog wants to be scratched, look her in the eyes and be with her in the moment.   If you are taking a walk, smell, listen and look at the sights around you.  You aren’t going to get this moment back.  Be there, in the moment, in every moment of your life.

I am by nature, an early adopter.  I will on impulse sign up for a Groupon that I’m not sure my husband is on board with.  I will sign up for the class that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to fit into my life.  I have learned to back off.  Take a breath.  Be selective and squash the gigaguilt.  Just be cause you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Gut Whisperer

Hindsight is twenty twenty.  How many times have you said that? Why didn’t I…? I should have…? You know that you knew better, but you couldn’t put your finger on why you knew what you knew…but you knew it and you went the opposite direction.  And then you proceed to beat yourself up.  You needed to go with your gut.  But you ignored it.

Dr. Richard Restak has studied this and written about it in his book “The Naked Brain.”  Basically, the more you ponder, research, and weigh out your options, the less desirable the decision.  That is your rational brain at work.  On the other hand, your limbic brain, is your gut.  You can’t put your finger on why you don’t want to hire that guy, but your gut is telling you not to.  Listen to your limbic brain.

I’m sure you remember taking standardized tests in school.  Your teacher told you to go with your first impression – your gut.  When you start overthinking, you will likely make the wrong choice.  In fact, in studies on those who have lost use of their limbic brain (i.e. brain injury) and only have use of their rational brain, they cannot make a decision.  They are stuck in a rational loop of analysis paralysis.  They would never finish the test.

So how do you move from the rational loop to becoming a Gut Whisperer?  Here are some suggestions:

1. Narrow. As in narrow your choices.  If you go to a grocery store and there are 15 choices of jams in a display versus 5 choices of jams, you are more likely to buy from the display with only 5 choices (Crazy huh? Tell me why there are 32 types of just one brand of toothpaste).  So if you are given the choice of 15, try and narrow your choices even if it might be somewhat arbitrary.  Like I’ll only look at red jams. This will help keep you out of analysis paralysis.

2. Authentic. If the choice is a hiring decision or choosing a client, you should look for whether what someone says matches their actions.  Frequently, it’s difficult to read if someone is being authentic or if they are really good at marketing themselves.  Studies have shown that people have micro facial expressions when they are covering something up. You are reading it subconsciously and aren’t sure why you don’t trust someone. If you can’t figure out what it is or give a concrete fact as to why you don’t want to hire them – go with you gut.  Listen to your subconscious because it’s reading the signs loud and clear.

3. Timer. Limit the time you spend on the choice or decision. If there is no reason why you have to delay the decision (like the college hasn’t accepted me or I don’t know if I got the funding), then set the timer. Limiting the window of time for you to weigh out the myriad of pros and cons will help you stay closer to your gut instead of letting the rational loop take over. If you are taking the SAT…you’re in luck, it’s a timed test! If you’re deciding on a new camera, give yourself 30 minutes to compare features, look at reviews, talk to your partner – then decide.

4. Irrational. Ignore the rational explanation. Crazy huh? Buried in your subconscious is all your life experiences, failures, and successes. Your brain is not going to be able to catalog and cross reference why you know that this guy is a bad hire, why those shoes are wrong for you, or why that bottle of Zinfandel is right.  I can remember, from my restaurant manager days, that when I was hiring a hostess, I gave him or her about 30 seconds to make a good impression. If there was an engaging smile and eye contact, it was a yes.  I went with my gut.

5. Heuristics. These are rules of thumb. It’s another way of limiting your choices. The world is overwhelming with the amount of information at our disposal…or rather immediate consumption and distraction. This does not mean you need to consume every piece of information available.  Use some rules of thumb.  I want a camera with the most megapixels for under $200. I’m looking for a forklift driver who is OSHA certified and has worked for a company with perishable products.  I’m looking for a training course that is on presentation skills, no more than two days long within a 5-hour drive for less that $1,500. It helps narrow the focus and limit the analysis as well.

For some of us, this is easy. We are comfortable going with our gut (for the record, I was always one of the first ones done when taking exams). Some of us struggle with giving up the analysis.  Start small.  Maybe the next time you get an ice cream cone, you narrow your choices to those with some kind of chocolate in it or only flavors that start with the letter R.   Go with your gut.

What would you do?