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  • Torbjörn Strand

You can only be free by truly giving up

I have something to confess. I'm a real junkie. That's right, you hear me. A real JUNKIE. And it's propably something I have known for a long time, but I haven't really wanted to acknowledge it. Or maybe it's more like, it hasn't gone away by itself, so that makes me want to do something about it. What I'm addicted to is something that's never-ending and constantly around us. That thing is INFORMATION, and I can't seem to get enough of it, nor stay away from it.


I'm starting this off in perhaps a funny way. But this information tanking (=filling myself up) is by no means negligible anymore, since it doesn't serve me. I have managed for a long, long time with this behavior, the real consequences are starting to show up. It seems I arrange my weekly and daily calendar around this never-ending carousel of saving up things to go through and then going through the them at certain points during my week. I came to the point where I was always keeping up with cleaning up spaces, in order to not fall behind and have even more to go through, when I actually was supposed to have time of.





I'm sharing this, because I have finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel, I see that I have the power to do something about it. I now stand at the crossroads, I can choose either path A or path B. The continuous cleaning and deleting doesn't serve me anymore, it just pours gas on the fire. This was not the life I had planned for, and it needs to change.

So, let's see what it is that I'm actually doing, because what I have written until now, means different to different people. I'll try to explain it. I have created a system where I'm constantly going through material, papers, magazines, bookmarks, etc. Both physical and digital material. It's not so much about current news, although, if I can get a hold of a physical copy of today's paper, I'll probably read it word for word. Well perhaps not that detailed, at least I would read much that is simply not necessary to read for me. This is not a problem anymore, because I don't like the digital version and working from home I don't get a hold of the physical copy. Instead, I sometimes ask my partner if something cool has happened, and she most often says, no, not really. So that's also a good solution to that problem.


So okay, back to the system I have created. A system that I'm now learning to adapt to and to not fall into its addictive callings. I've had a long list of bookmarks that I now and then go through, and once a link ends up in the bookmarks, the rule was that I had to go through it. Then I have a couple of email addresses, the main one had constantly around 300 unread mails, mails that I just couldn't delete without reading. I had a rule one time that 100 was the limit, I had to keep it under that. Then when other things were more important, the unread mails grew more and more. Keep in mind that I continually worked on the mails, for some 500 might be normal, or 1000 or even 10 000. This is just my private mail, then there's job mail during office hours and all other duties. So much of my "free time" went to go through my private mail and bookmarks, etc. Then there's also physical magazines and books that I like to read. Books are better because I can't read a book in one day. All these other short things that I organize and delete kept me stuck in a rewarding system that gave me a sense of success and effectivity. Longer tasks were not as interesting.


What has changed this time around for me is that I'm reading the book the 4-hour workweek, and I can see the difference from being effective and looking busy compared to being productive. Doing a lot of stuff effectively is of no use, if you have a illusion of productivity. Doing things smart and doing right things, is more important than doing things right. I can see that simple fact more clearly now. I had an illusion of doing the right things, things that were important and productive for my business and self-development. Most of the content were really useful for me, but what's the use if I just go to the next thing after I have done the reflections about what I'm reading now, or simply just going through something, without doing the cognitive work around it.


The good sides with this kind of system is that I can do what I'm good at, organizing, taking in information, creating ideas, developing new things, etc. I'm very curious around certain fields and I have a high level of the Openness. This system really helps me remain in a state where I'm most effective, but effectivity is not what's wanted. The downside is that almost everything that caught my eyes becomes a priority, it's not about save or not, it's more about now or later? It seems like I rarely concluded that, this is not important and not urgent, so I'll skip it.


The good side is that I've got a wide and also deep understanding in certain areas, that others don't have. It feels like I'm soon to be an expert in my fields, I just have to choose the field and learn how to share my knowledge, and I know I'm not heading there with what I'm doing now. I want to make it simple and simplicity takes a lot of knowledge and practice to get it right.


So even though I have created this system myself, it became so familiar that I couldn't just get out of it when I wanted. I have tried many years actually and fallen back to it again. When my job positions got more demanding, as an otherwise normal development, I felt I couldn't keep up. There were moments where I was without a list or tasks to do, and then I was feeling super scared and vulnerable.


The thing is, my system keeps me safe and in control. One reason for the system is to create certainty in an uncertain world, I want to do things right, have control and able to handle every situation. One reason might be my father gave me unclear instructions when I was little and got furious when I didn't behave according to his wants, because I was uncertain and didn't have the capability to do the task, nor tell him that I wasn't capable or didn't understand. This led to a discomfort or fear mainly of being vulnerable, not knowing, uncertainty, being evaluated and judged. Having my system keeps me away from these feelings. It might also be so that I have a level of social anxiety, but then again, I have better days where I don't feel like that, it's not consistent. I haven't had my "social anxiety" investigated or treated by someone else, because I'm well-functioning, at least something is holding me back.


The reason I'm writing this now, is that it's time to let this system go, because I'm getting exhausted and fed up with it. Any behavior is basically fine, as long as it doesn't affect other parts of your life too much. I came to a point where I realized I can't keep going on like this, like for real. I've been there before, but now I stopped thinking of the next optimization tweak or new rule that could help me. Instead, I changed perspective, viewed myself from the outside and decided that I'm ready to start change my attitude to this system and to myself and my surroundings. What I'm doing on my free time also affects my working time, I can't be as effective at work If my cognitive workload is high in both areas. It's not only that I need variety, I need to give up certain things and embrace the super uncomfortable feelings that comes with it.


One definition of junkie is: a person who gets an unusual amount of pleasure from or has an unusual amount of interest in something. Which seems to be most people with a smart phone these days, everyone seems to be interested in that little thing. The phone in itself is not dangerous, but small steps and reinforced habits on a daily basis may lead to a situation that you can't get out of, a catastrophic situation in my opinion. I'm mostly using the computer for upholding my system, still my phone takes up a lot of my focus. The interest for information and new things is still there, I have decided to use my interest in another way, because the path I was going on didn't lead me to the right destination. Life is a continuous journey; I want to enjoy the ride much more and do more of the things I really love.


I have been planning to write this text since start of April 2022 Much have happened after that. I managed to go through all my mails on my main email address, so now I can easily delete or read all mails in one day. I have also unregistered from high frequency senders. I've read the books Atomic Habits, the Compound Effect and now the 4 Hour Work Week, and they are doing wonders. I have to make sure I don't go too fast, go back and do the homework, create systems and reflect on what I'm actually doing. What has worked this far is documenting my habits, habit stacking and seeing the difference of productivity and effectivity and to "be busy" really mind-blowing stuff. It takes a while to implement.


What I really want to do is make the world better, and I want to share my view on things, with the knowledge and areas of interest I have. Because you can study a phenomenon from many different angles, and they might all be valid. This is one thing I value, the acceptance of different views, certain popular areas and movements doesn't accept differing views, only one way is accepted. This is something I'm really aversive against.


I'm into disruptors, people that stand for what they believe in, even if that's something that the majority or "society" doesn't approve of. These people can make so much more development than many else. If you think that everyone should be like you want, I would say "dream on". I see it as impossible to tell everyone to be their own unique self, and at the same time expect that everyone will be to your liking. Some will interpret this opportunity in a way that you deem reprehensible, you can't have both as I see it.


So I'll keep share about what's on my mind, what I like about this world and life, it's mostly fascinating stuff. Sometimes I might share things that are not to others liking. As long as I'm aware of my values, that I keep them in mind and that I come from a place if authenticity, I will be fine. That also means that I have to give up my strong attachment to science, studies and evidence-based stuff, because that often makes a person show up detached from oneself, and I have been showing up a lot like that. Being detached makes it difficult if not impossible to connect with a person.


If you're reading this and it resonates with you, feel free to get in touch with me or comment and share. Thanks, I'm ready to share it with others.

I'll end with a part of this e-mail I got from ResqueTime at the same day time I was writing this text. Seems like there are a lot of others battling with the same things as I am:


"If you can't change it, change the way you think about it."
-Mary Engelbreit

When you’re overwhelmed, everything feels faster. Everything feels heavier. Unimportant things feel vital. And important things now feel like the end of the world.

We’ve all been there, and sometimes, it’s a legitimate feeling. Stressors are real. The stakes can be high, and our lives and jobs can hang in the balance. But if the overwhelmed feeling has become a constant companion, I would guess something was not adding up. Feeling that way every day is not sustainable. Grey hairs are supposed to come naturally, not prematurely.

If you’re a freelancer, and are always balancing multiple clients, you likely know how quickly this kind of feeling can sneak up on you. At first it’s almost kind of fun–balancing priorities, doing a couple hours of work for one project, then switching over to another. Maybe it even gives you a little bit of an adrenaline rush. But, the crash inevitably comes. All your tasks becomes too important, and all the deadlines land on the same day. Your vision gets narrow and things get scary. I’ve been there.

Those moments are real, and we’ve all felt them.

But there's something we can do about these feelings, and it starts inside.


Thank you, I wish you all the best!


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