The Power Of Neglect
Wot? Neglect powerful? Yes!
Neglect is a word that is often (okay, always, and obviously so) thought of as negative. This is because, well, it is defined in negative terms, the “failure” to take care of something (I saved you a quick Google™-define-me-a-word-I-already-know). While I won’t argue that neglect is indeed negative on the whole, I will point out that one can be strategic about what one neglect’s and when. And while there are the four types of neglect: physical, emotional, educational, medical, I say there is a fifth neglect: Strategic.
Strategic Neglect by way of real-life examples from yours truly:
- I am a big reader, but lately I have been neglecting my books so I can spend more time learning to code.
- I have recently begun to neglect my smartphone, and therefore the news and social media, so I can spend time drawing cartoons with my daughter.
- I have been neglecting late-night television so I can get to sleep early.
- I will neglect tidying and cleaning away clutter during the day so I can use my brain energy for coding. I tend to those things later in the day when I’m winding down and my brain is spent (I don’t live like an animal, you know! Well . . .).
I will now deep-dive more into these examples to bring out my point in a more thorough medium-worthy manner; and to do so in a most wordy manner I would have to start with my neglect of books.
Without making you go through any of my other posts I admit I am a huge book reader (not so much fan oddly enough). So much so that I had to make a new years resolution to reduce the amount of reading I was doing. You see, it was taking over all of my free time and causing me to neglect the things that I really ought to be working on. It took many days of wrestling with the idea of reading less and caring less about books to get the point where I am today when I can say I am now able to put a book down and neglect it most maliciously so I can work on building a skill.
For you it may be learning to neglect your video games, or your movies, or your alcohol, your friends (if they dominate your time to the extent you can’t work on yourself), maybe your room and kitchen for a bit so you can get important work done. No matter what it is you need to neglect (and it can be anything because I said so), it must be done in a timely manner. There must be a reason behind the neglect (I am neglecting X so I can do Y instead).
But wait, aren’t I just using basic time management skills? Nonsense! There is a reason why I choose the word neglect. The reason is because you must stop caring for the thing that normally takes your time. It’s not that I simply thought to myself, “Meh, I don’t need to read right now, I should be coding.” and then went ahead and did so. Nay! Instead I fought with myself and argued over and over why books are good for the soul and mind, why I can’t simply put them away. I had to convince myself what a fool I was for reading so much and putting off basic career enhancement skills. I had to learn to hate the book, and thereby eventually come to a place of not caring for them.
It took weeks, but I was finally able to stop caring so much about reading. What this means in practice is when I now sit down to code I don’t have a nagging feeling in my mind that what I really want to be doing is reading. I can now say I no longer feel that way. Instead, my mind is now able to calm itself and focus on the code. I have also discovered that I am now able to focus on drawing with my kid, talking with my spouse, cooking a nice meal, and many other things without having the nagging thought of “should. be. reading. now.”
It’s easy, really. Figure out the thing that nags you when you are doing other things. If some thing that you like to do is telling you to stop when your being productive then that’s the thing you need to work on learning to neglect. You must learn to hate your video game, hate your smartphone, hate your favorite social media website so you can put them aside without trouble.