When a problem is presented to me, I typically make a quick determination if needs my personal attention or not. Despite what others may desire of me, I generally let a majority of problems sit for a bit. If the issue does not arise again then I have saved myself from wasting time.
I like the approach David takes with using sticky notes. My fear with sticky notes has been that I would lose one, but that could a non-issue if I assume that most problems never have to be solved and problems that do need to be solved will have multiple contacts points.
Every few days I process these little notes, which means I look at what I’ve written and decide what to do about it. Sometimes I neglect this duty for a while, and end up with a week’s worth (or two) of sticky notes.
I end up throwing most of them right into the recycling bin, because when it comes time to look at it, the thing I wrote down is no longer relevant, or I’ve already done it, or I don’t feel like anything has to be done about it.
Your mind tells you there is a problem whenever it detects a somewhat possible unpleasant future experience, which it can do all day, and it happily will if you don’t call its bluff. Of course there’s an infinite supply of potential disasters. These are just thoughts, but they seem like realities, and any one of them can create an emotional pitfall now no matter what actually happens later.
Each of these apparent problems represents itself as something you will have to act on at some point. Ninety per cent of the time, this is a lie. Thoughts are like little politicians; experts at rhetoric, sensationalism self-preservation, unlimited in number, mostly just noisy and useless but occasionally make important things happen.
The genius, perhaps, of David’s article is he calls out the fact that most “problems” aren’t actually problems for anyone vice not being my problem.