Konubinix' opinionated web of thoughts

Feel Confident Not Doing What You Are Not Doing


  • External reference:

See also procrastination, say yes to something is saying no to something else.

A recurring phrase in gtd.

I think it means that you build the trusted system so that your brain can relax, because it knows something has captured the task, project commitments… anything that generally produces cognitive load.

Then, you decide to do something, you take a look at the system to realise how you feel not doing what is in here. If you feel confident, then do it. If you know that the stuff in your system are more important, you should hear that voice that says « this is actually more important » and decide to do it instead.

If you think you have forgotten what is important, take a look at your horizons of focus.

Feeling confident does not mean feeling well about it. You can feel bad about your situation, while still feeding confident that it was the best move you could take.

To me, this principle it universal and does not depend on whatever practical philosophy school you follow (stoicism or whatever). I don’t see any situation where feeling confident not doing what you are not doing is not the best move. Yet, it assumes some level of dichotomy of control. Otherwise, chances are you will most of the time feel bad about not doing stuff you cannot actually do (illusion of control).

Even when you are planning to fail and when interruptions cause a great anxiety, if you feel confident dealing with the interruption and you feel bad about it, you most likely feel the least bad you could.1

why not saying feel confident doing what you are doing then?

In my opinion, feeling confident not doing what you are not doing is a way to emphasis that you are looking for a pareto front. You don’t look for THE good next action, and most likely there is no single good next action (there is no silver bullet, choosing one of those next actions is making a compromise). Instead, there are likely several pareto dominated next actions that you need to feel confident not doing.

metaphor of the puzzle

Imagine that our horizons of focus are a big puzzle that you assemble piece after piece.

When guessing what is the next piece to put in the puzzle, it is as if you had a frame that showed only a small part of the puzzle. This is the ideas that come to mind effortlessly. This frame is biased by what had your attention before (wysiati).

If you simply pick one of them, chances are that you realize that you could try to add some more important pieces first. Then you will think about whether this was a good choice and won’t be able to focus at 100%.

The trusted system helps you enlarge this frame to get a look at the whole puzzle and make a strategic decision on where to focus your attention next. Knowing that you did your best to be conscious on the pieces that you won’t be focusing next, you can more comfortably be focused at 100% on the piece of puzzle at hand right now.

Notes linking here

  1. you could try using dichotomy of control and decide not to feel bad about it, but that is another discussion,