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Completionism is a Disease

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
1 min read

I admit it, I am a completionist. I read every tweet in my Twitter feed. I read every blog headline in my RSS reader. I listen to every episode of my favorite podcasts and at least read through the notes of the podcasts I half-like in case there's something really cool to hear.

All of this robs me of time and attention.

Sure, some of it adds value. But is the cost worth it?

Some alternatives to consider, if you have the same disease:

  • Twitter still allows you to arrange your feed in lists (for now). I created a list of my "must reads" which means even after hours (or a full day) of neglect, I can catch up with my absolute favorite Twitterers in just a dozen tweets or so, instead of hundreds, cutting my reading time from 15-30 minutes down to 1 minute.
  • I can eliminate RSS from my blog reading all together. Dave Pell did this and his profession is reading news (he publishes the ultra-popular newsletter NextDraft). Dave now reads his news going site-to-site, taking in design as a part of the character and content of the site. He doesn't have an inbox of headlines waiting for him and he experiences the good and bad of web just like his readers would after clicking a link in his newsletter. This is what everyone used to do. Remember the joy of just "surfing the web?" Better to experience joy than another inbox.
  • With podcasts, I have started eliminating the ones I like (and don't LOVE). If I run out of podcasts to listen to, I can fish through those feeds for the gems. But for now, there must be cuts. Some love Huffduffer for the ability to do away with subscribing entirely and just feed individual podcasts to your favorite app. Others like the app Castro, which allows you to triage your episodes and download only the best of the best.
  • Let go. You don't need to complete any of this.

That last one is the most honest, clear and simple lesson. That's why it's the hardest to implement and least likely to occur.