Greg Hewgill (ghewgill) wrote,
Greg Hewgill

mental debt

I just noticed that I have at least one tab open in Firefox that has been open for at least a year (I can tell because of the content on the page). Of course Firefox persists tabs over a restart, so it's not as if my laptop has been running continuously for a year. However, every time I do restart Firefox, all the tabs I had open get reloaded which takes the better part of a minute. And, it always takes a few seconds to scroll left or right through my open tabs to find one that I'm looking for.

Let's have a quick look at what I currently have open:

  • Livejournal friends page
  • todo list (2 tabs)
  • 2 tabs relating to a possible redesign of
  • 2 tabs pointing to silly quotes submitted to QDB
  • gmail inbox
  • an Apple support page that I was going to suggest an improvement for, but they've already changed it recently (I guess I can close that)
  • 2 tabs open to the PLY documentation
  • Wikipedia database dump status for enwiki (projected completion in November 2009!)
  • graphs from some Wikipedia statistics I was working on last year
  • Wikipedia watchlist
  • the S3tools documentation
  • Stack Overflow (3 tabs)
  • a graph of my inbox volume over time
  • ScrapBook firefox extension, which seemed useful at the time but I don't think I ever installed
  • Amazon S3 developer documentation (2 tabs)
  • mod_wsgi documentation
  • documentation
  • a page about CSS min-height and how to work around related browser bugs
  • wikipedia blame output
  • work in progress on The Loop Knittery website (5 tabs)
  • Python doctest module documentation
  • various Lisp, Scheme, and Arc reference pages (13 tabs!)
  • two pages related to continuous colouring of Mandelbrot set images
  • Creative Freedom Foundation, wherein we try to stop the implementation of guit-upon-accusation in New Zealand
  • Project Euler problems page
  • 4 tabs dealing with DNS changes related to the shutdown of free services from (which I'm working on today)

I am reminded of a quote I read once that went something like, "To move forward, sometimes you need to close some doors." The idea is that the mental burden of not making a decision takes a little bit more energy every time you think about that decision in the future. It's like accumulating mental debt: Failure to spend the small amount of energy to make a decision now causes you to pay interest on that debt in the future.

Relating to my above situation, every time I Ctrl+Tab through my Firefox tabs and see stuff that I've looked at in the past but don't know what to do with, I feel a little bit more behind in my life. I started 2009 thinking that I'd catch up on some of the pending projects I had going, but for the last three weeks have felt like I've been lagging behind. I find myself thinking "I can't do [x] because I'm so busy" but it's probably just the mental debt of having not made all those decisions about little things in the past that keep popping up in front of me.

This principle also applies to my inbox, where I currently have 2858 messages, 2492 of which I have already read at least once. I have some decisions to make.


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