Why I Sweat the Small Stuff

Jason Little
Nov 9, 2014 · 3 min read

A while back I was at a birthday party for a friend and many of the kids there were running around with iPods and tablets and such.

One of the party-goers, who I didn’t know, felt the need to say: “Glorified babysitters, I see parents giving those things to their kids all the time instead of talking to them. We didn’t those things when I was growing up, they’re making it impossible for kids to think for themselves.

And to my surprise, she didn’t have kids. Shocking.

So system 1 in my brain replied with: “well, my kids are learning programming with this game, my son is learning french with this app and our school has math and reading programs that the kids can do at home. And yes, after a day of working with adults that act like kids in companies and dealing with ‘daaad, I’m hungry!!! Owen is bugging me!!!!’, you’re damn right I use them as a babysitter sometimes.

Me 1. Uniformed and clueless, bitter person: 0

iPads as babysitters” is the new “I had to walk 3 miles in snow, uphill both ways, just to get to school!

And it doesn’t stop there, in the book The Organized Mind, the author describes that back in our early caveman days, early humans had to make a few simple distinctions. Can I eat that? Can I not eat that? Will that eat me? It was pretty simple for caveman brains to categorize “stuff I can eat”, “stuff I can’t eat” and “stuff that eats me” because there wasn’t much else to do.

Then writing was invented (10's of thousands of years later) for the purposes of record keeping and the sentiment was the same: “this is bad for our brains! People won’t need to think anymore!

Today, the small stuff matters…because there is SO MUCH OF IT!

Cavemen had to deal with sorting out what to eat, my parents had to walk uphill in snow, and in two directions but today, things are much different.

Technology has made some things easier, like not having to remember 185 passwords for me, my wife and my kids, and technology has made some things harder, like dealing with 11 companies who all handle pre-authorized payments a bit differently when your credit card number on file expires.

Before the internet, it used to be exciting to go to the mailbox once a day and hope that the newest Megadeth cassette would be delivered as part of my Columbia House music subscription.

Today we all ‘go to the mailbox’ hundreds of time each day, and a lot of those times somebody is asking for something. Update this, buy this product, pick up your daughter here tonight, someone replied to your comment on a Linked In forum and they’re clearly wrong, someone needs you to help them move…

Update: And as soon I hit publish my 10 year wants help installing a Minecraft mod and help finding a midi file of Minecraft music so he can learn it through Synthesia, which is an app on my babysitt…er iPad.

Not ‘sweating the small stuff’ all but ensures you’ll be deferring dealing with these things. I sweat figure out how to keep up with all the small stuff because if I didn’t worry about it, I’d probably be living in the street by now.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the small stuff and these are a couple of posts I’ve found helpful to help me sweat how to deal with it all:

The 4 Why’s: http://www.noop.nl/2014/11/the-four-whys.html

Personal Kanban: http://www.personalkanban.com/pk/

GTD: http://gettingthingsdone.com/

Sometimes I’m disciplined, sometimes I’m not but I know if I don’t worry about how to manage the small stuff more effectively, I’ll go insane.

    Jason Little

    Written by

    Author of Lean Change Management ( www.leanchange.org ), bridging the gap between Agile, OD and CM. Introvert, dad and drummer. And minecrafter.