TASK #36: PERSON TO PERSON
“Hell is other people”. Jean-Paul Sartre
I couldn’t really understand my life until I started to break it down piece by piece. If you’ve read my tasks before, I have meticulously cataloged, quantified, listed and itemized every aspect of my life–i.e. what I eat, and what I’m worth, and how I spend my time. It may seem ridiculous to you, even nutty, but it’s helped me feel in control of my life.
Well, I was at it again this week. I wanted to know with WHOM I was spending my time, and why…
It wasn’t difficult, of course. I’m not a world traveler, or in a job that puts me in contact with a lot of people, so the circle of people that I have contact with during an average week isn’t a whole hell of a lot. Basically, it’s family, people at work, friends and strangers (by strangers, I mean people that I interact with but I don’t know their names (like the guy making my sandwich at Jersey Mikes), or I only know their names for a short time (like the fat ass plumber named Ron who was in my house for a couple of hours), or I know their names but that’s really all I know about them (like the security guard at work. His name is Raul and I say “hi Raul” when I see him, but I don’t know what he does when he’s not at work and given the black eye he came to work with the other day, I don’t want to…)
So I decided to take a closer look at my interactions. What I found out surprised me, and I made some decisions about my life based on the lists I put together.
I made three columns in my notebook. One was headed: CASUAL INTERACTIONS, the next: NECESSARY INTERACTIONS, then INTERACTIONS WITH EVERYONE ELSE. People, like family, who were important to me, went under NECESSARY, along with a couple of friends; under CASUAL went most of my friends and co-workers, and under EVERYONE ELSE went everyone else. I discovered a lot…I can share my thoughts with you if you send me an e-mail, but the gist of it was this: I was spending way too much time with people that didn’t mean anything to me, and that time was essentially wasted.
Grab your notebook and do what I did–make the columns and list EVERYBODY, no matter what, that you interact with during a week. There are nuances of course. A wife may be a necessary interaction, or casual interaction, depending…and visa-versa for a co-worker. He/she may be a casual interaction that’s become a necessary one…
But you get the picture. Next, look at the people you’ve listed. Look for the interactions that can be eliminated. Start another column: UNNECESSARY. Put those people under it and figure out a way not to have any interactions with them at all. You don’t need to waste one minute of your life interacting with people that you don’t like, or just don’t care about. If the number one person on that list is say, the plumber, then get a new plumber. And if it’s your boss, then you should start thinking about getting another job.
Photo courtesy of the author