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I tend to be emotionally attached to things I do. It's bad because it costs me more to achieve my goals. Let me explain:

  1. When I read a book of which I love the cover and typography or the starting chapters, or for which I heard lots of good reviews, I would try to read and digest 100% of that book even when 80% of the content isn't quite helpful in achieving my goal. / Or when I realize the book doesn't come up to the hype after reading 30% of it, I feel obliged to finish it because otherwise it would not be a whole.

  2. When I use an IDE to develop software which I have fallen in love with because it's a breeze to use and everything seems right there it is when I need them, suddenly something trivial breaks and I can't help it but have to spend hours looking for solution to fix it which isn't that important at all.

  3. When my current projects are making money and I want to make them the best in the world by over-thinking too much in detail, refactoring my code over and over again without actually delivering any improvements for months. I could have made more with continuously minor deliveries.

  4. When I'm emotionally attached with a site design of mine, I will very probably not change it even when customers complain about it.

  5. When I have a bigger plan for a simple feature that my customers voted down, I feel obliged to fulfill the plan by spending more time on the feature, which is essentially wasted.

  6. When my desk is a mess I would probably not give it too much attention but when it is cleaned up, tidy and well organized, god I become attached to it and I swear I would do everything I can to keep it that way forever! Effectively costing me half an hour or more every day - probably much more because I spare my attention to it every once in a while.

Basically, it's not an objective-oriented mindset but indulgence in one's obsession; obsessions that are costing much more than are producing, and that are negating my efforts in achieving my goals.

It's not easy to get out of the obsession / attachment while trapped in it. You feel it necessary and required for the goal while it actually IS NOT.

This is preventing me from achieving great things because I'm holding dear of too much that is no more than just dispensable in my life. I'm afraid to lose them. Is this greed? Greed to do (own) it all, do (own) it best? Or is it simply a psychological issue?

I think the great people are great because they are free to give up or abandon things when they need to since they are not emotionally / psychologically attached to them. They move from one thing to another at will, designing and creating with whatever that comes handy, without falling attached to any of them. Their minds are truly free. They are not bound to materials, substantial or notional. Napoleon, Tesla, Elon Musk, da Vinci, Franklin, the list goes on and on.

Too often I feel attached to (slaved by) the things I own, the things I know, the things I did, and the things I treasure that I cannot give up but keep devoting in fulfilling or maintaining them.

How can I not?

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Just a side note, as I was incidentally reading about Buddhism: All beings experience suffering. Suffering is caused by thirst, or craving for things and not getting them. Craving is caused by ignorance of true nature of things. Way to end suffering is knowledge that all things are temporary and should not be craved for. Seriously, I need an answer for that, too. – Orc JMR Feb 22 '14 at 16:57
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I personally apply to every task in my to-do list a priority. Of course, I try to avoid the mistake of flagging everything as high priority or important, this would be the more difficult step. Once you've mastered the leverage of your tasks, everything will follow in a smooth way.

Another good thing to do is to simplify as much as possible your to-do list. It is easy to spend the day adding to-dos without thinking if they are really important or relevant for the work/activities we do.

Finally, try to avoid the multitasking symptom. As soon as you start with a task, focus on it and do not take other tasks, even if they seem simple to achieve. Focus on one thing at a time.

I recommend you reading some tips that helped me here, hope it helps!

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The simplest solution I found is to create a must-do list.

I find myself obsessing quite often about things which have little importance in the grand scheme of things. I can usually tell when this starts to happen as I get super excited and time starts to fly by really, really fast. As soon as this feeling hits me I stop and put the desired task on my want-to-do list.

As part of everyday at work I have items that need to get done which are on my must-do list. How I keep myself motivated at work is only doing work related items on my want-to-do list until after all must-do items are finished. (I apply this to other aspects of my life as well).

Occasional obsession is healthy (at least I hope so or I am in trouble). But if obsession is pervasive and consuming most of your life (such as an obsessive compulsive disorder), I would suggest seeking professional help as this is something that a few tips and tricks may not be able to solve.

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In terms of the way people look at things, we all have a preference between concrete / detailed / focused stuff vs ideas, concepts, possibilities... Same for decisions, we all have a preference between a rational / objective approach vs. passionate / subjective approach (my source here is the MBTI, a personality indicator). So, don't be too harsh on yourself for being passionate and creative (if I decript the above correctly), this is a real strength that will lead you to excel and be outstanding at anything you love. And the good news is:

  • we can all develop our ability for the other preference (in your case having a more rational approach)

  • you have already identified that you want to balance your approach.

So now according to me, it just means you have to find the right resource to help you develop a rational thinking process when you are making decision. It can either be:

1) A course, for exemple

2) Or identify someone close to you who has the opposite preference (someone who is all about having a logical / rational approach, fairness, detached - it shouldn't be too difficult, half of the world is having this preference ;) and the other half has yours) and making it your peer you can discuss with when you feel you are on the wrong track to help you see things the other way around.

Hope this will help! Good luck.

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First, let me preface my answer by saying that if a psychological problem is persistently disrupting your normal, productive, day-to-day quality of life, you should consult a physician, psychologist, or therapist in order to identify and solve the problem. I only say this because some the problems you've described roughly resemble the characteristics of OCD. Although I do know someone with OCD, I'm not a medical professional, so I can only go as far as using the word "resembles" in this context and simply offering that suggestion.

Second, I would try using a Franklin Covey Planner. I got one for Christmas and it has changed my life appreciably. If you buy the kit, the planner will have you identify your values, your long term goals, and short term goals, and it will take you through all the steps to organizing your time. I might add that the 2-pages-per-day format is excellent because you have a large notes section in addition to a to-do list for each day. I find that the thing that makes it work is that if you actually spend some money on a good product, I'll actually stick with it and use it, whereas I probably wouldn't stick with something that was cheap.

If you'd like a trial of the FCP, you can print the 31-day sample planner, which includes the planning/values steps that I mentioned previously.

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