Using defaults to manage anxiety
A few weeks ago I gave a talk at Digital Croydon called ‘The Developer Mindset’. The talk details some of the engineering principles I have adopted for my day to day life as part of managing the transition towards independence.
The talk discuses a few things such as spoons and avoiding burnout. But I have written about that before. So for this post, I want to focus on a different topic. This post is all about ‘defaults’.
Default all the things.
I have a timetable and I like to follow it. I don’t follow it perfectly unless I am specifically quite anxious and seeking structure.
My timetable provides me with a default. I can choose to follow the default or go with something else.
Knowing the default is there gives me the structure I need to reduce the anxiety. While also giving me some flexibility.
For example, I can choose to avoid a shower in the morning because I had a shower the night before.
Or I can choose to go for something different for dinner knowing that the default is in the freezer waiting for me.
It’s a simple concept but I have found it to be very useful.
To put a development spin on it; effectively I have just decided on some sensible defaults for my ‘life’ API.
The default covers me for when I don’t know what to do or don’t have the energy or interest to make a comfortable decision.
In the past, departing from my timetable gave me a sense of falling into chaos and with it a surge in anxiety.
These days, I choose to treat my timetable as a defaults mechanism. It’s there when I need it or want it. But it’s just the default, if I think I can do better I am free to do so.