Diffusing workday stress via #10m escape values

If you’re a professional knowledge worker you probably deal with a certain amount of on-the-job stress. It builds up and, periodically, you feel you need a break. That can involve a 10 minute jaunt on the Internet, your favorite social media feeds or forums. Such feeds are infinity pools (I didn’t coin the term) because they’re inexhaustible. They’re low- to no-value diversions. The attraction is the dopamine hit and the quick means to diffusing the stress or drudgery of the sometimes soulless work which pays our bills.

I previously mentioned how I use pomodoro tags to systemize the completion of large tasks. These large projects frequently involve creativity and massive mental investments.

But some projects entail low cognitive loads. Imagine a project which involves hours of work, but easy-ish work, like [[Find beach house on Vrbo]]. Sifting the many options takes time. It may take several hours to identify a few good candidates. Later, you’ll check with your friends and/or spouse before deciding which to book. Tag the finding task with #10m and a scheduled 1h repeater, to signify a quick pomodoro spanning lots of sessions.

Such tasks become your diversions, substitutes for the wasteful path of trolling social media for the momentary amusement. When you check them off, nothing visible happens. It adds an entry to the task logbook, but it won’t disappear and that’s okay. It’s not meant to, at least until you’re done with it.

Do this only with rote, non-creative tasks. I have projects which are so engaging, once I start on them they pull me in and I find it hard to return to work after the quick break, which is not the point. I don’t want to get sidetracked and make a priority of something which isn’t work.

This is just meant to provide a better alternative than infinity pools for diffusing workday anxiety. If you tag your mindless work with #10m pomodoros, you can have your quick breaks while not wasting the day on meaningless diversion. In my graph #10m is an alias for [[Escape Value]], which is essentially just an appropriate context for completing rote tasks.

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