My “Read Later” Queues Are Killing Me

Everytime I see a story I want to read, I bookmark it on Medium. I have lists like this everywhere but I can never seem to get back to zero. As I write this I have 43 articles save on Medium, 32 videos saved on YouTube, 13 podcast epsiodes waiting in Castro, 158 unread books in the Kindle app, and 53 random things stacked up in my Safari Reading list.

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By my estimate I should be able to catch up on these things in 4 years — if I dedicate 4 hours a days it. But of course, that won’t happen. I’ll keep adding to the pile. I’ll keep bargaining with the gods like the bespeckled bookworm in the Twilight Zone begging for more time. I keep saving.

Those number are a continual stress, and we haven’t even touched on my Netflix queue. My anxiety grown every day because the the damn lists are actually growing, not receding.

In time the weight of our promises to ourselves become abuse; continually battering ourselves with the stick of failure.

My “To Read” list on Goodreads is up to 7,126. That’s 70 years of 100 books a year. I’m fourty. I don’t think I’ll be reading a book every three days at 105. My list is longer than my life, and every time I see that number I’m reminded of that. Every time I add another book, I’m stretching further into borrowed time.

It’s weird a intersection of hoarding and FOMO, isn’t it. “I might never see this again, better stuff it in a coffee can.” But what would happen if I went in and deleted eveything right now? Nothing. I’ve done it before. It’s the reason that I’m not allowed to download feed readers on my phone any longer. Nothing is going to change until I change my perceptions.

When we throw something into a “read later” list what we’re actually is borrowing against tomorrow; we’re strapping libraries to the backs of our future selves sot that we can watch a Seinfeld rerun tonight. Tomorrow we will leave the next Sienfeld episode in the queue so that we can watch 20/20 tonight. While we’re at, lets add six movies to our watch later list. Over time it’s no longer about what we watch or read, it’s about what we tell ourselves we’re gonn watch and read someday. We live in someday.

It’s the same problem many of us have with finance. I’ll buy this on credit today and screw my future self. That’s how we live.

We’re continually stealing from next year.

So, how the hell do I turn it around? That’s the question every minimalist and productivity “expert” is out there trying to answer. The truth is I don’t know. Did you really think I would? Those list numbers I shared are current. I don’t have any answers. I’m galloshes deep in the river. I suspect the answer is being present and being grateful, but I also think we I need a good dose of “I don’t give a shit.”

Chad Hall