Every day, we are dealing with a thousand things, overrun by emails and messages and tasks and chores … and it can become overwhelming and shut us down.

I’d like to talk about an idea I’ve been working with, called the Stateless Protocol.

It’s meant to reduce the overwhelm and help us to focus and be more present.

Let me explain the idea, then we’ll talk about how to apply it.

Stateless Computing for Humans

In computing, as I understand it, a program will normally try and remember everything. It keeps track of what you’ve done, where everything is, the state of all kinds of variables. This is fine for a program — computers are pretty good at keeping track of a whole bunch of things.

That’s how most of us operate — trying to keep a thousand things in our head, processing new information as it comes in, making a lot of decisions all the time. For humans, who never evolved to do this kind of processing, it can be stressful and feel overwhelming.

Another kind of computer program is called “stateless” — it doesn’t track what happened before, and store all kinds of info at once. It takes an input from another computer or program, processes it, and spits out a result. It’s done. It starts from a blank slate, and takes on the next task. One task at a time, processing it and then moving to the next.

For humans, an example of this is the person on an assembly line — they are supposed to just take the product from the person before them, do their thing to it, and then pass it on. One unassembled product at a time, not worrying about what comes before or after their task. It’s a very robot-like view of humans, dehumanizing in fact.

But there’s another way to approach this: you just do what’s in front of you right now, in the moment. If you’re creating art, you work with what’s in front of you on the canvas, in your heart and mind, and create the art right then. This doesn’t have to be about all art that came before it, and everything else you need to do. It’s just you and this canvas and paint, right now.

We can take on everything like that — wash this dish, fully, without worrying about my taxes. It becomes a moment and act complete in itself.

Then we do the taxes, not worrying about whether we’re a good enough person or whether the world will collapse — just do the taxes. Just answer this one email. Just write this one thing. Just speak to this one person.

That’s the Stateless Protocol.

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