Here’s why I struggle to get stuff done

My hobbies are like books on a shelf in an ignored corner. Every once in a while, I reach up and grab one. It is old and faded, but the weight feels nice in my hands. As I flip through the pages, a smell fills the air, and details rush back to me.

I can’t help but ask, “Where did I leave off?” And then my mind plays a movie; the scene faint, the sound muffled. With a struggle, it gains a slight touch of color.

After skimming some of the pages, a few memories come back to me. They used to be connected like the threads of a spider web, making something beautiful. But now they are scattered.

Rebuilding is difficult. When I realize this, sometimes I put it all back on the shelf and continue with something easier. Other times, I push through. Working and sweating to reconnect the facts. It can take all day or more to get back to where I was before stopping.

Other things in life can get in the way too, and this requires me to put it back on the shelf. But sometimes I make it back to where I left off. Then I whisper, “Oh yeah, that’s right.”

Photo by Albrecht Fietz

Now I can continue on this journey. But after all that work, it is hard to continue. I mean, it took so much effort, and I didn’t even gain any ground. That’s lame.

I may make some small bits of progress, but then something else interrupts it. And it goes back on the shelf. Then comparing the high amount of effort to the low amount of progress makes me feel demotivated and sad, so I stop.

Here’s what helps me

I’ve tried a few strategies to combat these feelings.

Keep things small

Thinner books are better than thicker books.

If a project has an ending, this is beautiful. I feel a sense of closure when it is finished. The feedback cycle can continue, and I can take lessons from previous projects into future ones.

If the project cannot be shrank for some reason, can it be broken into more manageable pieces?

Document things

Use a notebook and pen.

There are a lot of decisions in a project. If I take a long break, they are forgotten. Writing journals and summaries explaining the reasons behind a decision helps me keep my position.

There is also the extra benefits of improving writing skills and having documents to share with collaborators.

Think about it often

Keep the book shelf clean.

Having the project fresh in my head avoids having to regain lost progress. It is helpful even if it is a few minutes every couple of days.

Thanks for reading

Are there strategies that work well for you? I am interested in hearing.

Photo by Sasin Tipchai

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