Monday, September 12 through Thursday, September 15, 2022.
I have fallen into a pattern of deep procrastination, and I'm noticing that it's a pattern I haven't seen in a while. More recently, it's because I'm depressed about some aspect of the work I'm doing, particularly if I am feeling unsupported or lacking communication with engaged stakeholders, and I have to push myself to get things done by burning more energy to get the same amount---or anything---done. The stress of not wanting to break my prominses to deliver are what keep me going. I have also conditioned myself to recognize that low efficiency is preferable to nothing, and that there's something better on the other side (but in the meantime, take a lot of notes about what to avoid next time).
This week, though, has been different. I am trying to make headway on my OWN projects for the first time in three or more years, prioritizing myself over others. I've cleared the table of any external work responsibilities. I think it's the nature of the current task that is different, so I'm going to ramble a bit about it.
Patterns of Energy
I'm toying with a concept I'm calling "activity compartmentalization" based on these observed patterns:
Sri Pattern A: when I started this overall push 4 weeks ago, the computer work was rewarding because it involved building a system in which I could think and publish across multiple topics at the same time, and I could trust the system had enough ways for me to find my way back to a thread quickly. In fact, any activity that involved sitting at the computer, thinking, and typing work well. I like being in this mental space.
Sri Pattern B: looking for a solution to a messy problem that involves using other people's solutions are a lot less motivating. This requires energy injection from outside sources: the coworking discord, project partners, friends. I find the process of working through other people's documentation to build a new conceptual model and architecture to implement very draining without other people to use as a sounding board. And I can get very irked by bad documentation. But it's doable.
Sri Pattern C: tasks that require being physically in the world are a lot less motivating, I am realizing. My natural inclination is not to do it, and I have to trick myself into action by promising my brain a treat in the form of new experiential data. Often this includes friends in some way; for example, going out to eat to try out a restaurant and then recommending it, or knowing that just seeing a friend is going to be mentally stimulating from past experience. I also know that being physically in the world is pretty draining, and I will be unable to do work with any measure of concentration.
Sri Pattern D: I find it easier to be all or nothing with regards to doing something; there really is no in-between setting that I cam consistently manage. It's perhapas related to how my weird two-slot mode of juggling projects works; I may just be better at compartmentalizing.
Patterns C and D are new formulations, and that suggests that perhaps I need to apply them mindfully so I can rather ironically not have to think about them.
CHALLENGE - Apply All or Nothing - I find it's easier to just not eat (fast) than to count calories. I like having just one thing to focus on, and not split my attention to dealing with distractions. It might also apply to activities like computer games...rather than try to "bookend" the day with it as a winding-down activity, there are just computer game days.
As I mentioned in the last post, I have flipped the priorities of last week's two-slot focus; here's what I wrote:
- More Physical Space - It occured to me that the clutter in my house is entirely unfinished or unstarted projects. Let's try to dump stuff by project category and likelihood to proceed.
- Printed Products - Narrow deliverable scope to confirming Amazon inventory, and having some ETP8511 packaged, priced, and ready to fulfill.
I'm glad I wrote that down, because I'm having brain fog from fasting for the upcoming appointment in case there is blood work to be done. The unpleasant task remains, though, of picking some kind of cleanup chore to do. And for that to happen, I need to make the task into something that involves self-motivation, which is something that I find difficult to do. Thankfully, I have a couple things to try:
- Sri's first gambit: think of a question that could be answered by a cleaning-related chore like, "I wonder how many water bottles I have?"
- Sri's second gambit: find someone to body double the chore in real-time at the same time, so I feel like I'm contributing to a group win.
It looks like Amazon has the StickyPads in receiving, so that's great. However, I have made ZERO PROGRESS on even starting the decluttering process. Instead, I played a lot of No Man's Sky. In the last post I noted that I didn't like it, but I played ONE MORE QUEST to see what would happen and the entire game opens up and becomes much more of an engaging experience. Coming into the game expecting boring procedural generated planets and seemingly seeing just that, it was easy to dismiss the quest as just a lazy tutorial on how to play. However, once you get into space and past the tutorial-esque aspects of it, an interesting narrative starts to emerge and then the universe starts to impose its will on you with unexpected events. I played for 12 hours straight yesterday.
I'm very likely to have another marathon session if I don't watch out, so I'm thinking of trying a compartmentalization experiment based on Sri Pattern C + D:
- Make Friday a CLEAN DAY in its entirety. NO COMPUTER WORK AT ALL. NO COMPUTER GAMES.
- Make Saturday a BRAIN WORK DAY, as I lost yesterday to games.
I'm not sure if this will have any positive effect, but it's worth a try. I may through a bit of biphasic sleep in the mix too, using a 4-hour rest period to "reset my brain" so it's fresh and ready to go.