Fooling around – doesn’t feel like waste of time
1 hour spent watching useless Youtube videos, Whatsapp Statuses, Reading Medium and Quora
Creating something – Feels like a waste of time
Who is going to read/watch/listen to my blog/video/podcast, can’t afford to spend time on that.
It’s pretty strange but this is how my mind seems to have been working.
Lately I was trying to analyse my own behaviour and why I have been shying away from creating anything. I might make up my mind to spend 3 hours on a movie but if I thought about spending the same 3 hours in building something then I would start avoiding that.
But why such behaviour? Here are some points that I could think of:
No “quick” sense of accomplishment
I have a bunch of ideas for articles that I want to write, apps that I want to build, but can I do that in an hour? Don’t think so. Since I won’t be able to finish the task I pick up in the limited time that I have, why not pick up something that I can finish – and not just 1, I can finish 3 youtube videos in that time!
Creating brings along some frustration
I might know what I want to build but don’t have the skills for it yet. It’s like “I have the music in my head, but my fingers can’t express it on the piano”. It is mostly a frustration doing something that one is not great at.
Need to take control
When creating I have to take control, all the decisions, there is no one to share the blame. Decision making is not easy, it takes a lot of thinking, considering alternatives and possible outcomes. Example: I had to think whether to write this article as first person or second person.
Feels like work
Creating has some of the similar traits that I have at work. As a developer I have to constantly deal with what I just mentioned above. Some things just take a good amount of time before they actually get done – need to constantly learn new technologies and frameworks – take decisions. Hey! Where is my “me” time?
What’s the solution? I want to create but how?
It’s always easier to identify the solution once the problem is properly understood, so here is how I am attacking the problems mentioned above.
This is useful to tackle all the problems I mentioned above. How we think about something matters a lot. Reading books can be the most dreadful task for someone, whereas I enjoy several hours of reading at a stretch.
Once we are aware of why we want to do something it gives us a sense of purpose and it no longer feels like work.
Awareness helps in realizing that learning can many times be a slow process. The most important things that I do today took several years to learn and improve. (walking, talking, programming)
Example of awareness: “I want to write because it helps me understand my own thoughts better, it makes me deeply understand a certain skill or topic, shows me where I need to improve”
Use small chunks of time and just work
Divide and conquer is a good strategy, but it is hard to break down creative tasks and decide how much I am going to accomplish each day. Some days writing 20 lines might take up to an hour and certains days can finish writing up an entire article in 30 minutes.
The strategy that works for me is to devote certain time everyday, set a timer and work till it goes off. The “Sense of accomplishment” here is that I worked through the entire timer period.
At last, in life everything can be useful or useless. It is just a matter of perception.
The biggest takeaway for me is do something that makes sense to me, pause and think about things to see if I find them meaningful, if they do then continue doing them.
“We don’t control the results, but we can control the process.”