Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Half-formed things - 2

Why I stop:

1. Unrealistically ambitious goals (e.g. my plans often include 15 hours a day work sessions) which, at some point, I can't deal with anymore, and put the thing aside, to start another, temporarily more intrinsically rewarding and less tedious and freedom-restricting thing.

2. Often, I just want to escape the drudgery of the implementation part.

3. I work on multiple time-consuming projects at the same time, each of which, it is quite plausible, demand sustained and exclusive attention. By the very nature of setting my goals in this way, I set myself up for failure, because at some point many of the other things will necessarily need to be put aside for some time, to focus on one particular thing. The danger is that often I fail to return to those things later.

What are NOT the reasons I stop:

1. Perfectionism - That is not why I stop. I do understand whatever I'll do will be immensely imperfect, even before I set out to start it.

* * *

From a neuro-scientific perspective, it seems to be true that I entertain the autonomous right hemisphere a little too much at the cost of the order-following left hemisphere.

Might expand on this part, later.*

* * *

Hacks to try and fix things:

1. Set precise process-based (as opposed to goals-based) targets. For example, "I will work on the XYZ project for an hour a day", as opposed to "I will write 5 pages a day".

2. Give those targets less autonomy. For example "I will work on the XYZ project for an hour everyday, at 8 PM"

3. Don't clutter. Don't have projects XYZ, ABC and PQR all vying for attention, at 8 PM, 9 PM and 10 PM respectively. It's hard to say what the sweet spot is, but intuitively it seems that having only 2 main projects has some advantages. It avoids the possible monotony with having just one, and avoids the clutter that may come with having 3 or more.

4. Expect that things can still take a lot longer than you initially imagined, and accept that. At the outset itself, ask yourself, if this took 4 times as long as I think it will take, would I still want to do it? If the answer is yes, start.

5. Start today with something (not very ambitious one, but still, something which is not trivially small - ideally at least a 4-5 day effort) and make sure that no matter what, this one project you will most certainly finish.

* * *

So, today, I choose to complete reading "The Master and His Emissary" as the first project, not too small nor too big, and one which will also help me hopefully finish the neuro-scientific perspective part just before the hacks in this post that I said I might expand on later. I will read this book for an hour a day, every day, at 10:30 PM. Not setting any restrictions on how many days I have to finish the book. My very rough estimate is 15-16 days, but let's see.

Since I, as of today, believe that having 2 projects hits the sweet spot, I will also be completing the Linear Algebra courses on Khan Academy, one that I've been putting off for a long, long time. Again, without committing to a time for finishing it, I'll just say I'll spend 2 hours on it, every day, at 7:30 PM. My rough estimate is it should take me 8-10 days, but let's see.

Most importantly, I will NOT take up any other things while I'm still at these two.

I'll come back in a couple of weeks to report my progress on these two mini projects.

No comments:

Post a Comment