Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cleaning my Desk so I can Do my Work

It is a new month.

So often, I find myself immobilized by the fact that I don't know where to start on the eternal "pile of things" that follows me around... and so, instead of actually starting on something, I "zone out" by deciding that I "can't DO anything" until I have cleaned my desk.

Where to begin has always been an issue for me. It was an issue when I was a kid and had homework in five classes, it's an issue now that I'm an adult with multiple irons in the fire.

I was seldom overwhelmed by the actual work needed to be done for my five classes... I was overwhelmed by figuring out my order of operations.

The irony of that is that I am a really excellent organizer. If you need me to figure out your event using CPM or something else, so you can get everything done on time, and in order... I can do it. Of course, planning your event is a "theory." Figuring out how to get started on my own stuff is the reality involving where the proverbial rubber meets the road.

Much of the time-- when I feel stuck-- I "busy myself" with reorganizing all the "notes to myself" about what I need to get done in the next week, month, year.

It's difficult to simply choose one note, and start work... because what if I missed something more important, that should have been done first?

A lot of needless "wheel spinning" results.

It was my birthday, a couple of days ago. My lovely wife gave me a framed picture of her (she was out of town for the actual day), and I decided I wanted to keep it on my desk...

... which necessitated cleaning off my desk...

... which reminded me that I needed to file a bunch of stuff...

... which reminded me that I had been meaning to design a better "filing system" for certain parts of work...

... which reminded me I needed to move some "other files" from my office to combine with the "better filing system...

... which inspired me to "do it properly" rather than just toss it all in a box "for later."

All I was trying to do was put my wife's picture on my desk. Seven hours later, the photo was on my desk where I wanted it... and I had started a new filing system for my web work (which is great, btw!), a new (better) way to organize my writing ideas, a new (better!) way to keep track of "ongoing projects" for a couple of my web businesses, and my desk actually was a better work space.

However, I didn't get any actual work done.

It made me pause and ponder... and I realized just how much of my life has been spent "getting ready to work" rather than "actually working." I'm sure I have lost untold thousands of hours in that distractionary space.

For years and years, I attributed this simply to "bad time management" and "being a slacker," but the more I learn, the more it seems like a significant part can be traced to how my brain works... and how it seems so incapable of holding onto a thought. "Slackers" typically slack because they want to... for me, there's not that much of a "wanting to" element... I'd much rather be "engaged" in things, but it always feels like I am paddling upstream against a very swift current.

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