Just Finish **Something**
I’ve talked before about my mountain of open loops - projects to start, things to buy, stuff to do. Decision paralysis is real, and while you’re stuck in that cycle of trying to choose what to do next, the mountain just gets bigger and bigger. The simple five minute tasks start to look more and more complicated. Nothing gets done, and you feel that.
Everyone and their mother has a multitude of ways to assess what tasks you should do when. GTD prescribes several, based on time, context, energy, and priority. My preferred method to get out of the paralysis?
Just finish something.
The key to this isn’t to take something big and unwieldy and declare ‘This shall be done!’ You’re looking for the absolute bare minimum, something that could genuinely be done and off your list with almost no effort at all.
For me, that was buying a stepladder. We borrowed ours from my mum, and absolutely every intention of giving it back eventually, except she wanted it before ‘eventually’ rolled around. We don’t need a stepladder every day, but there’s ceiling lights that needs changing, had to reach places that needs dusting, and the ground floor gutters need cleaning. For that, I need a stepladder. It just turns out that stepladders aren’t cheap, and I felt £50 for a few metal stairs seems excessive.
On the other hand, we had more than that spare, they’re not going to get cheaper, and we need one long term. Plus, not only will this start the ball rolling re finishing tasks, it’ll help break the barrier of spending money. Four years of hardcore saving to buy a house combined with six months of fixing things within said house leaves me a bit, well, tight when it comes to spending.
But now we’ve opened the floodgates: clothes. I have one pair of chinos, which are now getting a little loose but still wearable with a belt, and two pairs of jeans, both with a hole through the crotch. In theory, it’s fine. There’s not a great deal of people who are looking both between and under my legs, but who are we kidding. Time to replace at least one pair, although I’ll probably keep both for manual tasks around the house and garden. So, that’s two.
Number three was booking a haircut. This was a mix of not wanting to spend money, not really having the time (the barbers I use is the other side of the city, about a 45 minute bus ride away, and no, I can’t just use another barber; once you find you trust, you use them), and historic reluctance to get my hair cut stemming from my mum forcing me to get a number two all over until I was about 15 because haircuts cost money, while hair clippers were cheap, although came with a side effect of being bullied.
As stupid as it sounds, booking in the haircut and committing to it was the final step I needed. This one was really the keystone; the perfect mix of time, money, and emotional barriers. It wasn’t completely smooth sailing from there of course, but it lifted the rock I was hiding under slightly. Just enough that I could move again.
In my free time at work, I’ve started relearning old Scrum knowledge and some copywriting techniques. The former in preparation for a potential new career; the latter to sharpen up my writing, and see what I could do with it down the road. Plus there’s somethings, like persuasive writing, that’ll be transferable across most roles you need email for.
At home, I’ve become more active in the housework again, I’ve been trying new recipes, pushing on with my reading, finishing my fourth book this year (No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, Audible, 7/10). I’m taking better care of myself: harsher calorie restricting with a cheat day Sunday, upping cardio, actually following through with a skin care routine, branching out into the world of aftershave (although this one is predominantly for the wife).
And there’s more. Started time tracking, which is already yielding some interesting results (more on that later). Pickup a Madden game, based on sports games being relaxing to me. Started meditation sessions again. Actually starting to reach out to friends again after shutting myself in for a few weeks. And today, I’ll even tidy the absolute mess of my desks, right before I spend the afternoon drinking wine, reading The Shining, and eventually napping.
I still have a mountain of stuff to do. A long, long next actions list. But I’m finally closing items off, including some stuff that I’ve had in my head to do for nearly a year.
All because I started with buying a stepladder.
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