Some parts of the past week have felt energizing, while other aspects have felt sluggish. When I stand back to think about it, the sluggish times are taken up with thinking about the energizing times. This isn’t inherently bad, but it also isn’t helpful for still making progress on things which need doing.

Being self-employed has its perks, certainly, but it is also met with having to keep consistently on top of your schedule, and maintaining a to-do list. I’m not a big “get things done” guy; I just need a general outline of what needs doing for whom, and when. The paperwork, as one might expect, is always the most daunting aspect. It always looms large, reminding me it needs attention. But it also needs considerable time, and I’m less good about scheduling that time. When such time is found, I then find it overwhelming to think about (and see) the sheer volume of work to be done, and quite often I find myself having a difficult time getting started. It’s hard to get started when all you can think about is having it done.

Faced with a daunting task, and knowing it can’t all get done at once, I find myself seeking some stimulus. I’ve observed in the last couple weeks that that often takes the shape of playing a turn of a game on my iPad. It’s a distraction, but for some reason fuels a strange sense of completion. But it derails what I need to be working on, and also can take focus away when I need to be thinking a bit more critically about something. It’s a mask: an action that requires no deep thought (in fact, it actively inhibits deep thought), and it requires no critical thinking or reasoning.

Despite it being Saturday, I took some time out of the day to catch up on some work tasks I’d been putting off. I switched on a pomodoro timer, and set to work. Within a cycle and a half, I had completed 40% of the work I’d been delaying. It’s a marvel that a concept like a timer, with built in breaks to work toward, can provide enough motivation to improve focus. The short amount of focus helped spur movement, and in turn that lead me to want to keep going. Once I had my break, I was able to use it for a quick mental break. Instead of seeking out input, I focused on output. And it’s made the rest of the evening more enjoyable for it.

So I’m putting this here as a reminder to myself: take some time to set aside distractions and focus, for short amounts of time, on what’s at hand. It doens’t have to be perfect (and it won’t be, despite how much you want it to be), and if you take some time and put some care into it, it will turn out better than you expect it. Then you can move on to the next thing, and do it again.