When I'm tired, I don't have the mental capacity to go above and beyond, so I just concentrate on producing something, anything. Turns out it's much easier to modify something that is sort of crappy but exists than create something great out of thin air.
The take away is that if you can, just produce the crappiest, quickest thing you can first. Once you're done, seriously evaluate if it actually needs to be any better, because often this crappy solution isn't actually that crappy and perfectly sufficient (I'm looking at you, Unix). If you think it can be better or needs to be better, don't be afraid to throw the whole thing away and try and make a slightly less crappy version. Even if you redid the same thing 5 times and the result is only slightly better each time, it's often less effort than if you tried to create the final solution from scratch on the first try.
I don't know where this quote comes from, but I really like it and I think embodies this kind of philosophy and thinking: you don't understand a problem until you've solved it.
I’ve thankfully been able to move beyond that a little bit. A large part has been getting more confident in my work; or more precisely more confident that everyone else’s work is generally terrible as well and mine is just fine in comparison.
One thing I’ve found incredibly useful is having developed people who I can give first drafts to. I can accept that I’m doing “sub-standard” work because they’ll tell me if it’s actually bad or not.* I’ve been surprised at how positive some responses have been to things I thought were terrible.
Getting over that inner critic can be tough. Sometimes it helps to have a team.
* My mom was the first person I’d this with- her “I have no idea what you are talking about, but it looks convincing to me” stamp of approval has always been amazingly encouraging. Thanks Mom!
I think that's why writing my PhD thesis is taking so long. The final deadline is december which means i have to self motivate the whole way, something that is alien to me after 10 years of "the fear"
I've always approached this thought from the perspective of "how much time can I spend" instead of energy levels.
Thinking about it, it's likely a mixture of the two. Thanks for widening my perspective.
Pre-covid I was regularly doing an intense morning spin class before going to the office, so I was "tired" when I started my day, and my productivity was great. Not perfect, but much better. Since WFH/SIP I don't have the opportunity to do the same kind of intense cardio, so I've relegated myself to blocking my afternoons so all my meetings get scheduled in the morning. Even then, I still am not that productive in the afternoon, and sometimes resort to getting work done in the evenings when I feel I can take on a larger task.
Its been hard to adjust to forcing myself to write and do the hard stuff.
Being tired is terrible for your short term mental performance and your long term health. It also increases the chances you will be involved in an accident.
Yeah I’m like that too except my doctor had a name for it
1. What do you think you are supposed to do now?
2. What kind of difficulty are you facing?
And then it's easier to continue working.
: often attributed to Voltaire
You can also have a deadline. Productivity goes up as deadline approaches.
If you disagree, be civil and give reasons rather than throw insults.
Logically I'm aware that I'm my own enemy here - that my natural evasion of dealing with the problem is amplifying the problem. But that logic doesn't translate to action. Like an adult that tells a child to not let someone teasing them bother them, the child doesn't really have the option to NOT feel the humiliation of the teasing. When I go to try and tackle the problem, within minutes my brain shuts down except for that active amygdala, pumping fear hormones into my system and blocking any actual learning.
So avoiding the problem doesn't help. Attempting to tackle the problem doesn't help.
The problem is real, but who are the people that just go "oh, I just need to relax!" and that WORKS?!
I had these sorts of issues, too. The true answer to overthinking isn't to stop overthinking, of course. The true answer is to realize that overthinking is a symptom but not the cause, and so you need to find the root cause and treat that instead.
Just imagine you have some meter in your mind somewhere, not sort of unlike an HP bar, that measures how you're doing mentally. There are some actions you can do to replenish this bar, and some that will deplete it. If you find yourself overthinking constantly, it's possible that that bar is quite depleted. However, remember, it's a symptom of a low bar. Telling it to go away won't actually go away. You can also do a self-inventory to see how you're doing on replenishing it by checking to see how much you overthought on a given day.
Everyone has their own things that replenish and deplete from this reservoir. I personally like hanging out with friends and exercising, but your mileage may vary. Other people like meditating, or cooking, or walking. It's pretty crucial to remember, though, that your current source of anxiety is probably just a red herring.
Everytime I have anxiety it's my brain focusing on one thing to avoid confronting the real problem. When I finally find the thing I am avoiding it's usually not that bad of an experience to deal with it directly. Some examples are "I should call person X to deliver news Y." Or "I need to make a big decision soon."
If I can add onto "just do something", sometimes a brute forced/hacky solution is better than nothing. I know that I will delay something if I don't think I can do the "perfect" version of it (either in diet or exercise); however, I have found that starting a behavior in a small way and being consistent is infinitely better than waiting to have the circumstances be perfect.
In other words, if you take note of what you're having concerned thoughts about, you can pause and ask, "is it that important right now? Is it okay to leave this alone until tomorrow?" And if you can honestly say it's alright, you'll begin to relax.
It's a discipline like a lot of things, and it gets easier the more you do it.
But I don't think in any circumstance I could simply read this in a web article and get the point. The person that told me to relax was a psychologist, that had a list of symptoms to base his advice on.
I use GTD and Trello to manage my reoccurring tasks. I eliminate a lot of overthinking at the wrong time by planning and scheduling at the appropriate time.
After several months I have built a system that I have learned to trust. It has taken a long time to get here, but it makes a real difference for me.
This text generated by GPT-3
Early morning our brains have been largely reset and it's a clean slate, thoughts haven't had the chance to build up yet. Late night our brains are tired, making it easier to be single-minded in focus during coding.
Balmer's peak could be related to this (though I haven't personally found alcohol to work for me).
> I've been thinking about this lately, so I thought it would be good to write an article about it.
This highly meta introduction just cracks me up
You need to be an erudite, and know all the stuff other people has thought through, and ideally the current agreed-upon best solutions. This is, of course, hugely useful, and often fun! But it also takes a lot of time.
Since you quite possibly don't know enough about any particular domain, including the domain where you are trying to be creative, you are bound to reinvent wheels. To learn about known good answers in a particular area, you have to know that such an area even exists.
My approach to this problem is to try, stop, and do research once I've acquired the target.
I often end up on the verge of reinventing a wheel. But once I think that a particular thing I'm about to invent and implement is nifty and generally useful, I stop and and search for existing solutions. I'm very unlikely to be the first person to have this problem. Once I know the problem enough to consider my own solution, I know enough to look for existing ones, and maybe rank them. This saves me from sinking time on reimplementing a wheel once I have invented it, and it's usually 90% of the time expense.
The first version of the wheel used a square glad someone thought maybe a circle could work. Spokes were a big upgrade. The rubber tire filled with air creating[a donut changed the game.
In general I’m known for being a highly productive person, but I’m not sure many people know quite how much time I spend doing basically nothing.
Such actionable advice! Much wow!
This works for most things, but not all things. If you're trying to solve a difficult math problem for example, you can't just put your head down and grind through it. But for other things that you do know how to do, but not necessarily the right way (writing an essay, writing some code, etc), you can start immediately. Like if you have a problem and can only think of a O(n^2) solution, well, just write the O(n^2) solution, even if you know it won't be good enough in the end. Implementing the code for the O(n^2) solution will often give you insight into how you can turn it into O(n) or O(n log n). By writing a loop to sum number for example, you might realize you're summing mostly the same number over and over and can save time by instead calculating a cumulative sum.
You could very well have this insight without writing any code, but actually typing something and reading it gives you a different and deeper perspective into the problem.
Lack of productivity within an individual is usually* tied to procrastination. This isn't the only explanation but its low-hanging-fruit. Make sure none of it is still there, quietly causing rot.
So, I'm a proponent of thinking that "all"* procrastination is mostly* emotional resistance in one way or another. The whole "just do it" thing can actually work. For awhile. Checking in with your emotional state and being methodical about it can open your eyes. That's why its only "for awhile". You may need to timebox and switch deliberately. The emotional aspect can really play games with your head. Experiment with what works.
I practice deliberate creativity where I set aside an hour per day and actually write. Do the thing. Ideas or whatever. X words. Y diagrams. Measurable. Get it done. Do something creative. After while the brain gets used to it - well, mine did.
* A lot. Generalisations are like that.
Telling this from my personal experience, because I can't go from overthinking about my business to designing a database model or fix an issue. I need to take a mindless break, like showering or making coffee, or just grabbing a teaspoon of ice cream from the freezer. Those few moments work as a transition point for me to get back to work, and become productive.
Talent does what it can.
You do what you're told.
Not necessarily. Creativity can also involve intuition and spontaneous insights which go beyond logic and reason.
Well applicable to "improv" on your own, and also to "brainstorming" meetings: forbidden words "no" and "but..".
It's called (though is probably poorly named) ADHD.
Please people don't try to diagnose yourselves with ADHD over the internet. Go see a professional