Beating my procrastinating!

I think I’ve managed to beat my procrastinating. I’ve started doing the necessary work for Reboot over the last week. However my pace is a bit slow.

The problem is, I’m still itching to do some coding. TDOMF is crying out for me to jump right in, I want to do some work on MOC(my roleplaying group’s webpage), Game Crafters’ Guildand have a number of ideas for some cool plugins for WordPress. The danger is, when I code, I get wrapped up in it and swallows all my creativity. Reboot would be lost.

Apparently this is a psychology state called the Flow.

From Wikipedia:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.

I do get into the flow when I write too however coding has some additional “hooks” that make it worse. Two of the qualities of the flow are:

  • Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
  • The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.

When I’m coding, I find it flows so easily and “effortlessnessly”. Given enough time I feel I can complete any objective I set. And with a lot of my PHP projects, the rewards are fairly instant. Code a little, see the results. Code more, more results. It makes coding addictive. While with writing, I have to write a bit and then read and rewrite. The process doesn’t come off as effortless. It’s an uphill process. And I’m not a writer by trade. The task of writing seems more difficult than coding.

When I’m in the flow it’s hard for me to switch tasks, almost impossible. If I start coding and get into that state, forget writing. In fact, more than once, I’ve caught myself in the flow with a personal coding project in work and find it very difficult to break out of it. I tell myself, on the hour I’ll stop, at fifteen minutes after the hour I’ll stop, etc. Also the flow sucks for debugging non-linear problems. You get lost in one thread of investigation and it becomes hard to switch to another thread, even impossible to explore multiple threads at once, which is often what you need to do.

Also interesting, when I looked up the flow on Wikipedia, there was this link at the bottom.

The main point of Kevin Chiu’s article is that you should break up the task your procrastination about into multiple tasks that you can order by perceived difficulty (easiest first). This falls inline with the way the flow works.

And, unsurprisingly, this is how I conquered my procrastination over Reboot. I started by listing all the things I wanted to do, then started inserting the new headings I wanted to fill and then I started writing… :)

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