Yesterday I worked during most of the day. I was not very productive, but I found some insight about work. Sometimes I avoid doing tasks in which I have too many unknowns. Problems like this fluster me because it feels like I have no where to "grab" the problem, it is a slippery ball that falls out of my hands, and the result is that I inadvertedly start working on a different problem in the best case, or that I procrastinate on social media in the worst one.
Yesterday I faced this challenge time and time again. Finally, I thought: I don't have to produce this piece of code all at once, I'll start by getting a simple static response from the API, then I'll build from there. And it worked.
I don't seem to be the kind of person who can learn from other people's experience. Time and time again I've heard that procrastination happens because of the emotional state that facing "big" problems puts us in. "I have to finish my thesis dissertation" is horribly procrastination inducing, while "I have to finish this section of my dissertation" is less so. We overcome procrastination by breaking down big problems.
Sometimes I think I can't even learn from my own experience. I'm sure I've written down something similar in the past, but I soon forget and fall back into old habits.
How do you avoid forgetting? As I introspect I see it is not a matter of memory, it is a matter of awareness. If you are on auto-pilot and your gut tells you that monster problem is too big to handle, something inside you will automatically choose the next task to do. I am able to notice soon after I've sidetracked, "oh, I'm on Instagram again" is what I'm thinking nowadays, but it has been Twitter, YouTube, Hacker News. The next thought is "I'll have a break to see if I come back later with less resistance" which is self-deceit, it's more of a "I'll waste enough time so that I feel guilty about not doing anything, and then I'll force myself to do something".
This game we play with ourselves is what sucks pleasure out of work. Resistance → Avoidance → Guilt → Tension → Forced work... these are not emotions we should be feeling at work. We shouldn't plow our way like this. It should be Resistance → Awareness → Course correction → Flowing work.