Monday, December 14, 2015

Working Paralysis and Overthinking


Apologies for the title. I tried to be as descript and on point of what this post is supposed to be about and this is the best I could finally put down. This won’t be a game post, but a post about trying to get projects done and finding myself not doing them. I’m talking about becoming paralyzed at the thought of doing them that I eventually just break down and do something else just because finally doing something is better than sitting around thinking about it, even though I just pushed what I wanted to do further down the road. For instance, thinking about doing this post and I started watching YouTube instead because I just wanted to feel like I’m accomplishing something.

This is a problem I’ve had for a long time. I’ve wanted to make comics, become an animator, a game developer, computer programmer, podcaster, youtuber, artist, musician, blogger, etc. This would be choice paralysis, something I’ve come to terms with a while ago and learned to fight. I’ve solved this by basically either pulling from a hat, or working down which I can possibly do at the time that’ll make me happier. So far, I’ve chosen youtuber and blogger since I’m a web developer and they are close to my skill set and feel I can accomplish with better success.

Currently, I’m still struggling with something I call “working paralysis”, where you are set to do something, but just sit there not actually doing it. This is either because I’m afraid of doing it, have low motivation, not sure how to do it, feel that no one would appreciate me doing it, too overwhelmed with the idea of doing it, etc. I had no idea for the longest time why I had this issue, and it frustrated me to no end. I thought it was just from having low motivation even though I always had the desire to complete my projects, just never could get myself to do them. Now I’ve come to realized my issue is overthinking the problem. I would sit there and try to think out every step, then what I would need, and where to start, who would like it, when would I start this, how would I start this, who I’ll need help from, what skills I’ll need, and the list goes on forever until I become paralyzed and overwhelmed that I just break down and boot up Steam. This has hurt me even doing simple tasks like brushing my teeth. I would think how long it’ll take, how much time it would take from me from what I’m currently doing, how long should I wait after eating before brushing, am I sure I don’t want to have a dessert or snack first, etc. Then I find myself even skipping an important hygienic task.

Oh man, I have all these projects that I know will be awesome, or I know that people will like if I could just start them. During the last few months, I’ve been working on ways to combat this problem. Between trying to write down all the steps so I don’t overload my mind with trying to keep them all in memory, to creating schedules of when I’d have certain parts done. I’ve gone to using punishment and reward systems, scheduled out time of when I had to work and when I got to play, and went to extremes like trying to lock away distractions until I get my work done. Some of these worked with varied success, but ultimately working paralysis is still winning.

Just Do It
However I have found something that works with far better success and found myself completing more projects. As silly as it seems, using Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan has been the greatest combatant I’ve used against working paralysis because it stops me from overthinking. This only works if I can use this solution before overthinking takes over, which is a risk. What I mean is I take enough time to determine what the first step is, and before I try to go beyond that, I start that step right away. Usually by the time I complete step one, I’ll already know what step two is by naturally seeing what’s next towards the ultimate goal. As long as I keep in mind the ultimate goal, each step will sort of help direct me to the next step until I feel I’ve reached that goal.

I haven’t conquered my working paralysis just yet, but I feel safe to say that this new work ethic is putting me on the right path. I haven’t been able to use the “Just Do It” slogan every time yet because I do have to start the overthinking it process to find what the first step is and sometimes I don’t stop. But I have seen the most success and strongest results with it, and like a muscle, will continue to work on it to get this new ethic stronger.

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