The Examined Life: Pandora’s Box

On an ordinary day, I get done all my daily chores and make a reasonable amount of progress on the current task (or tasks) I have in front of me. On an exceptional day, however, brimming with gumption, I tear through all my pressing work and have some extra time and energy to apply to the backlog. This can be a problem.

I have an ongoing issue with accumulating unfinished projects. Some people have a surfeit of good ideas. I have a surfeit of good ideas with accompanying 1-to-3-page treatments. I also have a little problem with scale; I tend to inflate a clever idea into a clever idea for a grand project. I’m trying to work on actualizing ideas at a scale where they might be doable; it still leaves me with the problem of generating ideas, working on them until I’ve written out the initial impulse, and then setting them aside to get back to more pressing tasks.

Most days, these projects in cold storage don’t bother me, as I don’t have to think about them. I note a piece of paper, or an object attached to a project, and maybe think in passing, “I should get back to that; that was cool.” But I have other fish to fry, and so the epic backlog just sits like a vague malaise over me.

When I actually have the time to pay attention, however, it starts to unpack, and I begin to understand the implications of seeing a project through to completion, with all the subordinate tasks (some extremely trying), all the unknowns, all the iterations. And usually, several unpack at once in my head. (Prioritization is also a problem.)

This is intimidating. Often, I wind up cutting the workday short with psychic anaesthetic in an attempt to avoid the reality of all the crap I told myself I’d do.

Originally published on LiveJournal