Has this ever happened to you?
- Have an idea
- Start working on it
- Make a little progress
- Have an idea for something else that’s honestly better than your current idea
- Become paralyzed with indecision between these two great ideas
- Go re-watch Avatar the Last Airbender again instead
Earlier this week, this was me.
Except, for whatever reason, I just skipped step 5. I did step 4, I had a better idea. it was really good, simple, within my ability to do, and wouldn’t take that long. It even sounded fun.
So I dropped my original idea.
And yesterday I published howappsaremade.com
I flip-flopped. I lost focus. And it was awesome.
I really want to take the time to try and understand why this kind of decision paralysis happens, and why it didn’t happen this time.
There’s a lot of advice out there about focus and priorities. And most of the time, for me, that advice is crap. Advice around focus generally boils down to ‘focus on one thing. Do not bounce around on projects, that is not a good use of time.“. I’ve read entire books about this, namely Deep Work by Cal Newport. The whole book can be summarized as “if you can, hide in the woods and work on your one thing alone”
At the core if all this advice is this core concept: “instead of being distracted, choose instead to be focused”.
This advice is a false dichotomy though. Right now, in this world, with my brain, I’m not able to focus on one thing. And that’s not a bad thing. Instead of resisting where my ideas take me, why not follow where they lead?
There are lots of useful techniques for non-focused productivity. Structured Procrastination and Lichtenbergianism are both formal-ish methods of losing focus. The fact that others have documented these strategies shows that I’m not alone.
As I was working on shipping howappsaremade.com, I kept repeating to myself “It doesn’t have to be perfect”. It was almost like a mantra. The reason was really simple, it’s an experiment. I tend to be very perfectionist, so I have a hard time declaring things finished. But when it’s an experiment, it doesn’t need to be finished. It’s almost better that it’s not finished, if it means you get to learn faster.
And that’s really the core of why I think I was able to launch this time instead of flailing. I hope this was at least a little helpful. It definitely helped me work through this!