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What To Do? How To Always Be Doing Step #1!

by Mike Levin

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Time running out to get your work done today? Drawing a blank on “what to do”? I sure know I am. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone. Sometimes it feels like lack of air. Sometimes like writer’s block. Whatever it is, the following things will help:

First Steps to Almost Anything Requiring Motivation

Force Yourself To Do Jumpstart-Activities That Don’t Take Thought

Shake yourself. Maybe jump up and down. Maybe jumping jacks. Doldrums lead to doldrums lead to doldrums. Act-up, be-up! It’s the good version of “fake it to make it” because you’re not really faking it. The idea is to get more oxygen and nutrients in your blood and to get the blood circulating through your body more. So this is a case of merely going through the moves being exactly the same as doing the real thing

Going through the motions of getting your blood circulating actually gets your blood circulating.

Sometimes you’ve just got to force yourself to take that next next step. But even if you have the will-power to force, it doesn’t help with the question of what to do. That has to come not from force, but from finesse.

The answer is simple. Fire up your journal and start writing. Work through it.

Done With The Force. Now Onto The Finesse.

When it’s super-tough to start doing anything at all, just start writing in free-form free-association style. Just write and write and write some more. You may be surprised what happens. This is why you keep a journal. This is a place you should be practicing your vim-powers daily.

The key life-habit you’re trying to develop here is just being able to start writing anything at all. It’s just like getting your blood circulating.

So, start writing. Write anything. Maybe just the date. Ask yourself a few questions like you’re interviewing yourself.

Start Writing, But Not Writing About Writing!

Don’t get too meta about your feelings, however. Thinking about thinking about thinking about thinking about thinking will spiral you into a dark place. STOP THAT! That’s how you ensure writer’s block persists.

Instead, make some attempts at actually talking about that thing you need to do. You can do it! And no, me telling you to not think about thinking does not mean that it’s my fault you can’t stop it. That’s always the case, and with such weak-willed thinking, you will always find an excuse to fail, POOSER.

Interview Yourself

So grab yourself by the bootstraps and ask yourself:

You will feel yourself gradually gaining power.

Actualizing Into The Material World

That feeling of gradually gaining power comes from “actualizing” or “materializing” thought into the real world. Putting words onto paper (or bits into onto a storage media) as you funnel your inarticulate thoughts through your language-center of the brain, thus articulating them, is a somewhat magical, uniquely human experience.

That’s The Feeling of Being Human

So right off the bat, it reminds yourself that you are in fact a human and that you do have voluntary control over a certain amount of your thoughts and actions—perhaps surprisingly less that you might think at first, but still some, similar to the way we can take control of our breathing and blinking when we want to.

Try Breathing Exercises. Always Start With Breathing Exercises.

Okay, so to take control of your breath you can do breathing exercises:

There’s almost no way to count to 5 on every inhale and again on every exhale, then keep track of the overall count of breaths to 10 without shutting out, at least temporarily, the screaming voices of your inner less-evolved animal parts that desperately want you to stop doing this.

Stop That Out-of-Control Cortisol Production

Similar exercises can be used with blinking and walking, sometimes all in combination, to utterly and completely yank away the control from the panicking inner worm of the pituitary gland pumping out the stress-inducing cortisol hormone which isn’t doing you any good if the threat isn’t actually life-threatening. I’ve really got to cross-link the explanation here!

It’s Always The Same, It’s Just Fight-or-Flight, That’s All.

If this sounds familiar to you and such problems plague your life, shame on your parents. It means your parents didn’t let you rough-house and beat the shit out of each other, scrape your knees, throw rocks, and all that happy horseshit that makes us resilient and able to tell real life-threatening situations from bullshit.

1, 2, 3… 1? You’re Always At Step #1!

Okay, so what’s the exercise to get yourself working and finishing that project you’re putting off? It starts with counting, again. Why? Because every little thing gets done in steps and you can always list them 1, 2, 3… and you’re always at step #1. So you can always repeat the exercise listing 1, 2, 3… 1? Observe:

1, 2, 3… 1?

Visualize The Results

Describe what you’re trying to get done so you can at least have an objective measure of what you’re trying to do and what it will look like when you’re finished.

What I’m working on right now will be much like a copy of an instance of something that already exists.

Okay, so step one is copy the thing that currently exists. Rename it and change all the naming references to the new name… done! Next! 1, 2, 3… 1?

Done Step #1? Okay, Back to Step #1…

Oh, step one is now finding the new list of “properties” that will be used on the new instance of the thing I must produce. Go get that new list and put it where it needs to go, keeping the old list in-tact so I can compare and contrast for differences…okay, done. The old list is “commented out”, something you can do in programming languages disable lines of code while keeping them in place. See, not so hard. Okay, next?

Put Step #1 In Front Of Another And Soon You’ll Be Walking ‘Cross The Floor!

1, 2, 3… 1? Well, there’s definitely a difference in the number of items on the list, and the grouping of items in the list.

The new list has 19, 10 and 4 members.

The old list had 19, 10 and 5 members.

Wow, even though the members of the list changed a bit, the number of members in each sub-list is actually very close. I need only delete one row out of the copied template on the bottom group. This is much less work than I thought!

Put Step #1 In Front Of Another And Soon You’ll Be Walking Out The Door!

Lesson: you don’t even know how much or how little work you’re facing until you do a process like this!

Next step? Delete double-check your numbers from original files… done.

Okay, now delete that last row from the copied instance.

See? It’s getting easier. I don’t have to really do these “force myself” steps anymore. I just intuitively know now to update a few additional little things in the file then run the script… DONE!

But Are You Really Done? THIS Is Where You’ll Screw Up

And then we think through whether there’s anything we’re forgetting. Just when you think you’re done, you’re at your most vulnerable to mistakes.

Enumerate everything you know about the thing you just did…

Oh yeah! Add it to the scheduler and restart scheduler.

And then remember to look at it tomorrow to ensure it ran on schedule.

Now I’m done.

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