David Erik

"This blog has more redesigns than posts" - Any reader

I have a problem completing things

Completing things is most often what to strive for. You want to reach the goal of the task, independent if that is ”code this web application",  ”solve this particular problem” or "make dinner". And everything you do can be derived into smaller tasks. Cooking a meal for friends is partly cooking, partly making the table. And of course, cooking consists of chopping, heating, bleeding, and so on.*

There are several different approaches how to complete these tasks. If you look at the Scrum methodology for instance, you should prioritize all of these small tasks based on what is most important and then do these in that order, as many as you have time for until the next deadline.** And in normal life it is often a logical structure and flow to which parts you choose first (chopping onions before frying them, for instance, or letting the pasta water boil while you start preparing the other ingredients).

My approach to more complex things such as a programming project is almost always to begin with the hardest parts. The parts where I really have to think. I know I could get a lot of the other things done pretty fast, but they are not as interesting. Instead I focus on the most interesting part, even though this might not be very practical (doing the simple things first might result in the advanced part being unsuitable in the end). And this is how I like to do it.

The problem arises when these hard subtasks are completed. The moment I test them and realize they finally function as intended, I am hit by two seconds of happiness followed by a overwhelming disinterest in doing the remaining parts of the project. It is working now! The rest is just basic time consuming stuff that I already know how to do and I am certain that completing any of the remaining parts will not give me the same satisfaction. Many times I simply leave the project here, never to return.

This annoying but explainable happening totally kills productivity, even when doing something that ”must” be completed. Even though the simple remaining tasks should be the ones that are easy to complete, they are the ones ending up taking most of the time.

I don’t really know how to solve this. This is not that kind of blogpost. The only thing I can say is that to capitalize on this habit, I should probably work in a team and just focus on the complex things, while someone with better self control could do the no less important but relatively boring stuff.

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* That was a really long paragraph to say ”Tasks can be divided into smaller tasks.” Moving on.

** And that was a REALLY simplified version of the Scrum methodology. Still moving on.