Paralyzed By Choice

How did I become so busy?

Too often these days, when I have a day off of work, I can’t decide what I want to do. Not because there’s nothing I need to get done, but because there’s so much. Take today, for instance. I need to go grocery shopping. I need to pick up some hardware for a project this weekend. And that’s just the short-term stuff. I have new features I want to implement on the website I take care of. I’m toying with the idea of studying some computer science through one of the free online university offerings. I’ve got a ton of articles bookmarked to read, as well as an overflowing Netflix queue. Oh, and I’ve also got a bunch of video games I’d like to play.

Where does one even start?

This is a recurring problem for me. When faced with a large task (or multitude of tasks), I have a really hard time seeing past the enormity of everything, of breaking it down into manageable chunks. Need to write a 20-page research paper? Then you’re in for a long night, because of course you need to do it all in one sitting. And then on top of that, it’s not the only task you need to do. Inevitably, by choosing one thing to do, you’re neglecting all the other things that are just as important. How can you manage that?

So in addition to the enormity of the task at hand, I am far too aware of the missed opportunities that inevitably result from making a decision. That’s why it’s often easier for me to take the past of least resistance (i.e., playing video games all day in my pajamas) then it is to risk making a mistake.

I imagine the two issues are related somehow. If I could just manage to reign in my view, to focus on whatever the task at hand is, I’d be better off. I wouldn’t have to worry about missing opportunities because at least I’m making progress somewhere, which would in the end let me get closer to achieving all my goals.

But I can’t help it. I can’t help but keep some concept of everything I want/need to do in my head at all times. Sure, I could write it down, I guess. That seemed to help in school, when it came to homework deadlines. But I’ve gotten so out of the habit that “getting organized” has become just one more task on the pile.

If it sounds like I’m venting, I guess I am. But even if I’m feeling annoyed by this personal tendency towards “involuntary big picture thinking,” I’m not letting it get me too down. I’m actually feeling pretty productive today. Case in point: I’m actually writing this entry before it has to post! That’s the first time I’ve managed to do so for more than a week. I’m also feeling like I could actually write another entry for the buffer, or leave the house and get errands run. It’s a fragile feeling of productivity, but I’m going to hold on to it tightly for as long (and as gently) as I can.

But really: how did I become so busy?