I could have sworn I had a post on this subject, all ready for a blast from the past, but maybe not. Or maybe it’s under a different title and I’ll find it at random sometime in the future.
In any case, time for a periodic reminder that results matter. There’s something satisfying about finishing a task, particularly one where you can see, hear, and otherwise sense the difference between A and B. Writing only sort-of counts, in my opinion. Yes, you make progress, and writing ‘the end’ is very satisfying, but unless you’re doing it longhand- and maybe not even then; I don’t do a lot of longhand writing, so I can’t say one way or another- it doesn’t fill the same mental gap that, say, mowing the lawn does.
Brains are weird, and sometimes we have to hack them into doing what we want. Finishing a task, and being able to rest and admire the results, gives most people a mood boost, and encourages us to do another task so we get that boost again. Simple. Not necessarily easy, when you find yourself without even the energy to finish an uncomplicated task. The annoying but correct answer at those times is to pick the tiniest task you can accomplish, and do it. Even if it’s picking a single sock off the floor and putting in the hamper, six inches away, it’s still a task, and it can be done. Then admire your tiny accomplishment- hey, it’s a patch of bare floor that wasn’t there a few minutes ago!- and go on with the next tiny task.
I, in an attempt to up my game, previously had a habit of doing one thing every day that wouldn’t be undone by the passage of time. Chores that were inherently undone by the passage of time include washing dishes, vacuuming, watering plants, et cetera. All necessary, and they’re all technically tangible results, because you can look in the sink, for example, and see that it’s empty of dirty dishes. But they don’t produce any noticeable progress because the same damned dishes are there the next evening, waiting to be washed. And if that’s all you do, every day, it gets discouraging, and your brain can hack its way into thinking that all tasks are like that, and you’ll never get anywhere, ever.
To be perfectly pedantic, everything is undone by the passage of time. But I’m talking about things that won’t be undone within the immediate future. Sewing projects, filing a specific set of papers, fixing a thing that’s broken, et cetera. Projects, not maintenance tasks. Finishing a project- tangible or not, though tangible ones seem to produce a stronger result- reminds the brain that, yes, progress is possible.
I’ve fallen out of this habit, and one of my goals for the future is to get it back. So I’ll be attempting to balance maintenance tasks, projects, tangible and intangible results- because, after all, I am a writer; intangible results are inherently part of my job.
Wish me luck, guys. The year’s barely started and it’s already weird.