Dealing With Stupid Little Things

Sometimes stupid little problems get in the way of important activities.

For example, in the summer I find myself reluctant to go into the recording studio (where I also work on Hypnos CD cover designs) for no reason other than that it tends to get warm in that room.

A few months ago, I found myself skipping a couple of writing sessions not because I didn’t feel like writing, or because I was too tired to wake up early and do it, but because I was having technical problems with my bluetooth mouse and keyboard.

Two weeks ago at my day job, an task came up that I found myself procrastinating on, not because the work involved was too difficult, but just because I didn’t know the answer to a question and didn’t have any luck figuring out where to ask.

And lately, I’ve been blogging a lot less (though I still post on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ plenty) because my preferred blogging interface, Scribefire, was giving me a bit of difficulty. Specifically, Scribefire on Google Chrome was refusing to post my updates to one of my two blogs (I keep the same blog posts mirrored on both WordPress and Livejournal), and Scribefire on Firefox was giving me weird interface glitches.

So does it make sense that I completely avoid doing something important because something trivial got in the way? It may not make logical sense, but it does make sense if you understand human nature. Put an obstacle in front of somebody, and most often you’ll nudge them in a slightly different direction, even if the obstacle isn’t really insurmountable.

The more aware I am of this tendency in myself, the more I try to jump right onto solving any stupid little issue that may be blocking me from accomplishing something important, or even just finish a task that needs doing. The easier you can make it for yourself to do a certain task, the more likely you are to drift toward doing it. It’s just human nature to follow the path of least resistance, at least at first. Once you’ve been avoiding something for a while you may get mad at yourself and take another crack at it, and bash right through that obstacle. But it’s better yet if you can recognize earlier on that it’s happening and fix the little problem.

Many of the things that used to cause me lots of frustration and stress — such as keeping my email inbox clean, or always remembering to file certain reports or pay certain bills according to a schedule — became trivially easy once I realized the mental block that was causing the problem.

I suggest everybody take a few minutes to step back from your job or your creative work and make a list of aspects that you hate, or avoid doing, or that stress you out. Try to think of ways to make these things easier or less stressful. Look at ways that other people accomplish these same tasks, and consider adapting some of their approaches as your own. Eventually you may come up with your own unique way of handling things, and you might find something that really stressed you out before (for me it was the email inbox) becomes easy to manage.

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