More Work; Less Results?

(Note: This post is NOT specific to personal finance. I believe that overall personal growth is extremely important for making progress in any other part of life. As such, this post is a part of my "personal development" effort.)

It's two months to date since I started blogging. This has got to be the most "consistently time consuming" hobby I have ever had. I seem to think about my blog all the time. What should I write next, how should I present it, what are others writing, SEO, traffic, templates, phew!. It’s been a heck of a ride so far. I have a ton of seemingly great ideas. But still, when I look at my blog, I think very little is actually getting done. Computer engineers call this state "thrashing", where the system is too busy jumping from one resource to another without actually getting any real work done. (Psychologists will probably call it Attention Deficit Disorder, though :) Basically, I think about nothing else, and am constantly working on it, but nothing substantial really gets done. Ever happened to you?

Of all the self-sabotage games my mind plays with me, this is probably one of the most destructive ones. With so much time spent, and so little to show, it’s very easy to get disheartened and give up. But in this particular round of Me-vs-My-mind, I shall prevail!

Step 1: Walk away from the task
In this case, the blog. I hadn’t realized how little TV I have watched ever since I started blogging! So, I put away the laptop, got a big chunk of chocolate cake and relaxed in front of the TV. The chocolate cake is not a necessary part of this step, but somehow seems to help :) As I watched the TV (and ate the chocolate cake), I drove away all thoughts of blogging that were crowding my mind. I believe, before the advent of TV, people used to resort to meditation to clear their mind. Can you imagine that! Anyway, with a couple of hours away from the anxiety of blogging, the anxiety about the anxiety of blogging, slowly started to recede.

Step 2: Figure out what the anxiety is about
Ok. Let’s see. I am a new blogger. The main source of traffic to my blog is from carnivals. While I have posted a few times during the last week, not many of the posts are, by my standards, "carnival-grade". Most carnivals have deadlines on Sunday. So, I need to write something good quickly. I have so many ideas. I don’t know which one to start writing about. There are so many carnivals. I don’t know which one to write for first. Let me start with XYZ. Start researching on the net. One link leads to another. I am now on a page talking about ABC. Wait a minute, I wanted to write about ABC too. So let me read this first and maybe write about this first. Before I know it, I have spent a couple of hours browsing and read about all the letters of the alphabet, but haven’t written a single word. Gosh, I want to write about so many things, and I haven’t even started. Brrrrrriiiiiiingggg, anxiety.

Step 3: Stop "thrashing"
Pick ONE topic and start writing. Stay focused. Don’t allow distractions. In this case, I just started typing about the first thing that came into my mind (which is, but of course, "thrashing"). The idea is to get in the zone. To go beyond "OMG I’m not getting anything done" to "There, I have started". At this point it doesn’t really matter what exactly you are writing about. If there is something to research, leave a "hole" and continue writing. Kill the doubts. Quell the urge to go look up something. Ignore the call from other ideas. Just put the current thought down. That should be the ONLY focus. Keep writing until you are done writing about all you have to say about this ONE thought. The spellings are probably off. The grammar is probably bad. It doesn’t matter. Don’t stop until you are done writing about the ONE thought that you started writing about.

Step 4: Plug the holes, add the finishing touches
Once the writing is complete, breathe a sigh of relief. Relax and re-read the post. Did I say all I wanted to say? Did I say it right? Do I need to fix spellings or grammar? Do I need to add any links or pictures? Polish the post until it’s satisfactory.

Step 5: See, now you have a post. You are not trashing anymore!
Cheers! Applause! Drinks to everyone on me. Great. Now move on to the next thought/idea/task whatever that was causing the "thrashing" in the first place. Repeat.

I don’t know if "thrashing" ever happens to others. I would think it does, because I am a fairly normal person with fairly normal behaviorial challenges. If you have never experienced thrashing before, you probably have no clue what I am ranting about :) But if you do get into "thrashing" then, step back and clear your mind, reorganize your thoughts, pick one idea and see it through to the end leaving holes if necessary, return at the end to fix the holes, and repeat with the next idea. No matter how overwhelming things get, this simple strategy helps get some results! It's fairly generic too.... works in all sorts of situations like dealing with examinations, dealing with debt, starting a new venture etc.

PS: If you do "thrash" wouldja please leave me a comment? The last time I checked, I was quite normal :) Let's see how it goes this time :)

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Sherry said...

Hi there,
I think you have a great blog!

I'm one of those frugal people sharing ideas with others also. I guess we all go through a bit of "thrashing", you're not alone.

I really like your 6 word story, it happens to be the story of our lives! :)

ispf said...

Phew! Thanks, for the comment Sherry. I was worried that there will be no comments and I will have to eat my words about being "normal" :) And, thanks for the compliments, too :)

The Digerati Life said...

This post is excellent. Brings home a lot of what bloggers do feel behind the scenes! I have fixed my problem by not giving in on the pressures of blogging. I do this by promising to only post a certain # of posts a week no matter what (it varies depending on how busy I get, but on average: 4 or 5 ONLY). Then I write a whole bunch of posts I schedule many weeks in advance as drafts. I do start half baked posts simultaneously when I get ideas. Then I fill them in after research and my own thoughts. And the result is I have ready posts 2 weeks to a month in advance. Before I publish, I simply proofread. No more anxiety! I hope. But still, it's a lot of work a lot of the time.

ispf said...

Thanks Digerati life, for sharing your technique. At present, I have at best, only one or two half-baked posts in my "unpublished stockpile" :( I think I will start by taking it to atleast two full posts in "reserve" and see how it goes from there.

English Major said...


I check things like my Sitemeter and Technorati numbers, like, way too often. At the same time, I don't know a thing about SEO, and sometimes (like most weekends) actively ignore my blog.

Nevertheless, I feel like I know exactly what you mean about time-consuming hobbies and "thrashing."

ispf said...

I have added "blogtopsites" to that mix to make it a truly "diversified" obsession :)