Dependency Paralysis, or Not Getting Things Done
When I am about to do a task, I think of all the requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to do the task well. I then list all the requirements for those requirements, and then again, ad infinitum. As you can probably tell, I worry a lot and get very little done.
Oh, but I have plans! And these plans are real — set in stone in my brain. These plans become more important than the work itself. Let’s take a look at some of these plans:
Use Google Drive for work
– Pick a new web host
– Migrate to new web host
– Decommission old host
– Use money from old host to get Dropbox
– Sort out files and backups
– Take backups on HDD and Dropbox
– Decommission personal Google Drive usage
– Use Google Drive for work only
Post notes about books
– I want to be able to format these posts well
– Make a plugin that’ll allow me to post sticky notes
– Make a plugin that’ll allow me to post charts
– Read about note taking
– Read about information architecture (the book is on my bedside table)
– Make plugin to show connections between posts
– Fix and deploy the wikidata plugin (structured data is important)
– Start posting about books
Now there are two things (among the hundred other) that always go wrong. One, is losing track of the why, and the other is fake dependencies.
The first one is an easy trap to fall into. I’ll be working on the sticky note plugin all the while worrying that I am wasting my time doing it. Why am I not writing about books instead? At this point I have forgotten that I am building the plugin so that I can write about books (silly, I know). I have to try and remember why I am doing something in the first place, and when I do I feel kind of stupid. Really, a WordPress plugin to be able to start writing about books?
The other one is more painful because it is not even true. For example, I don’t really need the money from the old web host to get Dropbox. It is a silly dependency. But since I thought that is how I’d do it, that is how the brain wants to do it now. I have to spend significant effort to show myself that is not the case. I can be stubborn with myself too.
All of this makes me wonder if I am even in control of my brain. Am I running some sort of bureaucratic corporate structure up there? Processes, lists, approvals. It is weird to have to cut through your brain’s red tape to reach goals that the brain itself wants to achieve. While the dependencies are a good tool for planning, sometimes I need to be bold and just start. Things don’t need to be perfect from the start, and sometimes even dependencies, real or fake, can wait.