I... think I figured out how to do hard things???
The way I usually do things is I tell beeminder all the things I need to do and then it tells me what order to do things in. Ideally I just do the next thing it tells me to do until I have done all the things, but it’s pretty common for me to get stuck on something aversive and do nothing because I can’t decide to do something else while I’m being told to do the aversive thing, but I also can’t do the aversive thing.
Historically I have ‘solved’ this problem by never ever committing to doing anything hard. Recently I’ve been having somewhat less trouble doing things and have found that committing to a few hard-but-important things is worth the risk of losing a day to stuck-ness.
About a week ago, I started doing a different thing where I have a list of things I rotate between. The list starts with just beeminder, and when I encounter the beeminder item I do ‘one unit of beeminder stuff’ (this is well-defined, but the definition is complicated and beyond the scope of this post). Then when beeminder tells me to do something aversive, I break it down into a list of the smallest possible subtasks, and I ask my brain how much internetting time it needs to feel okay about doing one of the small subtasks. Then I put the aversive thing on my list of things to rotate between, followed by however much internet time my brain said it needed. Then I tell beeminder I did the thing, just as though I had actually finished the whole task.
For some reason this causes me to actually do aversive things. In the past week I have:
- Emailed 20 professors I basically don’t know to ask them to look at my postdoc application (my advisor told me to do this; I had put this off for at least 4-5 days because D: D: D: )
- Applied for all the jobs currently posted that I intend to apply for, including some that aren’t due for months. (I have been applying for jobs since mid-November and had never once applied for a job before the due date)
- Wrote my entire poster for a conference I’m going to next week (which I really should have done at least a week ago)
- Exercised 4 times (compared to, like, once in the past two weeks)
- Went to goodwill to buy shoes, found when I got there that goodwill wasn’t open for another hour, and then actually went back an hour later and bought shoes (I’m not sure I can adequately express how unusual this is for me)
This is basically just a recombination of things I have done in the past that have mostly not worked. I’m not sure why it’s working. (I think it would certainly not have worked before about July of this year). ????