MicroTask 08: Drawing Boxes to Trick Myself

Micro Task 8 The first week of my microtask experiment seemed to go pretty well. For this week, I’ve decided to apply the microtasking to actual project work to see how it might work with themed work weeks. I’d liked themed work weeks, but fell out of the habit when my time was mostly consumed by the big project. I guess I needed a mental break from programming. So for this week, the big project focus is artificial intelligence for Project 1401, which was what I’ve been trying to get in the mood for doing over the past few weeks.

Rather than launch right into it, I designated today’s microtask as making a project-oriented microtask sheet, so I could continue applying microtasking in this specific project context. It feels a bit like procrastination because my idea of a day of productivity is 8 hours of intense banging-away at the same task until it is done. The microtask experiment, by comparison, is about learning to pace myself and accept a lower level of performance. It drives me kind of nuts, but I suspect my current mental image of productivity leads to burnout and anxiety. And so, I put aside my feelings that I was cheating by not doing REAL work and moved to my microtask.

Tricking Myself through the Day

It had already been a busy day of podcast recording and finalizing my taxes, and I was feeling out of energy by the time I got around to the chore. I didn’t even print-out the worksheet until 11PM, and it took me a little over an hour to draw boxes to start the design. The “Micro Project Sheet” collects some of the tricks I use to get started on a daunting project. Essentially, I try not to think about anything, and just start moving resources into view. If I let my brain manage the operation of getting started, it looks for ways to be distracted and escape. It’s not unlike how your cat knows when you’re going to take her to the veterinarian and she instantly disappears. My brain knows I am going to put it in the thinking crate, boxing it up until it produces something useful, and instantly resists! So rather than write down “Make a New Project Form” which requires thinking and synthesis, I wrote down “Draw boxes on paper for micro workstep”. I even wrote down the wrong task, thus pushing my brain off-guard. Sneaky, I am!

Microtask of the day So I managed to find a piece of paper, a pen, and just drew some text. I didn’t even bother with boxes. Eventually the shape of something came up, and then I felt compelled to put it into the computer to see what it would look like.

Micro Project Sheet

Not bad. I printed out a couple to try tomorrow. I’m not sure if I have all the right information on it, but I’ll just scribble on it and see how it goes tomorrow morning. Unfortunately I have a lot of meetings this week and am expecting it to impact productivity, but maybe microtasking will allow me to make some progress.

About this Article Series

This is part of a month-long challenge to see if I can make something small every day to learn patience. The April 2015 Challenge Page lists everything in one place...check it out!