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The importance of doing something

Trace Oswald
Posts: 2127
Location: 4b
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I struggle with analysis paralysis, and it has taken me quite some time to get where I am now.  I still battle with this, but I want to share something that has helped me quite a bit.  I call it “the importance of doing something”.  It’s a simple thing, but it has really helped me accomplish a great deal.  I simply make a determined effort to do something, anything, that will help further my goals every single day.  Little things count.  It can be as simple as going for a walk and collecting seeds, or picking up coffee grounds from a local store and spreading them in a garden area.  Plant another tree.  Build a meal worm bin so your chickens have treats.  Pound a post into the ground, nail a 2x4 across the top of it and you just made a perch for a passing bird.  Build a blue bird or bat house out of scrap lumber.  Pile up some rocks for snakes to hide in and bask on.  All of this is simple, much of it is free, and all of it matters.

Doing this has helped me realize a couple things.  One of them is that very few things are as hard or as complicated as they may first seem.  Another is that an enormous amount can be done in a pretty short period of time if you just keep chipping away at it.  Someone once said that perfection is the enemy of good, and that person said a mouthful.  I have learned that it’s okay for things to be good enough.  A swale doesn’t have to be a mile long, 6 feet wide, 4 feet deep, and perfectly level, to be helpful.  My compost doesn’t have to be perfect to help my plants grow.  Very little that you do can’t be re-done.  Most importantly for me is that success at the small easy things gives you the skill, the confidence, and the knowledge to try bigger, more complicated things.  Success rolls into bigger success.  Regardless of that, if all you ever do are small, easy things, you will still accomplish much. Maybe just enough.    
Justin Mattingly
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Well said and something I needed to read. We're in the early stages of starting our homestead on raw land and while a blank canvas has it's benefits, it can also be overwhelming at times. Often being pulled in 100 directions, sometimes paralysis analysis sets in and instead nothing gets accomplished.  Thanks for sharing and now it's time to go do something
Rufus Laggren
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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But some planning isn't all bad. In order to do many small things, it helps  a LOT to have an overview and general plan in place because then you can boogie w/less worry about messing up something you didn't consider, but really need a certain way. Like you probably don't want to plant couple trees in the place where it turns out your driveway _really_ has to go, then a few years later when you've to the resources for the driveway... Hmm.

I think there is a "better" order in which to plan before tying into a big project. Something along the lines of 1) Identify what CANNOT change and don't waste time brooding about it; 2) Identify what you MUST have done, and when (if there is such a constraint), and think about your ducks and line them up so there's some plausible chance that will actually happen; 3) If #2 doesn't fill the roun'tuit list, you can always continue by moving material in the direction it eventually has to go.

#3 is my fave when I get too stupid to think things through or be at all creative, but do want to keep advancing. And there have been times when I did not proceed on something, and it was getting annoying and a little confusing, until, finally,  in completing something else I realized that the thing I had left waiting _needed_ the job I just completed in order to move forward properly. I hadn't been able to clearly see that beforehand in the haze of sweat and virtuous effort.

It's a process and I think you have definitely nailed and important guide line. But don't let a little planning scare you - just keep it tamed and harnessed. Spec a quitting time for the mind and when that rolls around, QUIT.


Chris Sturgeon
Posts: 314
Location: Yukon Territory, Canada. Zone 1a
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When you're overwhelmed and don't know where to start: start ANYWHERE.
Anne Pratt
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
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Not the same problem, but related. When I have a long list and am procrastinating mightily, I’ve learned to begin with the most anxiety-provoking or loathed task.

When it’s done, it was never as hard as I dreaded, and my burden is so much lighter that proceeding to the rest of the Things to Do seems like a pleasure.
William Bronson
Posts: 3206
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I wash dishes.
When I'm paralyzed from anxiety and afraid I can't accomplish anything,  I wash the dishes.
Order emerges from the chaos and I am present with proof of my own competence.
Plus the dishes get clean.
It's not always enough but it always helps.

In the midst of a project I will clean and organize my workspace when I'm at an impass.
It gives me time to think while still getting me closer to done.

When I come up against a lack of a tool or material,  I pivot to another part of the task that doesn't need that resource.
I keep doing this until there is a list of needed stuff,  and only then do I make a run to the store,  or back home,  or just back inside.

Lately I've come to realize that I may never accomplish my big goals.
I'm feeling old and run down, and time is running out.
That said,  I'm enjoying the pursuit of these goals, so much that I jealously guard the work itself.
My nephew/cousin is a proficient landscaper and I love helping him on jobs,  but he points out,  I never ask him for help in the yard.
That's because  he is about the results and I am enjoying the process as much as the results.
If I could afford  pay someone to create my vision in seed and soil,  I most certainly wouldn't.
It's like the difference between baking good bread and buying it.
It's tasty either way , but when you bake it,  you get a whole 'nother experience on top of that.

This can get out of hand.
I have to forcefully remind myself that DIY may not be the best choice for some things.
I'll look at a broken thing and start planning on how to use it or fix it,  and when I'm doing good I'll ask myself" Do we really want to be in the business of pants repair , or do we just need pants to wear?"
If repairing pants doesn't really spark some joy or save me a ton of cash,  then maybe it's OK to just buy new pants...
Eric Hanson
Posts: 3070
Location: Southern Illinois
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Yep, Trace, I get analysis paralysis pretty bad as well.  It doesn’t help that as I get older it is easier to procrastinate.  Worse for me is being a teacher amid the whole COVID epidemic has made starting new projects difficult.  Not impossible, they just don’t start as easily as they once did.

My best technique to overcome analysis paralysis is simply to get a list going.  At the very least I have a list of things staring me in the face telling me to get something done.

The list is especially helpful for getting the little minutiae done.  It’s the small, minor tasks that build up the most and become that insurmountable object.

Your post is spot on.

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