Starting Small Tasks
The way I prefer to manage my time is to break large tasks into the next one or two actionable small ones. Sometimes these tasks are hard to focus on, because it takes time to switch tasks and get into a ‘flow state’. Whatever that time cost is, distracting yourself will cost more.
Trust your prioritization
After you’ve made a decision about which task takes the next-highest priority, just jump in and trust that your past self chose correctly. Even if you spend 30 minutes on a task and don’t get it “finished”, you’ve probably figured out the direction to take next time you pick it up. The cost of doing something is always less than the cost of doing nothing - assuming you are prioritizing the right things.
Resuming a problem
Stepping back into a difficult problem can be a hard barrier to get over. What may help is realizing that your mind is now “fresher” on the problem, and may have even been working on it subconsciously. Attack your old problem with confidence.
I usually feel guilt when I’ve spent time just switching back and forth between tasks instead of completing any of them. In fact, this blog post took an abnormally long time to write because I wasn’t following my own advice. It’s important to forgive yourself, and remember that any task you’ve thought of is achievable. Just jump in and do it.
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