There’s a box under my desk, about the size of a large crate of wine, which is full of cables. A lifetime of cables in fact, from USB to LAN to MIDI.

I should probably throw some of them away… but you never know when a 3.5mm to twin phono extension is going to come in useful, do you?

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Here's my problem...

No matter how carefully I put the cables into the box, they always end up tangled.

A clusterfuck of cables.

The science says that if you take enough long, slim objects, and enough contact points, it’s almost impossible for them NOT to get tangled.

Something similar happens when you mix together procrastination with guilt.

Here’s an example: I’ve thought about writing every Sunday for the last five months, but not once made it to my keyboard.

Which is weird because for the first half of this year, writing wasn’t a problem. I’d simply told myself that it was something I did once a week, and sat down to do it.

Accountability is a technique I’ve used before to make myself write 1,00 words a day.

In the long run though, accountability is not a sustainable approach.

Untangling clusterfuck cable 1: Accountability is like paying a kid to do his homework. It gets things done, but not for the right reasons. You can’t force yourself to do things.

I’ve also been feeling guilty for not writing.

My Freelancer’s Field Manual got put on hold before the first chapter was finished. And then, in painfully ironic fashion, a full-time freelance gig seemed to zap what was left of my energy.

The only thing increasing in strength was the guilt.

Sound familiar?

Maybe you have a pair of running trainers at the back of a cupboard somewhere, or a musical instrument gathering dust. And just thinking about the fact makes the guilt stronger. So you try to bury it inside you. Which only makes it worse.

Go easy on yourself my friend.

Everyone procrastinates. Everyone tries to start a new habit and gets stuck.

Untangling clusterfuck cable 2: Feeling guilty about not doing something is a vicious circle. To break out of it, take a step back and observe the situation. Breath.

I tried all kinds of things to snap myself back into writing . I read (half of) a book about exercising my demons, lots of books about the art of writing itself, and breaking my work down into 25 minute Pomodoros. None of which made much difference.

All I really needed to do was to write.

Untangling clusterfuck cable 3: You’re perfect how you are. You don’t need any more tools or books or techniques to get things done.

It’s time to stop reading about how other people do things (yes that includes me) and figure things out for yourself.

Start with something tiny. Spend five minutes working on it. Repeat.

Good. The tangle of cables is looking less scary now.

But there’s still one big knot to tackle…

Untangling clusterfuck cable 4: Remember your why.

What’s driving you to do the work you do? Who are you helping? What are you trying to fix in the world?

I write because it helps me think more clearly. But more than that, my work as a writer feels like it has meaning, in a way that my work as a designer never quite has done. I write because it seems to help other people, not just me.

Of all the things I'd forgotten, my original motivation was the most crucial.

Find purpose in your work, and hold on tight to it.

Posted to Uncategorised in 2015.

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