Overcomplication Series (1 of 5): In writing & In life

I am a chronic researcher. The hours I have lost reading articles, tutorials, essays, studies, and so forth before I write word one on a project – staggering. Even to the point of reading an entire 200 + page book for what ends up being a single paragraph. I get a kind of geek rush when some story or article leads to another leads to another leads to where I want to go. It’s true! That is totally the kind of thing I live for.

Four years ago, I took a wrong turn in the multiverse and ended up in a dead end. I was working in my first professional writing gig—a sink-or-swim kind of job. Slammed with crushing deadlines, complicated medical, social & economic issues (I was writing on) and limited resources, I was sinking fast.

Something had to give. The workload wasn’t going to let up. The volume wasn’t going to slow. The deadlines weren’t going to go away.  As a grant writer, livelihoods were on the line (besides just my own); a blown deadline could mean out-of-work colleagues, it could also mean neglected clients. I started paying attention to the only thing that was in my control, my work habits.

Knowing my pattern of over researching, I built in measures to keep this in check. First, I write and research as I go. Sometimes this means leaving ______, _____, ______ where I know I will need more information. Sometimes that _____, _____, ______ is paragraph length, but at the very least a product is emerging as I embark on my circuitous journeys. This balance makes meeting a deadline far easier and often primes me to locate the exact information I need.

Second, I specifically define what I am looking for online and limit the amount of time there. Since the Interweb is designed to chase one topic into another without end, NOT setting parameters on my search often means following one topic after another after another (where does this hyperlink go?)/ Oh, so that is how they built the pyramids/ so on & so forth/ (what was I looking for again?) Now, if I do get sucked into a search (& really, what is the fun of going online if you don’t occasionally make new discoveries), I know that I have to pull myself out of it by a certain time.

Adopting these new work habits allowed me to keep my job (& other folks as well), but more importantly they had a profound impact on me. In part 2, I elaborate on how those easy steps transformed my life completely.

The term overcomplification comes from author Stephen Graham Jones, http://www.stephengrahamjones.net


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Overcomplification Series (2 of 5): Accessing the Inner Guinea Pig « Digital Taoist
  2. Trackback: Overcomplification Series (3 of 5): Accidental Accomplishments of an Inadvertent Goal Setter « Digital Taoist
  3. Trackback: Introspective Retrospective January 2010 « Digital Taoist

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