How to conquer work paralysis like Ernest Hemingway

I had heard this before and forgotten, of course! The way I think is to stop a (long lasting) activity when the going is good and you know and can look forward to the next step. I do this instinctively when programming, where I complete one part and I know what I am work on next. But there are many more places I can use this!

Anyone else tried this?


I naturally do this with writing for sure. For many reasons, not just based on my challenges. I can’t spit out a finished something on the first go. I don’t let anybody rushing me into disaster. Some things do need time and thinking. Translating my thoughts doesn’t come easy to me. I am sure I do similar with other stuff, too.

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I like it. I think I’ll try it. Thanks!

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A couple particularly interesting parts of this article and the study they talk about:

This part:
“We need to have belief in ourselves – some kind of expectation that we can do something. And when we’re closer to finishing something that we had previously failed to achieve, then that optimism increases.”

I often am in the situation where, after breaking up a project into chunks, I find that in each chunk there are more steps that I didn’t consider or steps that arise because unexpected circumstances arose.

as just one example: in the hour or 2 I set aside for completing a task, I might get 5 minutes in when I can’t continue until I finish another step - maybe something broke that I have to go back and fix, or maybe once I’m actually doing it, I can see something else is required. If I’m lucky, I will end this time I set aside where I started - ready to get to work on this task, no closer to completing the larger project.

I often feel anxiety to stop working on a project, especially when I know what I should do next. I think the feeling is that since I don’t have anything blocking me now, and while I am viewing this work as moving me closer to my goal, I need to get as much of it done as I can while I can. I guess, so that when I do come to a “good stopping point” I can feel satisfied with the work I just did. I definitely don’t feel good when I don’t feel any closer to completing a project after having just worked on it for 4 hours.

Part of something I’m trying to work on most recently is managing expectations of how long things take, how to properly account for every single step I might need to do, and how to account for the completely unexpected - so that I can hopefully reduce the number of instances like I described. (This is all very difficult to do)

The 2nd part was:
“When an interruption prevents individuals from achieving a particular goal or task, we find that they make faster and less thoughtful decisions in completely unrelated areas”

this ^^^ 100%
I definitely find the need for a “win” when I get really stuck on a project, and will just want to check anything off my list to feel like I’ve actually did something.