In September 2011, a guy named Martin Berkhan wrote a blogpost titled “Fuckarounditis”. He was using it to talk about ineffective fitness habits– people who work out without keeping track of what they’re doing, without being methodical in their approach, without plans, doing too many things, thinking more about minor adjustments than major exercises, aren’t pushing themselves very hard, obsessing about the specialization of minor body parts (biceps), and so on.
It’s about fitness, but it could be about anything. I searched YouTube for “fuckarounditis” and found an audio engineer talking about the same problem in audio engineering. It’s not too hard to imagine what that’s like. Obsessing with all the little details and ignoring the big picture. Trying too many different filters and tracks and all sorts of nuances, but getting the basic stuff wrong.
It’s quite obvious that the same applies to any field. Want to be a writer? A musician? A programmer? Start a business? Whatever it is, fuckarounditis is a real threat that will keep you from achieving anything substantial. Think about musicians who obssess over the nuance of the strings they use and the picks and the cables and the precise strap height and so on. Think about people who obsess about productivity systems and apps and such, and yet don’t have all that much to show in terms of output.
Fuckarounditis is real. It’s dangerous. It’s brutal. And I’m totally guilty of it.
From a certain perspective, even these word vomits are a sort of fuckarounditis. I’m trying to go through as much of it as possible to see just how far the rabbithole goes. I suppose with creative work it’s a little less straightforward than with a gym workout. With a gym workout, it’s very, very clear. Build strength. Do the specific things that will take you the farthest– squats, deadlifts, bench press, pullups. If you aren’t doing those things, and you aren’t doing them heavy and hard, then you’re probably fucking around.
When I look at my ordinary work day, I see myself fucking around. What’s my number one priority at any given time, and am I doing it? Sometimes I don’t even know what my top priority is. And oftentimes, even when I do know what that priority is, I tend to put it off in favor of littler things. It’s like wasting time choosing guitar strings. It’s fuckarounditis. And it keeps me from making and seeing the gains that I know that I am capable of.
So what’s the solution to fuckarounditis? The first step is acknowledging that there’s a problem. And I feel I’ve done this before, repeatedly. And there’s a whole new level of fuckarounditis where you sit around bitching about how you have fuckarounditis and how it sucks. Well… what do you do then? I suppose you just quickly acknowledge, “yes, I have fuckarounditis, and it’s acting on me right now.” That’s about as far as the analysis really needs to go.
The next question should be, “So what’s the most important thing I should be doing?” If it’s gymwork, either you need to lift heavy, or if you’re not in the right frame of mind or you’re physically exhausted, then you need to go home and rest. Sleep. And you need to eat some protein. That’s pretty much it, really. What state are you in? Lift! Eat! Rest! Repeat! THAT’S IT!
What’s the equivalent for work? “Lift” would be doing whatever is high-priority. And highest priority stuff is usually a little smarmy, a little painful and difficult and scary, like squats. It’s also pretty much always the thing that I actually need to be doing. Well, so either you roll up your sleeves and do it, or if you’re really incapacitated/tired etc, you rest. I think one thing I’ve been guilty of is not resting enough. That is, I spend a lot of time doing lots of little unimportant things, because those things make me feel like I’m being busy, like I’m “working”. But I’m just fucking around. I’m distracting myself from facing the top priority. And I’m losing all these potential gains.
So I think one important thing is to schedule my rest in advance. What to do during rest breaks? Meditate. Play a bit of guitar if I feel like it. Take a short walk if I feel like it. Move around. I don’t really enjoy wasting time involved in stupid silly little arguments or discussions online with no skin in the game– I’d much rather watch some quality TV (currently watching Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom with my wife– it’s pretty good. It’s funny, it’s entertaining, it’s thought-provoking, it’s all the good stuff. A great way to relax and unwind and yet stimulate the brain). Or otherwise I can really just zone out. Read some fiction. Maybe even go play some basketball. Whatever.
Is there an equivalent for eat? I guess it’s learning, studying, looking at feedback, analyzing stats and so on. Getting informed. And I don’t do that nearly as regularly as I ought to do, I think. I sort of save it for the last minute. Which is quite similar to how I actually eat food as well, or used to. I’d just put it off until absolutely necessary. I’ve been reading more about sugar and diet and so on, and it’s interesting to think about the symbolism of pastries and sugar and other rapidly digested carbs. They don’t just taste good, they give us immediate energy. (The two might be related.) And it’s perfect for junkies like me who don’t like to prepare for things in advance, who just want to wing it.
The problem with just winging it is… most of the time it’s just fucking around. It can sometimes be cool to be able to get out of sticky situation, but life shouldn’t be one great grand continuous sticky situation. It’s not a constant emergency. And we can prevent that insane cortisol overload by preparing for things in advance. I’m done with this vomit and I’m going to bed. Boom.