Lately, I have had a series of unproductive days at work. I would prioritize small issues over important projects. After some discussions at office, we arrived at a possible cause. I was having my attention killed by recency effect.
The recency effect, in psychology, is a cognitive bias that results from disproportionate salience of recent stimuli or observations. For example, if a driver sees an equal total number of red cars as blue cars during a long journey, but there happens to be a glut of red cars at the end of the journey, he or she is likely to conclude that there were more red cars than blue cars throughout the drive.
In my case, my brain interpreted the recent onslaught of bugs and small issues as having higher importance than long term projects. Alas, no one could point out an actionable solution to this. I was losing my confidence and others, their patience. After some random searches on google, I came accross this book.
In The War Of Art, Steven Pressfield starts with how he spends his day. After the usual morning rituals and chores, he sits down on his desk and starts writing. Does he produce anything good? That doesn’t matter. He starts writing and ends it when he starts making typos - the point of diminishing returns. He gives in all he has got. And, he does this daily. He knows that “it’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write”. He has overcome Resistance.
He personifies Resistance as a toxic force that keeps a writer from sitting down to write, or a painter to take up the brush. It prevents you from leading a fulfilling life. “Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity will elicit Resistance”. By giving it a name and enlisting its characteristics, he makes it easier for us to accept the negative impact of this invisible force on our lives. He explains this with many situations and examples.
The next two parts of the book feel very preachy and could have been handled in a better way. In part two, he explains what it means to be a Professional - to work day in and day out on what you care about and to keep doing it everyday, while an Amatuer just dabbles in what he loves, not making it their primary activity. In the third part, he goes into the metaphysical, the timeless higher plane where dreams and ideas come from and how just the act of starting can connect us to this plane and bring forth our creativity.
I think I benefited mainly from his writing on Resistance in the first part. He did it extremely well. This helped me understand and accept how people like Jennifer Dewalt could exist. It also gave me the jolt to get me working and won me back my confidence.