43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Procrastination through over-focus on unimportant details?

I tend to get very absorbed in small details of papers I read, or things I write. It's almost a compulsion, and it keeps me from getting anything done even if I spend a lot of time working.

For example, suppose I'm reading a book on a technical subject and find an aspect of a proof I don't understand. I can spend hours on it, to the detriment of my understanding of the rest of the book (which I have to rush through later) and of my other projects. But when I try to switch to something else, the nagging question about the technical detail pulls me back.

Basically, I am not comfortable with skipping something that may be important and coming back to it later. Has anyone else experienced this problem?

MikeGreene's picture

Similar issue

I've got a similar issue, though mine crosses from sorting into next actions: as soon as I decide to tackle a quick bit from my inbox, I find myself taking it past the Next Step. Unfortunately, I often don't catch myself until I'm 6 steps (and 45 minutes) in, doing things which are not all that important for the moment. Case in point: this morning, I sent an email to register for a conference next month. The next thing I knew, it was an hour later and I had mpas of the area and a list of hotels and potential flight times. Since they haven't issued the requisite letter with lodging details, agendas, etc. I'm jumping the gun by a few weeks. And I've wasted time that could have been spent hammering out some work on projects that are falling behind.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »