Post #534

I am a kitten

9th February 2005, early evening | Comments (38)

(A 30-second off-the-cuff post scribbled while I’m in the middle of doing something I don’t want to be doing.)

Sometimes I feel like I’m a ball of energy that’s been compressed down and down by a single task that I don’t want to do and if I don’t get out from under it soon I’m going to explode.

I want to be writing blog posts, I want to be making films (better films) of our puppies, I want to be out taking photos, I want to be exercising, I want to be coding and designing some of the hundreds of ideas I have in my head, I want to be redesigning my site, I want to be creating something that makes you people say “Holy Cow!”, I want to be immersed in my work for Apple, I want to be creating something that makes them say “Holy Cow!”

But I can’t, because one task has me squished underneath it like a fat guy sitting on a kitten.


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Comments (38)

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  1. Gabriel Mihalache:

    Outsource it! ;-)

    Seriously, try sharing the load with other people. If that doesn't work, shrug. ("Dunstan Shrugged" -- one man's tale of personal empowerment and creative achievement)

    Posted 16 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Mark Wubben
  2. Simon Willison:

    I know exactly what you mean. One thing I've found helps is taking a good look at that one task and trying to break off just the very first step (in GTD terms, find the "next action") - make it small enough that it's doable, then do it and hope that sparks you off. If it doesn't, try to hack off the next one.

    Posted 49 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Matt Johnson
  3. Michael Simmons:

    I feel the same way, Dunstan. Right now, too. I am trying to get this thing done, so I can spend more time on things I care about.

    Hang in there, man!

    Posted 1 hour, 42 minutes after the fact
  4. ACJ:

    Would you slap me if I'd say "it's in your hands"? :)

    Posted 1 hour, 49 minutes after the fact
  5. Rob Mientjes:

    Hmmm... The good ol' taste of being busy. Good idea for a novel.

    Seriously though, just hang in there. It has got to be over soon, or else there's something awry wrong!

    Posted 2 hours, 1 minute after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Steve
  6. Turnip:

    Though I wouldn't liken myself to a kitten, I do know the exact feeling you describe here. And it *sucks*...

    Posted 2 hours, 22 minutes after the fact
  7. Chad:

    I feel your pain, brotha.

    Posted 2 hours, 56 minutes after the fact
  8. Paul Griffin:

    Heh, I'd LOVE to have just one thing "compressing" me. I WISH I could focus on one joyless project at a time.

    As it is, I feel like I've got about a dozen on any given day, with more cropping up and demanding my undivided attention every time I turn around. It's also extremely helpful when your boss won't stop calling you every 20 minutes, asking, "Where we at on *insert current crisis* ?"

    Anyway, suffice to say, I feel your pain.

    Posted 3 hours, 1 minute after the fact
  9. Joen:

    Hi, first time poster.

    This post caught me, as I've been where you seem to be, quite recently. I even made a somewhat similar post, hence my reaction.

    Good luck with it, I'm sure it'll work out.

    Posted 3 hours, 8 minutes after the fact
  10. Andrew Hume:

    Heh, funny. I am feeling the opposite actually.

    I recently finished some work, not a massive project, but it was really hanging over me and not getting done.

    Having finished it I can't motivate myself. Should probably be spending time maybe writing a blog post, or some other content. But I'm jaded, or something.

    So if anyone wants to hand on a 'great idea' I'd be very grateful. :)

    Posted 3 hours, 21 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Mark Wubben
  11. Jonathan Fenocchi:

    Does this mean you're going to redesign? Hmm? Oooh, you know I am going to visit your blog every day until you get whatever that tedious task is done. :D

    Posted 3 hours, 41 minutes after the fact
  12. Mindy:

    I completely understand. Feeling obligated to do something you dread is the worst of pains, especially when that obligation manages to consume your life. I'm slowly inching my way out of mine. It's difficult, but I can't put off the things I really want to do anymore.

    I think we'd all like to take our lil kitten claws and let the fat guy know how we really feel.

    Posted 4 hours, 43 minutes after the fact
  13. Alistair Lattimore:

    Don't worry Dunstan, you aren't alone in that feeling I'm sure. At the moment, I've taken on a project outside of work and it is really quite large. I feel as though I'm not getting through it because, after spending 10 hours at work each day, to come home and do another 4-6 just seems a lot of effort.

    Though, as above, I just pick a small section of it each day and complete it and it is getting done. Making sure you are hitting targets is the most important I think. If you never get to the end of a road, it feels as though it just won't ever end. Flip side, if the same road is broken down into small segments, it seems to go much faster and smoother in my experience.

    Posted 4 hours, 58 minutes after the fact
  14. Mike Swimm:

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    Man do I feel for you. Two years ago I was living in Hawaii doing freelance coding for 6 or so hours a day and swimming or surfing pretty much every afternoon. I was making plenty of money and things were great.

    Then I had the bright idea to start a real live business with my brother and father back on the mainland. By real I mean the kind with rent, employees, articles of incorporation, etc. All the 'fun' stuff I was able to avoid working on my own. It's been 80hr weeks for the better part of a year and now and I am starting to not even feel like myself anymore. No time for ideas, plans, drawings, fun. Just trying to keep my head above water every day.

    It sucks getting older.

    Posted 10 hours, 37 minutes after the fact
  15. Steve:

    This comment has caught my attention. I've had almost a year of these 'single tasks' that stop my from doing what I want to do; one after the other, they just keep coming. Be prepared to admit to yourself when there's something not right and then like me open up negotiations with a new employer and hand in your notice. It feels great! ;-)

    Posted 14 hours, 34 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Rob Mientjes
  16. Farhan Lalji:

    Same here, ditto, I can relate, make the madness stop, please.

    Posted 17 hours, 18 minutes after the fact
  17. Mark Wubben:

    Good luck, my friend... and if you need someone for outsourcing: you know the e-mail addy :) And hey, I know you love your puppies, but get your fat ass off that kitten, will ya?

    Andrew, I know something you could write about... ;-)

    Posted 19 hours, 30 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Gabriel Mihalache, ↑ Andrew Hume
  18. Maria:

    Breaking the goal into smaller goals just seems to work for me. Not that I have a "job" per se, or anything, but "housework", after being in the workforce for a long time, overwhelms me, while "doing the dishes" is totally doable. So look at the next task, and the next, and the next, and pretty soon, you're done.

    Posted 23 hours, 57 minutes after the fact
  19. Rob McMichael:

    Yup my dissertation is driving me mad, and I'm getting sick of web standards.

    You sure it's not just the weather and lack of sun over here Dunstan?

    Posted 1 day, 1 hour after the fact
  20. AJ Bahadourian:

    I can really relate. However, you had the 'guts' to share it.

    I'm addicted distance runner. Train and race marathons. Few years ago, we adopted three 'jewels.' ( Shortly after, I moved my small design studio home to be close to them. Since the move, I can't find time to fully complete tasks.

    Compared to everything, training/racing in the easiest part of my life!

    Wish you great success,

    Posted 1 day, 21 hours after the fact
  21. Lee:

    The best thing I find is to take some time to spend alone, somewhere quiet and allow the noise generated by all those ideas shouting for attention to subside. It's not easy but it does help you maintain sanity.

    Posted 1 day, 21 hours after the fact
  22. Dalton Hammond:

    I know the feeling. Just do what you can when you can and the rest will take care of itself. -- D.H.

    Posted 2 days, 6 hours after the fact
  23. Peg:

    *Peg's smiling*

    Posted 3 days, 8 hours after the fact
  24. Ido:

    Wow. We have similar writing styles. Excellent post. I feel the same way, but for different reasons -- school mainly. That's life, I think. Maybe.

    Posted 4 days, 3 hours after the fact
  25. Monkeehub:


    See those two dots up there? The one on the left is your post and the point it makes.

    The dot on the right is meh.

    (i.e. I'm so there)

    Posted 5 days, 5 hours after the fact
  26. Alex:


    Room for another? :)

    Posted 5 days, 5 hours after the fact
  27. Jonas Rabbe:

    Sounds like me for the past six months, fortunately I'm handing in my thesis in two weeks (to the day), then hopefully I can do some of all those things I am yearning to do.

    Posted 5 days, 12 hours after the fact
  28. Brian Gilham:

    Let's add a fourth.

    Posted 6 days, 9 hours after the fact
  29. Stefan Isarie:

    Dunstan, we all want to do things that sometimes it's impossible to do due to the fact that we are busy with problems that may not be ours. But this is the life.

    There are many, many moments when I feel exactly the same you do. But I'm doing these things which doesn't give me too many satisfactions because I have to pay my bills.

    As a developer, I understand your pain and I want to express my compassion. I hope better times are on the corner... don't lose your hope :)

    Posted 2 weeks, 3 days after the fact
  30. Matt Johnson:

    That actually works. I just did that today.

    Posted 2 weeks, 5 days after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Simon Willison
  31. Stephen:

    You really should be working for yourself. You have way too much talent to be working for someone else. If you can do this for a weblog imagine what you can do for other web projects.

    Posted 2 weeks, 6 days after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  32. Dunstan:

    Stephen, that's very kind of you to say so, but I worked for myself for 3 years and I've had enough of it. I'd love to be involved in a startup company like Flickr, but as regards being a freelance web dev, I've kind of had enough -- I've had some amazing gigs in my time but no-one ever paid enough or gave me the time and freedom needed to produce something like this blog, it's required a huge amount of work and people just aren't willing to pay for that for their own web sites.

    I just got tired of it.

    But thanks for your comment, it's always nice to know that people like what you do :o)

    Posted 2 weeks, 6 days after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Stephen
    Inspired: ↓ Stephen
  33. Stephen:

    "...people just aren't willing to pay for that for their own web sites."

    This is why I think you should be working for your self, as an artist. I think what I am trying to say is it would be nice to see what you could do if it was you heading up your own studio, working on your own projects. Financial rewards would come, people always pay for creativity.

    Strange how you mentioned Flickr, those people are a daily inspiration to me and my dreams of doing something great.

    Posted 3 weeks after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Dunstan
  34. Creford:

    What's funny.
    I'm glad you like kitten.

    Posted 3 weeks, 3 days after the fact
  35. Robert:

    if you can find a word to describe this feeling it'd be great... those of us in a similar situation would then have something to label ourselves ;)

    i have found something that really (really) helps - jack daniels :) shame it needs to be administered in quantities sufficient to cause long term liver damage :(

    a succinct post that's given me something to ponder for the day.

    cheers - robert.

    Posted 3 weeks, 5 days after the fact
  36. Vitaly Friedman:

    Dunstan, will you REALLY be happy if you could do whatever you want all the time? Happiness can become boring, too. And I guess it's just normal that sometimes you have to do something in order to be able to do something you want later. Isn't it life, after all?

    Just a thought, though.

    With warm greetings from Germany,
    Vitaly Friedman,

    Posted 2 months after the fact
  37. Jens Meiert:

    Most important is what goals you set - so ideas and wishes more likely become reality. It forces you to prioritize things, and it allows you to focus on important issues.

    Me, I just love doing my job, though there are things I need to do, and I enjoy interweaving experience and expertise by working at home and let my employer benefit from my overall engagement (unfortunately, I currently don't learn many things at work).

    And I have so many things on my mind, too, but the continuing work at home or at travel only leads to the infamous proverb: Constant dripping wears away the stone. Huh :)

    Posted 2 months, 2 weeks after the fact
  38. Mikhail Bozgounov:

    O, this is so familiar to me!

    I want to be writing blog posts, I want to be making films (better films) of our puppies, I want to be out taking photos, I want to be exercising, I want to be coding and designing some of the hundreds of ideas I have in my head, I want to be redesigning my site, I want to be creating something that makes you people say “Holy Cow!”, I want to be immersed in my work for Apple, I want to be creating something that makes them say “Holy Cow!”

    I can sign under this statement of Dunstan with my two hands and two legs, right now! :-)))

    Sometimes things go this way... let me just say, I have made A LOT (really a lot) pictures last time I was in South Africa on business. It was October 2004. I brought with me the 1800+ digital photos. I know how to make an online gallery with these photos. I have them on CDs. But... I DO NOT HAVE THE TIME to do it - it's June 2005, and I keep saying to myself "Soon, soon, let me just finish this, and that, and THEN, I'll make this Southafrican gallery, I PROMISE!"

    Really, I do not know, how to break out of it... :(

    Any good ideas accepted:-)

    Posted 3 months, 3 weeks after the fact

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