Sneaking Around The Urge to Procrastinate

About four years ago, I wrote about an epiphany I had while learning Prolog.

Well, now I’m learning Free Pascal as a more typesafe alternative to C for programming my DOS-based retro-gaming PC and a bit of supplementary insight came to mind:

Specifically, my impulses called this exercise pointless… yet it’s no different from the Rust exercises on Exercism that I’ve been using to make up for any skill biases in my hobby projects.

When I realized that, I also realized how to get around that kind of impulse: Saying something is pointless is fundamentally the same as using “What’s the point?” as a rhetorical question… but that question doesn’t have to be rhetorical.

If you ask yourself “What’s the point?”, you can answer “To prove you know it” to trick your baser desires into “conversing”. When they “say” that they do already know it, you can “respond” with “OK, then prove it. Explain, step-by-step, how you’d implement this.”

It was at that point, I realized why I was so resistant to it. The tutorial hadn’t covered collections (ie. arrays, vectors, etc.) yet, and, because I knew Pascal had them, my lazy brain was trying to distract me from how long it has been since I’ve had to group sequences without arrays, generators, slicing, or other fancy functional constructs.

Well, once I realized what was trying to be brushed under the rug, it was easy to take the newly revealed challenge by the horns and then end with “OK, you say that algorithm is a solution… Translating it to code is the work of a minute or two at most. Translate it to Pascal and prove it to me.”

So, what is today’s lesson? If you don’t want to do something because you think you already know how, try demanding an explanation of yourself. Maybe it really is that easy and you’ll convince yourself to just get it over with, or maybe your intuition is trying to keep you from realizing where the real effort lies. Either way, separating the actual mental work from the physical/digital manifestation of it may be all it takes trick your lazy brain into getting stuff done.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Sneaking Around The Urge to Procrastinate by Stephan Sokolow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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