We can all get in the weeds sometimes.
It’s often hard to spot, because “in the weeds” isn’t the same as wasting your time. Usually when you’re in the weeds, you’re doing things that actually do need to be done, and that’s the trap. Often (especially around the house) I’ll find myself making small tweaks that are definitely improvement gains, but that aren’t necessarily big ones. But if the option is that or nothing, isn’t it better to make some improvement?
I think the answer is yes, but that makes the weeds that much more dangerous. Like real weeds, they consistently re-grow no matter how often you cut them down. In order to really get out of them, you have to either make the choice to do a lot of harder, real work to completely dig them out and treat the ground so they don’t grow again, or to just walk away from them.
Both are valid options at different times.
Putting in the extra work is often difficult because in the short term, it’s easier to just run the weeds over with your lawnmower – cut them down, and then at least they’re done for today.
Walking away means just abandoning a project. I think that we don’t do that enough, honestly, but of course it’s not a good idea in every circumstance.
So given that the weeds mostly need to be dealt with in some capacity, how to we give ourselves the tools to deal with them in healthier, long-term ways?
I like metrics. Tools I can use to evaluate my decisions. I usually trust them more than my instincts. My tragic flaw is that I often find myself making tweaks to the metrics!
One way I deal with the weeds is this: I let myself wander there for a set amount of time each week. Sometimes pulling weeds is satisfying, and sometimes doing literally anything can be a source of inspiration and motivation. The trick, I think, isn’t to never deal with weeds. It’s to get in there and get your hands dirty a little bit, so that you know what you’re dealing with. But put a timer on it, and then come up for air and use that information to design a better plan.
It’s a hard process – if it were easy, the phase “in the weeds” wouldn’t be in our minds so often. But it’s worth the work.