Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 10 2007

The bigger things

I was mentioning to Mark the other day how I needed large chunks of time to edit the film or exercise, and couldn’t just do little bits at a time, he set me on to Paul Graham’s essay on procrastination. I’d been meaning to read it for a while, and the other night, in lieu of doing something else, I decided to see what he had to say.

It turned out to be an interesting little article. Basically, Graham is saying that, given the fact that you could be doing any one of a hundred different things, you’re going to procrastinate no matter what you do; the only question is how. Are you putting off working on big things in order to do little things, or the reverse? But life can’t be that simple, can it?

Sure, it’s a good thing to keep in mind. I doubt anyone would put “looked up 17 different 80’s cartoon characters online” in an article about me (though they might). I have the choice to make sure what I’m doing is approaching a larger goal that is important to me rather than making sure my apartment’s clean or that all my laundry’s done.

Of course, we’re not all Vulcans and must work through our emotions; working on one thing straight through could adversely affect the outcome of a project, so allowances must be made according to our mental states. But all in all it’s a good idea to keep at the back of our minds, i.e., are we doing big things or just running errands? Is this website an errand? No, I see it as a valuable outlet and communication tool. Making sure every little bit of it is compliant and neat on the page, however, is kind of an errand, in that there are more important things in my life right now to be working on. Many errands, like jobs, for instance, are means to let us work on the larger efforts, unless you’re lucky enough to have a job that is a Big Thing.

In the same fashion, many small things that may seem like errands can actually be little bits of big things. Looking up a strange character I see on a sign is a small thing, but it’s part of a larger learning process, working towards a bigger goal. Doing Tai-chi forms. Taking pictures. Even just walking around to clear my head. Perhaps our subconsciouses can identify the big things in our lives better than our conscious thoughts can.

But making sure all my Flickr tags and sets are Just So? Arguing in the political forums of Forumosa.com? Comparing camera video quality of Youtube clips? Complete wastes of time.

I have bigger things to do.

posted by Poagao at 11:06 am  


  1. yes, things that look small to others may be vitally important to you. but how do you know if you are fooling yourself? you say that this little thing is part of a big thing, but later you realize you were just avoiding something that really needed to be taken care of but was threatening in some way. how to avoid lying to yourself? i think looking over past journals to see your own patterns of behavior might help. like, oh yeah, back in97 i was all pumped about my goal to be a documentary film maker, but actually i just wound up chatting on forumosa and surfing on line a lot of the time….but you poagao have accomplished a lot of projects that are tangible. you don’t seem to be a waster of time to me at all. you just might have a different style to approach your projects than mark.

    Comment by v — May 10, 2007 @ 9:09 pm

  2. I really am a bad procrastinator. I put off everything by mindlessly web-surfing, and re-watching sci-fi shows.

    Comment by Mark — May 11, 2007 @ 1:28 am

  3. The bigger things is what we decide,not others.
    The bigger thing is what we like and willing to do.

    Comment by Caroline Hsu — May 12, 2007 @ 4:28 am

  4. 🙂 this made me laugh: he set me on to Paul Graham’s essay on procrastination. I’d been meaning to read it for a while

    Procrastinating about reading a procrastination article. tsk tsk.

    Comment by Catherine — May 13, 2007 @ 12:42 am

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