For every post I write, there is a post I don’t write. This, for example, below, in my WordPress instance, is telling me that I have nine draft posts (although, in my defence, this that you’re reading now is currently one of them).
These nine unwritten posts go back about four years, and believe me, some of them could have been amazing! There’s a school of thought that says you should never leave anything unfinished. It’s such a good habit to get into to just publish. It’s something that will make you more organised and more committed. It’s very difficult to argue against that, and if you have the mindset to complete everything you start then I wouldn’t advise anything else.
I thought again about the subject of procrastination when submitting my last post. I worked on the USA tile map process in June last year and always intended to create a blog post. So much so, that when I published my second visualising my county tile map template and someone asked me about the process, I went to my blog and was convinced I’d written about it – I hadn’t! So I started writing the post in November and left it again. For some reason I never finished the post, but when I was reviewing the year on or around New Year’s Eve I realised it still wasn’t completed. I resolved to finish and publish that post, but then when I got a message a couple of days ago asking about it, I realised I still hadn’t got any further.
Two days later, it’s finally done. I should add that the message I got a couple of days ago was from Kevin Flerlage, one half of the flerlagetwins.com blog. These guys know all there is to know about Tableau, and they regularly, generously and prolifically write and share their knowledge. Put simply, as Tableau experts, bloggers and leaders, they are the best in the business. So when Kevin called me out about wanting to include my USA tile map on an old blog post, then I knew I had to finish!
But that was the exception to the rule. At the beginning of January I considered what I wanted to do this year. Did I have any New Years’ Resolutions or goals to achieve? I made the conscious decision that I didn’t want to put myself under pressure, nor did I want to encourage others to feel they should be doing the same thing. You don’t have to enter community challenges the whole time, you don’t have to resolve to speak more or blog more. Certainly not in 2020 or its yet-to-be-defined sequel, 2021.
Instead, I decided to scrap the unwritten blog posts. They were of the moment. The blog post that was about judging the Information Is Beautiful awards was personally important and represented a career highlight. But I didn’t finish it. And that’s OK – I got to experience the awards and the judging. The blog post was relevant at the time but now it’s gone. The blog post about my highlights of 2019 … well I’m not going to recreate that one. Four other blog post drafts are genuinely titled “Aren’t you just colouring in pie charts?”, “Do we create visualisations just for recognition?”, “Is there time to do everything?” (perhaps a hint of irony there since I clearly didn’t find time to complete that post) and, I kid you not, “Whatever happened to Slobodan Zivojinovic?” which has been in my drafts for almost three and a half years … though it didn’t get much beyond the draft of a summary paragraph, I wanted to write about the joy of disappearing down rabbit holes of discovery when using data for personal projects.
Of course every unfinished idea needs a decision – keep or delete. But just like many visualisations I create never see the light of day, many blog posts don’t either. Visualising is fun, and so is blogging. And when times are hard (as I type, the UK is in its third national COVID-19 related lockdown), the last thing you should be doing is feeling obliged to take part in or complete something that you’re not feeling the love for. I gave this thought a lot of consideration when I started my book review blog post – a commitment to myself I was happy to make. But I deliberately kept it away from the end of December or January 1st, and it was a new habit (reading more books) I really did want to encourage in myself.
So, procrastination is OK. And so is changing your mind. For me, it’s USA tile map blog post written and the other blog posts trashed (the one remaining draft is this one!).
And now you know my thoughts on procrastination, what about my thoughts on cliff-hangers? Well, you’re here so you’ve got an active Internet connection, you know what to do … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slobodan_Živojinović
(featured image from GettyImages via bbc.co.uk)