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Choosing SOFA

The SOFA (Start Often Finish rArely) attitude is something I’ve often resented in my own self because I wasted—or it felt like waste, at the time—my life up to age 26 or so before I had the toolbox to more intentionally and directedly focus my time. I learned a wide variety of things but very shallowly. I’ve certainly been very grateful for the more directed efforts I’ve made since, but, as usual, people are coming from different directions on this and maybe the grass is always greener.

I kinda feel flattered that some people see the kind of sprawlbrain I was struggling with as something good, something they wanna adapt for their own lives, that they see good(?) things come out of it.

David Allen put it in a way that I like: “procrastination isn’t about ‘not doing’. It’s about ‘not doing, and feeling crappy about it’.” If you’re in a place you feel good about, then that’s awesome, and that seems to be the aim of both SOFA and GTD. To help you find a way to work (and rest) you can feel at peace with, to not feel like a frustrated failure like I did.

Intentionally choosing SOFA even though you have access to the GTD toolbox (or similar, BuJo or w/e) is very different from what I experienced, which was… involuntary SOFA? That felt like drowning to me, but maybe for y’all SOFA-choosers the water is just fine.

dozens writes in:

Everybody’s experience is obviously different and personal, but for me, SOFA is about constant self-discovery and reinvention, and eliminating the concept failure during that process. Throwing out “perfect” and reclaiming “done”.

I think that this lens most definitely widens and narrows over time from epic sprawlbrain to a slightly more focused kind of effort.

I was really, really frustrated with the very extreme SOFA life I was living up to like 2006 or so. I was struggling with sustained work and struggling even more with “wrapping it up and putting a bow on it”. I would be maddeningly, heartbreakingly, “pretty-much-done” (on the rare case that I even managed to continue work on a project past one session). I did a lot of awesome things, plays, stand-up performances, songs, even wrote the book for an opera but those were all done in one single night each. The whole “former gifted” thing.

So for me, SOFA is both playing to my strengths and exacerbating my greatest weakness. Whereas for someone having maddening levels of monomanic work ethic, I can see how SOFA would be a cure.

Ultimately, what I want is to be able to finish things to a releasable level. Enough to upload the repo and start accepting patches.