Are You Categorizing Your Nails… Or Putting Them In Use?

Not talking about fingernails here, but organizing your work.

I’ve noticed that there’s a chance that I find myself making a fuss about organizing my work. I might set up some fancy folder structure for different type of emails and whatnot. And after carefully going through all the stuff and getting everything organized… I just don’t want to do the damn thing. Organizing thus becomes just an excuse to avoid work.

It goes like this (almost a true story to illustrate the matter):
Me: “Hmm, I have this big pile of tasks. Let me categorize these tasks and organize them depending on the house work/repair needed and priorize the work. After that, I’m so totally prepared to get massive progress! Our home will be fixed, clean and so cool in no time.”
(day later)
Me: “Hmm, I’ve now organized the work, but goddamn it’s sunny day out there. I’ll grab some soda and sit on the bench for just a little while.
(another day later)
Me: “Okay… stuff is still in right places, so it doesn’t matter if I’d rather play some video games. I have plenty of time to do that stuff tomorrow. After all, it doesn’t matter if that wall is missing the painting for a day or two.”

And so on.

It’s easy to fall in the trap of thinking that organizing stuff would somehow mean progress.

The number of nails isn’t getting smaller no matter how well you organize the nails.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Thing is, if you just leave everything in a big pile it feels overwhelming, so you don’t know where to start, so you don’t do anything either!

  2. Hehe, same problems I did have, over organizing things, finally getting organization process my primary problem to solve or just not following the plan for it’s complexity. After some time I’ve realized that I was missing one point: “Time is limited”. So after putting imaginary skull in front of my eyes I gained great motivation to “JUST DO IT”. :)

  3. @lonestarr, Good Point, that’s a point I haven’t thought about. They have a huge playground around which they can use anytime (for most big studios). We, mere mortals, got only our office chair.

  4. Yes, Fili, I agree, milestones are our friends.

    Alfred, “reading and posting” can be somehow invigorating. Halo 2 team is gathered in a giant building with sauna, table tennis, etc. We, Indies, are isolated and that’s why we need blogs…

  5. I am always on the same boat. Everytime I’m putting everything in order, organizing following management patterns, using lists and spreadsheets…. And then, when it’s time to get things done, mostly of time I try to avoid things normally by starting reading another gamedev book.

    Once me and my wife were watching some games making of DVDs (Halo 2, Oblivion and Scarface Game) and I said “how can these guys make such games? look at them, they make everything look so easy”. Then my wife: “they are just interested in doing work. They aren’t reading and posting on blogs, they aren’t even reading books because they know if they use their time with that they can’t accomplish such a [stressful] deadline”.

    And I’m always reading and posting and so on, “I just need to learn about this now and I can start doing that game”, actually, as an excuse to avoid work.

  6. Deadlines alone don’t help (I need to paint my room this week), you need some milestones along the way, something like: today I organize everything, tomorrow I paint the wall, the next day I paint the ceilings, 2 days watch the paint dry, last day cleaning.

  7. Ironic coincidence. I’ve just finished organizing a lot of bookmarks into categories, cleaning out useless ones etc, and as I went to check Google Reader, I got to this post.

  8. I think the key concept is to have a clear deadline on your projects. Otherwise, you can delay it forever…
    Well, that said, the weather is shiny today :)
    BTW, organizing stuff means (small) progress.

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