#23: Getting things done to resolve anxiety

This week I share my guilt-free media ingestion and the steps I’m taking to resolve my anxiety.


When people start picking apart logic, it means they’re not emotionally involved in the story.

Brian McDonald

A carryover from having family visit last week, and the resultant lack of productivity, is having difficulty getting back on track.

But I’ve managed to avoid guilt at not being productive, and watched stuff without drawing at the same time.

(Note: this is partially abetted by having some carpal-ish aches & twinges throughout my drawing arm. It’s been a good excuse to not work out as well.)

This can’t last forever but I’m enjoying giving my full attention to what I’ve watched in the past week:

Cronos by Guillermo del Toro
What a great movie poster…
  • Cronos: Guillermo del Toro’s first feature film, which I’ve avoided for awhile because I needed to read the subtitles (can’t read & draw very well). A good creepfest with a younger Ron Perlman who’s not yet skilled enough to pull off Hannibal Chao.
  • Raiders: It was the 40th anniversary of its release on Sunday so a perfect excuse to watch it for the 2nd time this year. It’s aged beautifully (and I don’t buy the ‘he’s irrelevant’ crap) and I’m at the point where I notice details that I overlooked before.
    This time I noticed how they setup his run away from Belloq in the opening minutes. Satipo is freaked out by statue, then there’s the poison dart tasting (note: I still can’t figure out how the Hovitos are following them but the poison is 3 days old? So … the Hovitos are ahead of them? They’re everywhere? Can’t find them in the jungle?), and then they establish being near a river with the first scene where he uses his whip and we get a look at his face.
    When running away from Belloq, he runs past the darts, then the statue, and then across a big grassy field to his escape plane on the river we knew was nearby.
    (Die Hard does this too – look for McClane glancing at a centerfold, and then running past it during the cat & mouse scenes in the middle of the movie.)
    image 62
    This being William Hootkins.
    Also, the faces William Hootkins makes, he sells being a skeptic sooooo hard.
  • Sweet Tooth: I remember the comic book being kinda depressing but the show is a fun kid-focused tale, that leaves you wanting more as the season ends. Like Invincible, I’ll have to catch up on the comics before the next season rolls around.
  • Luca: That’s 2 excellent movies in a row for Pixar, they’ve been uneven ever since Cars 2 (bottoming out with The Good Dinosaur and Cars 3). I loved Luca, though I’ve wanted to live on the Mediterranean for years – I’ve long believed that ownership of a Vespa would be proof that I’d made it (because I’d only own one if I lived in a Mediterranean paradise). I keep thinking about those empty Italian towns that are desperately trying to attract residents…
  • Ragnarok: a kick-ass Norwegian series based on – duh – Norse mythology. Season 2 just got released and it’s taking whatever self-control I have not to binge it all at once. I prefer reading subtitles, because dubs rarely capture the same emotion, but dubs are available. I’m going to have to check Norway out sometime.
  • The Rock: I saved the best for last – I’d never seen this before as I was in a snooty movie phase in the mid-90s. But it’s a prime Nic Cage movie with a great cast of actors, including Sean ‘Domestic Abuser’ Connery, Ed Harris, Michael Biehn, Tony Todd (Candyman in the house!), John ‘I celebrate his entire catalogue’ McGinley, and a bunch of other familiar faces – including Borat’s wife.
    Harris as the villain had an agreeable motivation to get restitution for families of slain soldiers (but I can see right wing nut jobs get inspired to do dumb shit based on this). Overall, the idea is ridiculous (I really need to write my own bad action story someday). And despite being directed by Michael Bay, who is incapable of letting the camera stay still, it’s engaging & fun.
    Also, if you ever wanted to see Nic Cage have sex on a rooftop, this is the movie for you.


While I’ve avoided beating myself up, I’ve kept an eye on resolving my anxiety.

Nicholas Cage holding his green balls in The Rock
Nicholas Cage holding his green balls in The Rock

Most of it (and perhaps all of it) is based on not getting enough done, coupled with the fact that I’m almost 50 and I’ve wasted years of my life trying to figure shit out.

Forging ahead with Growing Gills, my objective this week was to get organized and break down my big projects into small, doable steps. I’m still on the ‘get organized’ part of this, and for that, I need to 1) fix my task management system so it works better and 2) institute daily & weekly reviews (something I’ve tried really, really hard to avoid for YEARS).

The last time I was well organized was in high school.

14yo me did not need drugs to look high af
14yo me did not need drugs to look high af

It was simple – I had a small notebook where I wrote down my homework & test dates, and I got shit done. Everything since then has been a bit of a mess, until I started freelancing and needed to keep multiple projects organized. And once I decided on creative goals, that added another layer of complexity that I haven’t solved yet – but I will in the next couple of weeks.

Jessica (do I even need to tell you her last name anymore?) calls having a method of getting shit done a custom designed, powered exoskeleton. Her approach is springboards off the famed Getting Things Done method, carrying over the ideas of capturing everything instead of letting things float in your head, deciding & acting on what’s important, and doing weekly reviews.

I mentioned earlier that I’ve avoided them like the plague but she told me to look at it like my Master of the Universe time and that sounds SOOOOOO much better than guiltily considering how I failed that week:

Think of weekly review as your Master of the Universe time. This is when YOU get to decide—what things mean to you, what is a yes going forward…and what is a no. It’s pure awesome.

Jessica Abel (@jccabel) June 12, 2021

(insert obligatory Master of Your Domain joke >>> here <<<)

(Also, I just learned that after pasting a Twitter link into WordPress, the block now has an Unroll option that converts the tweet to text and citation – which is how I easily turned it into a quote.)

Procrastination is the result of general anxiety or being overwhelmed by the scope of what needs to be done.

Don’t get me wrong – I get my day job work done – but I know I can do it better and more efficiently if I could deal with my anxiety & overwhelm.

And that would carry over to getting my creative work done, because that’s where the bulk of my anxiety is generated – it’s no coincidence that my anxiety increased the more serious I got about making comics.

I use Todoist to keep track of my tasks, and I’ve organized it – but it’s not efficient. And it’s a bit of a mess. Yesterday, I decided to do a deep dive into the GTD method and how to setup Todoist to work with it – and found something interesting in the resultant rabbit hole.

Have you heard of the Zeigarnik Effect?

Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik first studied the phenomenon after her professor and Gestalt psychologist Kurt Lewin noticed that a waiter had better recollections of still unpaid orders. However, after the completion of the task – after everyone had paid – he was unable to remember any more details of the orders.


Basically, the Zeigarnik effect asserts that people remember unfinished tasks better than completed tasks. And recall that procrastination is a result of anxiety over getting things done?

So we’re freaked out by all the shit we haven’t finished and the Zeigarnik effect confirms this. This is just the way the human mind works.

I know, right?

My objective this weekend is to overhaul and reorganize Todoist, from top to bottom. And then spend the next couple of weeks tweaking it until I’ve got a handle on my anxiety because I’m finally making steady progress on all the shit I want need to get done.

I’ll make sure to take before & after screenshots. And once I figure out a system that works, I’ll write a tutorial on it because I know that every struggling creative needs this.

If you want to dive into this yourself, I’m kicking things off with this article on GTD & Todoist. Note that currently I don’t use labels or filters at all, but it looks like they can be game-changers.


What I’m reading

Amongst my guilt-free movie & show watching, I’ve kept up on my reading.

  • Spill Zone Book 2: The Broken Vow by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland: I totally forgot to mention that I read the first book a few weeks (months?) ago. It’s a neat sci-fi-ish story about a girl & her sister and the aftermath of hard-to-explain stuff that orphaned them. It includes some light global politics that’s adds the it could happen realism that I enjoy so much.
  • Lon Chaney Speaks by Pat Dorian: a fun, factionalized biography of the Man of 1000 Faces, silent film star Lon Chaney (not to be confused with his son, who played The Wolfman and other roles in talkies – and whose birth name was ‘Creighton’ and not Lon Jr). I loved monster movies as a kid and read as many books as I could find about them – and that’s how I learned about Lon Chaney the elder. Memoirs and biographies are basically the reality tv of the comic world, it’s hard to read them and not be entertained. I also dug the synopses of his films, an idea I will have to steal for my graphic memoir to share my favorite Bollywood movies.


That’s all folks! Lots of guilt-free media to share with y’all this week.

Once I get Todoist organized, my next thing will be a proper social media plan (something I hope will be replicable for other comic creators). I might loathe algorithms but man do I want to increase my fan base (that sounds so much better than ‘followers’).

You might have also noticed that I tried to make my copy more scannable this week by holding relevant text here and there. (Or maybe that’s just an excuse to make sure you know about Nic Cage’s rooftop sex.)

What’s the most impactful thing you’ve read or watched this week?

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