In high school, I was on a robotics team (FRC) who, in honesty, were basically incompetent. (Me included.) We were bad at building a robot, bad at programming it, bad at design, but most relevantly for this post bad at planning ahead.
The particular instance which added a term to my internal monologue was this: We needed to cut slots in some aluminum in order to do...something, I don't remember what. It needed to be about a foot long, so it clearly was worth getting a dedicated tool - I forget what that was, probably a jigsaw. But we didn't have one and it was going to take a week or so to arrive.
What we did have, was a dremel tool. Dremels are small, portable grinders, usable for many things but rarely the best tool for the job. Using a dremel as a slot cutter is workable, but inefficient; it quickly ruins the bit and takes a long time. Nonetheless, despite knowing that the job could be done much more quickly and efficiently if they waited a week, people on our team repeatedly returned to dremeling the slots.
I think this is a common pattern. It's similar to the politician's syllogism ("Something must be done. This is something. Therefore, this must be done."), and to Lost Purposes, but distinct. "Dremeling" is the act of doing something you know is a bad way to attack the problem, and probably a waste of time, because it moves you incrementally towards the goal, and you can't do anything more helpful right now.
There are better ways; you know there are better ways and have at least a pretty good idea of what they are and how you could switch to one of those ways. But, in the moment, the better ways are unavailable and the bad way is available. And so you do the (dumb, wasteful, barely-helpful) thing you can do right now, because it will technically make progress.
Why does this happen? Well, not doing anything is uncomfortable. It often feels like failure. If others see you not doing anything, it may open you up to shame; at the national scale this is the politician's syllogism, but the politics of a peer group are just as terrifying - and probably more terrifying - than the party politics of a large polity.
So, as we learn from (Brooks, Reiner, 1975), it stems from fear.