Time to get real here again, kiddies.
Alright, so the last time I wrote was more speaking into the universe with conviction, stating my intention to ‘get better’. Cool. I also specifically noted my work ethic, motivation and attitude as in need of specific changes. Also, a very cool, noble and a realistic assessment of what’s going on. One thing tends to feed the other. The poorer my work ethic gets, the less I feel like I deserve to have good things in my life, and the more funereal my face and demeanor appears. I absolutely think that changing these aspects of my life would result in the single biggest thing I’ve done in my life, except perhaps… y’know… getting married and being born and stuff.
…but what does that actually look like? GREAT QUESTION, inner self. Fortunately I have the presence of mind to go out and get a book or something in order to help me along in this way (and it’s actually shockingly good, without being overly cheesy).
I think something that has been chronically present throughout my life is the urge to procrastinate.
[/flashback to 2001]
I have two weeks to finish this assignment that should only take me half an hour. Great. Time to play some Counterstrike 1.3.
I have [14-t] days to finish this assignment that should only take me half an hour. Great. Time to play some Counterstrike 1.3.
Holy shit where did the past two weeks go? Now all I have is 4 hours to finish this assignment that should only take me half an hour? Maybe I should play 3.5 hours of Counterstrike 1.3 in order to calm my nerves about this. Man, life is so stressful.
***Apocalyptic melt-down, followed by massive Counterstrike 1.3 session to get over that meltdown***
So how to interrupt this vicious cycle? (for those who are following along in that book I mentioned earlier there’s lots of great stuff in Chapters 18 & 19, but here’s a brief summary of the stuff that’s resonated with me:
- Identify how you procrastinate: Is it Facebook? Video games? Distractions? At what stage in your work do you lose focus and decide it’d be easier (in the moment) to do something else?
For me, when I’m at work it’s social media (reddit, discord, twitter, and recently this blog admittedly). I tend to lose focus when my computer takes too long to load a document (like, a half second. seriously.) or there’s a task that’s about as appetizing as pulling teeth in front of me. Often that arises when the client for that particular job is being extremely difficult (you ever notice how you’ll bend over backwards to get stuff done for a good client, but you couldn’t care less about bad ones?)
When I’m hobbying, I tend to freeze up when something isn’t going to look how I envisioned it, or I perceive that I lack the skill to go in and do something. The result is I turn my chair 90 degrees and play video games instead. Because video games are an escape, I tend to feel less good about playing them than I do spending the same time hobbying (see later).
- PUSH STRAIGHT THROUGH. Seriously get hip deep in there and get it done. Remember that DONE is better than PERFECT. You won’t ever get the latter without obtaining the first! (How can it ever be perfect if it isn’t done?)
It’s worthwhile learning strategies that help you defeat the ‘easier path’ of the procrastination mechanism.
When I’m at work, I pump up the jams, put my headphones on, turn off my e-mail, close my web browser, and enable “Technologic Protocols.” I’m one with the machine spirits at that point, and nothing will wake me, not even a particularly needy client. They can wait their turn.
When I’m hobbying, I’ve been trying to finish individual projects one at a time before moving on to the next. This prevents the log-jam that can lead to a potentially ‘overwhelming’ scenario. Looking at an individual miniature is a lot less overwhelming than that entire ‘shelf of shame’. Also, I need to relax and trust the process. I don’t need to be some golden daemon winner in order to drybrush the shit out of a monstrous creature. Get in there and git’er’done! I’ll feel awesome!
- Punching through the catatonic state of being ‘overwhelmed’ can be easier with better time management skills. A lot can be written here, but the single biggest thing that’s helped me in this regard is that I’ve been treating time as a commodity.
“I don’t have time” usually amounts to simply allocating time poorly in those cheap easy ways out. The time is there, you just have to use it to further your goal more efficiently. If it’s really important to you, make the time. You’ll find when you make the time you’re more efficient with it.
“I’m too busy” usually means you’ve got to prioritize the most important things first. “What needs to happen right now? What can wait? Can you delegate the smaller stuff to someone else?” There’s always more work to do, so ‘Do what you can in joy, instead of trying to do it all in misery.’
‘If you act like time isn’t important, that it’s full worth wasting and disrespecting… you’re going to have a hard time getting it.’
In all seriousness, I have never respected time more than since little Leviathan (he who hungers!) came into our home. I’ve had to adjust my sleeping schedule to match his (if you don’t sleep when he sleeps you’re gonna have a bad time). During waking hours you don’t begrudge the time you’re looking after him because… Well… he’s a babby and needs help doing everything! Other priorities include the necessities – cleaning the kitchen, making sure the laundry is done, pets are looked after, floor is vacuumed and that I’m in good standing at the office… After all that I might still have an hour or two at the end of the day.
How crazy is that? That’s more time at the end of the day than when I would spend 4-6 hours at night ‘decompressing’ playing pixel-boats after a ‘hard’ day at the office, and I feel a lot better in general.
In addition with that hour or two, I’ve been getting a lot of hobby done! More than I’ve done previously!