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Tag Archives: Bad habits

A big habit of producers is to always be working on your #1 priority – to always tackle your #1 priority first.  I’m trying, as an “experiment,” to do this for one week: first thing in the morning, to work for an hour on my #1 priority before doing anything else, even (especially) email, Facebook or web comics.  Of course, I want to do it for the rest of my life, not just for one week.  But: one step at a time.

Progress so far:

Thursday – Had an off-site meeting all day.  Didn’t count.

Friday – Success!  Worked 9am-10am on my #1 priority, before doing anything else – yay!  But then I goofed off for a couple hours.  Over-all a productive day, but not perfect.

Today – Fail.  I spent an hour on web comics before getting down to work.  Actually, before exercising and reviewing my goals and whys, which was part of the problem.  The other part of the problem is that I’m short on sleep.  I read recently that, when under stress (I think lack of rest counts), we default to habitual behaviours.  Unfortunately, my habits are unproductive ones.

Also, I guess I was procrastinating because my #1 priority today was sales calls, and I hate doing sales.

Lessons:

  • It’s really important that i get enough sleep!
  • I have to be extra careful of my bad habits on days when I’m not fully rested.  No excuses!
  • Once I replace my bad habits with good ones, my productivity won’t be so dependent on sleep.
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When my work habits get really bad and I reach a crisis point, I address my procrastination directly: I read a book, or re-read my notes or my blog or something.  And I take action against my procrastination directly: I institute some new plan or daily ritual to keep myself on track.

It works for a while.  But I eventually stop.  And then my work habits get worse.  Rinse and repeat.

Why do I stop with the tactics that keep me on track?  Because, when I’m being productive, I think: “I have so much work to do, I can’t spare the time to do my anti-procrastination thing today.  And anyway, ‘I’m cured,’ I don’t need to keep doing it”.  WRONG.  I have to remember that this thought is always wrong.

Recovering alcoholics call themselves “recovering alcoholics” forever after.  They never say “I used to be an alcoholic,” no matter how many years it’s been since they last got drunk.  They never say “I’m cured.”

I should think of procrastination the same way.

Why am I procrastinating like a bastard today?

  • got woken up in the middle of the night last night, didn’t get back to sleep.  So, a bit sleep deprived.  It has been shown in scientific studies that we have less willpower when we’re fatigued.  That goes for everything from goofing off to resisting junk food.
  • I’m at the start of two big, messy projects.  They’ve been hard to break down into digestible tasks.  So I’m dreading working on those.
  • Some non-work things came in on the email today, but I’m sure I could have resisted those til later if not for #1 and #2.
  • I have recently upped my daily productivity goal, and I’m finding it hard to achieve.  In fact I haven’t achieved it yet (today is day-3).  I have probably set the bar too high.  Baby steps.

Ok, its 2:00, I can still get a fair chunk of work done today.

Oh damn, the AC repair guy has just arrived…

-J

Lately I have set an absolute requirement for myself to get a minimum of 2 hours of project work done per day – and no cheating.  Sounds easy, right?  Trying to achieve this has been a real learning experience.

  • Every day since starting this challenge, I have completed my first 20 minutes of project work at 3:20pm.  Yes, I am doing all 2 hours of project work in the last 2 hours of the work day.  Despite trying to get started by mid-morning.
  • The only way I can focus for 20 minutes in a row is to close my email apps.  Even the one for my business email.

My work habits have definitely gotten worse in the past 6 months.  I need to put the training wheels back on and re-learn (again) how to make my days productive.

At least I’m getting in those 2 hours per day, and that’s a start.

-J

It’s not just procrastination. I’m also an internet addict, info-tainment junkie, whatever you want to call it. Even on weekends when I have nothing stressful to do, I’m drawn to the email, the Facebook, the blogs.

I’ve been focusing on my procrastinating tendencies, and I’ve been half-successful. At this point, my biggest barrier to success is my constant need for web-borne entertainment and screen-mediated social interactions.

Hypothesis: It’s not just procrastination. In order to make progress on my work habits, I need to address internet addiction.

Is “Internet Addiction” real?

Read More »

I’ve been all over the place lately, I need to check in with the local chapter of Procrastinators Anonymous.  That’s me and you.  This meeting shall now come to order.

What have I learned?  That:

  • when I stop using the timer and filling in the Unschedule, my work habits and productivity suffer precipitously.
  • I procrastinate when a project hits an unexpected road block, when a difficult decision is required, or when I discover that more work than I had planned on is required.
  • When “important” non-work things (like blogging about election issues) creep into my work day, they quickly become permanent additions to my routine (because they’re more fun than real work) and take up increasingly more of my time.
  • When I “fall off the wagon,” I can’t expect to just snap back to the level of productivity that I had attained before, I may have to start again at the beginning and work my way back up.
  • If I spend my “work” and “guilt-free play” periods all at the computer without getting up, I get lethargic and dopey and lose the will to be productive.  No matter what my guilt-free play entails, I should get up and re-invigorate myself every 30mins or so!
  • Daily exercise is great for avoiding headaches and getting quality sleep.
  • BEFORE I sit down at the computer, I should decide what I’m here to DO, and then start the timer (even for play).  Otherwise, I can waste hours on email, FB, newspaper sites and websurfing before I even look at my to-do list.
  • Important personal projects, if I’m going to get them done, should switch between “guilt-free play” activities and “work” activities depending on my level of enthusiasm/procrastination for them.  Most personal projects start out as the former and morph into the latter before completion.
Further thoughts:

  • When “important” non-work things come up and have to be done in the work day, I should treat them as either work or guilt-free play: in either case, using the timer, and taking care to balance priorities.  This will allow me to maintain those good habits, and not accidentally vasta the diem.  😉
-J