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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.  😉

I seem to have gotten my procrastination cycle down to about 1 day, in most cases.   I.e. if I piss away the morning, I realize what I’m doing and I get back on track by the afternoon. This process used to be weeks long. I think, rather than trying to eliminate procrastination altogether (unrealistic?), keeping the cycle time down to less than a day is a good goal.  And not having to deal with it every day, of course.

The short version is that I have encountered a number of irrational clients over the last few months. This is my big realization. See, it reminds me of my father who from one day to the next could be proud of me, or pissed at me.

No matter what I did, he was unhappy. So too with these clients. Even though I did a good job, they weren’t happy or acted irrationally. That threw me off and made me less interested in working.

Why bother doing a good job – or any job – if people are just going to be pissed or stupid about it?

The income goal and the sense of value I get from knowing FOR MYSELF that I’m doing good work is what is getting me back into things. It’s a difficult lesson for me not to let other people’s ability to be an ass-hat affect me.

“D” muses on the causes of his recent bout with procrastination, and how he is getting back into the swing of things.
Great insights, thanks for sharing!

-Johnny 0.