My own sort of procrastination
I was going to write this article over the winter break, but I’m typing these words on January 19th, and am still happy with this result. Why? Because a year ago, I wouldn’t have finished it at all. But, thanks to New Year resolutions, I finally categorized the best methods to get the job done and started to use them in a real life.
As a disclaimer, I believe that 9 times out of 10 procrastination is a bad thing that swallows your resources, emotions and leave a bitter feeling of worthlessness. However, somebody suggests calling it “investigation,” “exploration” or “inspiration.” In my life I never gave birth to a new idea surfing buzzfeed.com. But I came up with something new late at night, and luckily jotted ideas into a notebook behind the headboard.
It seems that this problem became much more common with the diffusion of the broadband Internet. Never before has procrastination been so comfortable, fast, and close to your finger tips. Because the information flow in the Internet never ends (unlike that in a newspaper, magazine or even a TV show), you can effortlessly waste hours of your life in a moment. A decade ago you had to get up, go to a different room, grab a book, come back and redo this consequence of actions once again later. Nowadays, the Netflix app sits next to iTunes.
First, I decided to disconnect from my major distracters. I usually have 2 browsers open, Chrome with different pages, including Facebook, and Firefox for my studying matters with the school email account. Luckily, I logged into all social networks only in Chrome, and I don’t remember passwords. I just close Chrome – for some reason I can handle the pressure of opening an application, but cannot handle that of just pushing Command-Tab. Ultimately, I should close Firefox as well, but I am in love with thesaurus.com.
Second, I turn “Airport mode” on on my phone. Because of the well-established culture of leaving voice messages, I am not afraid of missing an important call. Voila, no more Instagram and Pinterest! Recently, the switch button on the iPhone stopped working: to turn it on I have to find a charger and plug the phone in. “What a headache,” – you might exclaim. “What an additional challenge to my distracters,” – I confess.
Third, I am strongly convinced that morning persons are better people. If you are not an early-riser, please switch your biological clocks ASAP. It might be harmful for a couple of weeks, but later you will return thanks to me. Also, almost every professional athlete did it at some point of time, so it is definitely possible. Once you are ready to make things happen, do the most terrible, hard and unpleasant assignment of the day. Not only will it free your day, leaving with snazzy itsy-bitsy things, but will give a delightful feeling that you have accomplished something noticeable. It is some sort of rewarding yourself. An additional bonus is that you will either be surrounded with people sharing the same attitude or will be working on your own in an empty office or gym. The whole office and athletic environment in the US allows for that. Weight rooms are open at 5am, most companies allow flexible schedules, and you can work 7am-3pm, for example.
Fourth, I have encountered a lot of people that get distracted by… food. Yes, every 30 minutes they run to the kitchen to check what they have in the fridge or to grab a snack. It creates problems not only for their job, but also for a waistline. The easiest thing is not do stuff at home. In my first year at business school, I lived in an apartment without Internet (I just saved money) and survived. I spent a lot of time in the school’s library far away from nuts, strawberry jam and cranberry juice. I took only apples, Gatorade or protein bars with me knowing exactly how much I was going to eat and that it would take only few minutes. As an additional perk, my electricity bills in November and December of 2013 (and I live in Michigan; it means rain, cold and snow) were about $11-14 per month. Nobody believes it is true, but it is.
The whole method that works for me is not trying to fight procrastination, but leaving no opportunities for it to bite off your time. It is like being drug-addicted but not buying drugs instead of curing yourself. At the first sight, it might sound stupid. But here a HABIT comes in. There is a lot of controversy out there how much time exactly it takes to create a habit, but all researchers conclude that it can be created. And the most important thing here is that once you start doing something automatically, it becomes a part of you, and it feels natural to focus on the text you write, to do all the reps you planned in a gym or not to update Twitter every 15 minutes.
P.S. I typed this article in iA Writer, and the only thing I distracted on was googling “iA Writer and competitors.”
P.P.S. I want this article to become the last one you ever read about procrastination, as it can become a part of nature as well.