Note: I wrote this piece several months ago, before I had a regular, full-time job.
I have, at various points in my life, struggled with procrastination; the ‘ehh, I’ll get to it’ shuffle of dealing with things later, maybe, someday. My todo has those lingering immortals, those tasks that have been staring at me for weeks that I keep putting off.
During my college career it was a horrendous problem, but nowadays it’s ebbed until -at its worst- it’s simply something that will ambush an unwary afternoon if I’m not careful.
I have so much I want to do and in most cases the next step is clear; yet sometimes it’s simply easier not to do the worthwhile things. I used to write off this behavior as an artifact of related to being tasked with scholastic busy-work that didn’t mean anything to me. But, it’s not just that; that’s an excuse that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. I also delay some of the important work, the essential work; the work that I claim means so much to me.
Lauren and my schedules work like this; every day, she takes Ellie for three hours so I can work uninterrupted in the morning and then I take Ellie three hours in the afternoon so she can do the same. We snatch at other moments amidst naps, after bedtime, and when our daughter is otherwise preoccupied. Since demoing this schedule, it’s served is an incredibly productive arrangement; the clock ticking sprint of knowing that a three hour block is literally all you’re guaranteed focuses me and gets me moving with a minimum amount of fuss. Today however I floundered; caught up on Rick and Morty, poked around on Reddit, and played some Sonic Spinball. And there is no procrastination so terrible as morning, first-thing procrastination.
More to the point, there is nothing so dangerous about procrastination as the desire to obscure it. For now, the reality that I work for myself full-time makes it seductive to greet the world as unflappable cheerleader-booster of my own output. And as a creative it’s so simple to lie about your progress in a project, about the hours you actually put in. Which is why I’m writing this, to be honest with myself that I don’t always do the things I said I was going to.
The greatest (and stupidest) trick I know is this: when procrastinating on writing, I delude myself that I don’t actually have to write, I just need to sit in front of the computer with the word processor open without distraction. If I can get myself into the position and situation where the work will happen usually dumb habit takes over and I just start doing it anyway without any more need to compel myself. It’s like walking; I don’t consciously think about every step I take, I just focus on the destination, make sure there’s nothing on the floor that’s going to trip me and my feet know enough to do the rest.
As a matter of fact, using this trick is how I wrote this essay. I fear it’s not my best, but it’s better than my hypothetical best: it’s done.