Sunday, November 28, 2010

Procrastination my middle name.

I love to put things off.

I'm pretty good at brainstorming, but I'm even better at roadblocking. If there's a large task ahead of me, I put together the usual detailed list of parts of this task that need to be accomplished. A, B, C, D, E. Very nice and productive, right?

The logical thing to do is A, right? But my brain isn't content with that. It has to analyze all five steps. And it turns out that there's a problem with D, you see. There's a decision I have to make, and I'm awful at decisions. So I put it on the backburner, hoping that it will marinate in my brain for a little while and I'll come up with a solution.

Then I start working on A, and I might do little bits of C, and then I discover (while working on E) that E has an issue. And D still has an unresolved issue. And I get fed up because no solution has presented itself, and then I just give up. And just before the deadline, I do all five steps, and it's not what I had hoped for and then I'm really fed up.

Seriously. You should have seen what I did in college. I took a directed study class, which is basically one where you pick a project and present a 20 page paper at the end of the semester. No classes to attend or anything like that. What did I do? Oh, I picked a topic, did some research, and then started the paper...the night before it was due.

Yes, you read that correctly. I'd done it before with 5 page papers. But a 20 page paper? Full bibliography? Well, I typed like a demon (on my manual typewriter, no less) and somehow managed it, getting a page per hour put together. It was awful, but because I Had To Do It, I did. It was astonishing that I got an A.

Over the years, though, I've started trying to develop ways to get around the brain issues. I am ruled by my contrary nature, as well; sometimes I "just don't wanna." And I don't.

So I found this blog article, and it has so much good advice: The Complete Flake's Guide To Getting Things Done. And it really spoke to me about how things get done, and why they don't get done, and what I can do to get things done. It was really interesting.

This article just reinforces the idea that my brain doesn't go about things in a normal, logical, adult manner. It flickers back and forth, it gets excited by something shiny, and if it doesn't understand or just doesn't wanna then nothing goes forward. I have had to develop techniques to get things done.

I have a pegboard in my head which is marked with Things I Absolutely Must Do. Things like taxes and mailing bills. It's hard to get my brain to agree to add new things, but sometimes it works, and I've experimentally added a few things like blogging and tweeting.

I also am trying to master the art of deflection. When I don't want to do one thing, I'll often pick up another task which really has to be done (but not at that minute) and do that instead. I try to use deflection to actually get things done now. It doesn't always work the way I want it to, but I've had more productivity as of late.

Productivity is a cycle, I've noticed. There are months of the year where I get very little done; there are months of the year where I get lots done. I've noticed that there are crashing points for me, where I've done a lot and I just don't wanna do anything else, and I think I need to take breaks occasionally so I don't crash.

Overall, I'm in a high productivity phase right now. I've done more in the past four months than I have in ages, and I feel like I'm establishing a new rhythm. I'm enjoying it, too. And the more productive I am, the more productive I want to be.

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