Last minutes work that needs to be done, the last thing I need to worry about is procrastination. At many moments in our lives, we have all been victims of procrastination. Maybe the word ‘victims’ is too dramatic, but if you’ve ever found yourself fortunate to have two sentences written across what would’ve otherwise have been a blank screen at the end of a nine hour work day, then you know how harrowing of a chore dealing with procrastination can be.
As I sit at my desk looking out of the window formulating my ideas, thinking of the next sentence to write, it’s easy to let my mind drift on all of the activity happening outside. It is important to keep one’s distractions at a minimum is key. For example, I look down onto the street and see two men sitting on a park bench having a polite conversation, each sipping from paper cups and one rolling up a newspaper and stuffing it into his back pocket. I look at them very quickly, acknowledge them, and then turn back to my keyboard.
Time to work.
In order to keep procrastination at bay, it’s important to remain focused at the task at hand. For example, there is a squirrel running along a branch in front of my window. My initial reaction should be to ignore it, but as the procrastination bug crawls in to my mind, all I can think about is if it the animal is hungry. Maybe it’s carrying some nuts in its mouth that I haven’t seen. I don’t know. Maybe I should check. Just look really quickly to see what it has in its mouth. Oh, my mistake! It’s nothing. I thought it may have had a nut or something. I love squirrels. Poor thing. It must have been searching all morning for something to eat. It must be hungry. I’ll just break this toast into little pieces for it. It’s not like I need more bread anyway. Two months into this diet and I’m only losing patience. I envy squirrels. They just get up, do their thing, and go about their lives without any need for schedules or time. They don’t worry or fret about life. But, that is neither here nor there.
My focus is back on my laptop.
But, that’s okay. For inspiration, I’ll sip some coffee that I made five minutes ago and that is now as cold as an ice cube. I’ll just heat it up really quickly in the microwave. Two minutes should be enough. As a matter of fact, I do feel a little bit hungry. Lunch is in four hours, plenty of time for a snack. Hmm. Something simple. A rice cake with American cheese, some grapes, a handful of almonds. But, that’s too many carbs. Don’t want to fall asleep in the middle of work! I’ll grab some carrot sticks. Some ranch dressing for dip. It’s okay. I’ll just have a light lunch later.
Back at my desk. An hour has gone by already. That’s the thing about procrastination. Ten minutes will feel like one minute and then it’s an hour later and you can’t seem to remember what you were doing all of that time. What I like to do is to set the alarm on my cell phone to ring when one hour has passed so that I don’t feel too pressured to remain productive. Make sure to turn off any alerts relating to text messages or social media. For example, my friend just sent me a video she took while she’s on vacation. It’s only two minutes, but in two minutes, I could think up a brilliant idea that would otherwise be lost if I watched the video.
What a beautiful garden. I’ve never seen so many colorful flowers, gold and indigo and crimson colored. Look at that little stand where a man is serving thick cuts of watermelon and pouring sticky syrup onto shaved ice. I forget that it’s still quite warm there. They look so happy to be there, amongst all of the other happy couples. She looks so relaxed and he looks so dapper. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her wear a dress before. The nighttime seems so busy, no doubt they have plenty to do! They’re at some kind of festival, there’s a parade, and a marching band. The floats are covered in flowers and from them they are throwing confetti and little candies for the children to grab from the street. Look at her dancing! A beautiful light pink dress with a cream colored shawl, he in a white suit and gold tie. They look like something out of a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. She looks so youthful and pretty. The sunshine and warm weather suits her.
I’d love a vacation.
If you get a little distracted, sometimes it’s okay to forgo those few minutes lost, as long as you ad work straight through the rest of the hour. I mean, it’s better if you can work for an hour straight, because it makes you feel more accomplished because you’re able to do so without distraction.
Sometimes, I like to work with a little music in the background. I’ll often play the classical music station, nothing to distraction, but just enough to keep my mind alert and active. I have my own classical music playlist; Chopin, Bach. I love Beethoven and Mozart, but I find that their pieces too rousing when I write, similar to listening to rock music during meditation. But, I’ve changed my mind and feel in the mood for some jazz. I pop in some Miles Davis, Some Kinda Blue. Great music to keep your mood up. Also, I always find myself just cranking out pages and pages of material whenever I listen to Miles Davis. but see, the thing about living in the city, in particular working in an open office environment, is that once one person starts playing music it becomes like a trigger for the other work neighbors to play music as well. But, it becomes like a contest; who can play the loudest most annoying music in the world. And for hours. With no regard for anyone else who might be.
Sure, it’s best to try wearing headphones, but when the neighbor is playing Migos and has their stereo cranked to eleven, your headphones might as well be made of paper held together by dog shit. Just useless.
I like to try at a minimum of 500-1000 words per hour. Sometimes, I like to see how many sentences I can write in one minute. Play little fun games like this with yourself to keep your mind focused on your work. Right now, I have written fourteen sentences in under five minutes.
Sometimes, in order to get your work done, you might have to remain secluded from your family and friends. Because it’s all in earnest, there really should be no fear of becoming reclusive. It’s still good to call your friends and family for a random short chat, and aside from going to work and doing typical errands, it’s best to avoid as many activities as possible, especially if you’re in a time crunch. And there will be times, it’ll seem like you might go crazy with all of that time spent alone. Your mind will wander often on all of the things you think you should be doing. You’ll convinced yourself that your work is less important that these random ass chores that’ll suddenly pop into your head; sorting the dishes in the cabinet, taking out the trash when there’s only an apple core in the bin, dusting the plants. But it’s just procrastination wanting you ditch your work for a few hours of play.
Wait—what if you g’re constantly distracted by a group of loud idiots outside shouting and jeering and laughing at nothing? Well, that means that it’s probably lunchtime. Time to take a break. Another way to curb procrastination is to plan your meals ahead of time. I like to make a week’s worth of salads so that I can pull one right out of the fridge at lunchtime, and I always stock up on a few healthy snacks and fruit to curb cravings.
But sometimes, you may find yourself craving something else, a sandwich perhaps or a more prepared meal. If you have few groceries to prepare your meal, then you might need to go to the market or deli. Another idea would be to call for takeout. Here, it’s best to keep a collection of takeout menus handy. Thai and Mexican food is very popular in my area, and they have gluten free options, so I’ll order some vegetable soup. It comes in twenty minutes and I use it to edit my work.
Afterwards I take my lunch outside and sit in the courtyard and enjoy the sun. It is cold and dim inside the apartment, but sunny in the courtyard. An older gentleman sits next to me, drinking a can of orange soda. He says hello, and starts talking about the weather.
“I have a daughter that lives in Atlanta,” she says. “Says it’s still seventy degrees there. This global warming thing is something else!”
If you find yourself short for time at lunch and caught up in a conversation, be polite. You never know when the person in front of you has gone a very long time without friendly conversation. And anyway, sometimes, procrastination can bring about great experiences. You can meet some of the best people, the kindest individuals. I talk to him for a little over a half an hour, going over the time allotted for my lunch break. In this case, it may mean setting aside two hours for lunch instead of one next time.
I return to the office and the janitor is sweeping the steps. He nods and then says hello, and too, attempts to have a conversation with me about the weather!
“Quite windy out.”
But I nod and then wish him a nice day as I have a lot of work to do.
Soon I’m back at my the office.
I scoot up to my desk, press the little silver button on my laptop, Six hours has passed and a whole three hours work is stretched out before me. I feel good. I feel productive and with the food in me, I feel energetic and keen. My work is my only priority.
I will finish today, I saw in fact, fuck it, I’ll even finish tomorrow’s work four days ahead schedule!
Because I’m a machine!
Because I’m a badass!
And then I look at the screen…and see that I’ve only written the same fourteen lines from six hours before.
Dammit, screw it.
I’m just going to sit back and pour myself a glass of grapefruit flavored sparkling water and congratulate myself on another productive day.
Cheers bitch. Good job.
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