The (anti) Procrastination Diaries

Finding the ways to fill the time

Breaking the chain

Procrastination is a big problem for me.

When there are solid, tangible consequences, like, an awful, awkward silence in front of 30 kindergarten aged children (ends nowhere good), I can work my arse off, so I think I was a pretty decent, or at least productive (scared), ESL teacher.

But it’s harder to sit down and work at my fluency in Japanese or at lengthening the word count on my scifi story because the progress in those two areas is so incremental, that it’s only when I look back over a period of years that I realise, hey, I can string together a comprehensible sentence in Japanese now, (the story never gets much longer, I switch projects a lot… A.D.D ><).

So once, when browsing the net, full of self-loathing, I plugged ‘anti-procrastination app’ into Google. It’s not surprise really that other people have had this same problem and thought, maybe I can turn the beast on itself and use the internet to help me.

I tried Leechblock, one of the highly recommendeds, and couldn’t get it to work properly. It never blocked me when I need blocking, but, months later, when I had forgotten I even downloaded the bloody thing, decided suddenly to lock down my entire browser while also cleverly  restricting access to the ‘delete app’ option.

David Xia takes a different tack: he charted his Netflix usage, along with photoshopped justifications. Though by his description of all the work that went into the project, I think this may have been another exercise in time-wastage. However, it inspired me to consider graphing.

To reduce my workload, I checked the program RescueTime, which records, from your desktop, how much time is spent on what site. For a monthly $6 fee they provide a feature called, “Focus Time” which blocks the worst distractions for a period of 30 odd minutes.

Problem is, apart from my cheapness, I use multiple computers, and consolidating all the times graphed would end up wasting more of my life, ala David Xia, than rescuing it.

The graphing idea still had merit though. I think the real death of procrastination will come, not from all the blocking and restrictions, but from the construction of solid habits.

Time for some personal responsibility. Time to go manual.

Google docs has a handy spreadsheet tool. I input four columns: Japanese, fiction writing, blogging and TV watching along with the time in minutes I spend on each per day.

One bar graph shows the time logged daily and another pie chart (tasty) shows the percentage of time of I spend on each.

This month's time usage

A nice visual on the day to day

A sadly skewed pie chart

I really should have posted this before the 22nd, when my pie chart was much more evenly divided and there were less zeroes in my graph, but I moved house this week and only had enough energy to watch TV (and since studies have suggested watching TV is similar to sleeping maybe that’s why).

I think the experiment has been a good one, and something I will continue with. I get nerdy enjoyment from graphing and seeing the results and seeing how anorexic my fiction writing time is pushes me to sit down and focus on that more per day. I’ve recently given up on Downton Abbey in annoyance, so hopefully TV watching will reduce, but the second season of Game of Thrones has begun, and the Daily show is, well, daily.

I don’t know whether going to the extent of timing and graphing ALL of my daily activities, like eating, sleeping, browsing the internet, would be useful or overkill. For the sake of data it might be interesting, but to prod me into production, I think the current model works.

Charlie is so cool like  gave me the name for today’s blog. He is another creative person struggling against the lure of the internet and attempting to produce something (he produces some stellar stuff too). His method is a calendar for each of his activities that he wants to devote time, at least 30 minutes per day, too. After the 30 minute mark has been reached, he can safely cross off the day, creating a neat little line, or chain, of crosses THAT MUST NOT BE BROKEN.

I’d love to read about other people’s ways of beating procrastination and after that, I think it’s about time you got back to work! ^^


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