Wednesday, February 15, 2017

No Productivity Here

I recently put the Pocket app on my phone because I was hoping I'd be able to use it to find quality longform articles that I could bookmark and read when I'm doing stupid time wasting things I can't avoid like waiting for my tires to be rotated. I gave up on the Longform app because, at least the Android version is crap.  When I first "joined" Pocket, I just clicked on follow all the recommended feeds because, you know, whatever, and I was instantly dismayed to find that about half of all the articles posted are about "productivity." 

Listen, here's the secret to my productivity: put lots of shit on my calendar. If it's on my to-do list and there's a deadline, I'll find a way to get it done. I need to teach three classes, have office hours, drive to Madison, tutor, drive home, work out, and still have time to clean the bathroom?  I will be extra special efficient and everything will get done.  The danger for me is when there's only one thing on my list for the day. In that case, I'll find ways to fritter away the hours until I'm frantic because I'm running out of time to do the thing that I had all day to do.  I'm about a week behind in grading right now because on my two "light" days that I had in mind I would spent big chunks grading, I never actually did the grading because I hate it. So Friday morning I'll have to sit in my office and grade because that's the deadline I set by telling my students the grading would be done by then.

Anyway, this is all buildup to say that I resent all the "productivity" articles that essentially tell me to stop checking my social media and email. Fuck off, I'm a grown ass adult who knows this.

But, just for the record, I AM innately lazy and here are three of my tricks in my own personal war to fighting off procrastination and sloth. Not a single one involves turning off the internet or television.

1) 30 second rule: If it's going to take less than 30 seconds, just do it right now.  I don't WANT to file that stupid bank statement/EOB/tax document, but it doesn't actually take that long, so just do it as soon as it comes in the house. Since I have very little concept of how long 30 seconds actually is, I frequently end up doing chores that actually take minutes because I thought it would be quicker, but overall this prevents the little chores from building up into gargantuan tasks.

2) Write it down: If I really want to prioritize something, I need a written record of it.  This year, I'm focusing on about a dozen items and every evening I sit down with a spreadsheet and record my progress on those items. It really makes me realize that sometimes my priorities don't match how I spend my time and I then have to change my behavior to be the person I want to be. That sounds vaguely self-helpy and dumb, but there you have it. A daily reminder that I'm behind in X, Y, or Z will weigh on me until I address it. 

3) Tell someone else: I'm incredibly externally motivated and, as a people pleaser, I will do my best not to let someone down by missing a deadline. That's why I told my students when the grading would be done in my earlier example.  If I set my own internal deadline, it will probably never get done. But knowing that people are counting on me to get it done means something to me. 

But none of this is news, right? Because this is what adults do? 

Shut up, Pocket.

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