Productive Procrastination: Just Go With It

Hello, hello!  It’s been a slow couple of weeks writing-wise.  I’ve been re-reading Garnets and Guardians in preparation for another round of edits (it really shouldn’t have taken me two weeks to get through it, but I was lazy and not so productively procrastinating).  At the same time, Dad was doing a deep clean of the house and, when it came down to the last room or so, he started doing everything except cleaning what he said he was going to (he did the laundry, ran errands, put knobs and pulls on some cabinets and drawers, etc.).  When I picked on him for procrastinating, he denied it because he was doing things that needed to be done.  That’s exactly what productive procrastination is: doing things that need to be done eventually instead of what you’re supposed to be doing.  Apparently we all do it, not just writers.  I felt much better about myself when I realized that.

everyone-poops
It’s kind of like when you realize everyone poops.  You’re not a freak anymore.  And yes, this is a real children’s book.

 I know writers who clean their house or run errands or answer emails when they’re supposed to be writing.  I tidy up my computer files when I’m desperate to avoid writing.  I also volunteer to read for people when I’m looking for a break.  There are all kinds of ways to avoid what you’re supposed to be doing when you have other stuff to focus on.  I know some people who keep busy by working on a short story or two instead of the novel they’re in the middle of writing.  I’m supposed to start edits on G&G today, but I might just write a ten minute play instead.  Sometimes, the brain insists you do something else.  That’s okay.

Productive procrastination plays two important roles in life.  First, it gives you a well-deserved break while keeping you from feeling guilty for not doing something that needs to be done.  Sitting around and binge watching Netflix instead of writing feels like a no-no, but fold the laundry while you’re doing it and suddenly it’s not so bad.  And second, it gives us the motivation to do all the little things no one really wants to do.  I didn’t really want to do my checkbook the other day, but I didn’t want to read G&G again even more, so guess which one got done first.  It forces us to prioritize things.

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Exactly.

 Eventually, you’ll run out of things that are less painful than whatever you’re supposed to be doing, or you’ll realize you have a deadline looming, and you’ll suck it up and do the thing.  If not, then whatever it was wasn’t that important to you in the first place.  As long as you’re getting something done, take it as a win.  Yeah, I feel guilty when I don’t get my writing or edits or whatever done, but as long as I did something important in its place, I’m happy.  Every task completed during procrastination is one less thing you have to worry about the next day.  Enjoy it.

phd010408s
Embrace the productivity.

Are you a productive procrastinator?  How do you decide when enough is enough and you should do the thing you’re supposed to do?  Is there a method to your procrastination or do you simply do whatever pops to mind first?  Feel free to share your words of advice with us.

See you next week!

Productivity Is Overrated

Hello, hello!  I know I’ve probably posted about feeling unproductive and all of that before, but I can’t find a specific post, so that’s what you’re getting today.  I asked for some blog topic suggestions for today’s post and my friends did not disappoint.  One of them asked “What do you do when you feel unproductive?”  Honestly, it depends on whether or not I’m actually being unproductive.  Just because I feel that way, doesn’t mean that I’m not just being too hard on myself.  So, the first step is to evaluate what I’ve done that day (or week or month or whatever) to decide if I’m being my own worst critic.  Then, I go from there.

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I am quite good at procrastination.

 If it turns out I really am being unproductive for the week (I go by the week because we’re all allowed a day for goofing off here and there), I suck it up and write or edit something or do whatever it is that I need to do.  Sometimes, I have to accept that I’m going to be unproductive in my writing if I have to do extra adulting (doctor’s appointments, the dentist, meetings, etc.) or if I want to go out and have a life or something, but that’s just being productive in different ways.  I have to remember that productivity comes in many different forms.

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That’s how it usually goes.

If I have been productive, I allow myself the chance to take a day off (unless deadlines are involved, then I kill myself with work until I’m done).  If you’ve been working steadily and have kept up with your work, one day of doing nothing isn’t going to hurt you.  It might actually help.  It gives you a chance to breathe and come back to the project rested and ready to look at it in a new light.  Self-care is a very specific type of productivity that seems unproductive to everyone else, but we all do it and we all need it.  If you’re ashamed of taking a day off, call it a “self-care day” and that helps make it feel more like you’re doing something.

 Then again, if I’ve been doing my writing and editing and all of that, but slacking in other areas, I re-prioritize my time for the day.  I read (which I always put on the back burner, sometimes for months) or I adult or I devote time to checking in on friends (not as often as I should) or whatever I’ve been ignoring.  There’s always going to be something I fall behind on.  I have to accept that.

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And that’s when it’s time to start writing again.

 It’s really hard to find a balance where I almost always feel productive.  I’m always slacking on one front or another.  But since I’ve convinced myself that productivity comes in many forms, it’s a little easier (and a lot more complicated, if that makes sense) to know when I’m truly being unproductive.  I think productivity is more about learning to prioritize your time around the things that need to be done.  Sometimes, that will mean cutting back on writing in order to take care of yourself.  And that’s okay.  It’s always going to be a juggling act, and there will be times when you drop a ball or two.  Pick them back up and start again.  Eventually, you’ll learn which ones you can leave off to the side until you’re ready to swap something out with them.  The point is, you keep trying and learning and growing.  That’s the most important thing: keep going.

A Day in the Life

Hello all!  So, I was chatting with the beautiful Danielle Rose, trying to come up with a topic for this week’s post.  She suggested I talk about my routine a little more, even going as far as telling you about my usual day.  In other words, blame her for this.

Graduation selfie with the culprit
Graduation selfie with the culprit

Honestly, today (Tuesday, March 17, 2015) was really hard writing-wise, so I suppose it’s as good a day as any to use.  My daily routine always starts with the hour and a half+ long process of getting out of bed and into a presentable state.  I won’t bore you with the details.  Anyway, I’m usually up and active by 1:30 or so.

At this point, I usually putz around on Facebook and check my personal email and all that fun stuff, or I work on a crossword puzzle.  Today I did all of the above.  I also started playing that stupid trivia game that’s so popular right now.  Trivia Crack?  Whatever.  It’s basically multiple choice Trivial Pursuit.  So, that also took up some time before breakfast.

lesion-clipart-39056-clipart-illustration-of-a-stack-of-five-square-waffles-garnished-with-whipped-cream-maple-syrup-and-berries_450Again, I eat food instead of modeling it.  Breakfast is usually about an hour, and it’s TV time #1 of my day.  Afterwards (around 3:00, 3:30), it’s supposed to be time to work.  Some days go better than others.  Today was not one of those days.

I stared at the page for a few minutes, then said screw it, and gave myself until 4:30 to work on the crossword (that was less than half an hour).  Then I stared at WordPress for a while.  Sometimes, if I write the blog post first, it gets me in my writing rhythm.  That didn’t work.  So, I read through the last chapter I had written, all the way to the point where I had stopped.  Again, this is a technique to get the writing juices flowing.

creativejuices1It kind of worked.  I got down a couple of hundred words, then remembered that I hadn’t posted on my social media author profiles.  I gave myself ten minutes to find something and get it shared, then back to writing.  I got another hundred words down, then took another five minutes break.

Normally, I’m done with my words around 6:00.  Today, dinner rolled around (7:30ish) and I still wasn’t done.  I took the hour break and instead of hanging around for the usual couple of hours of TV, I went back to work.

That was when I hit my stride.  Granted, I ended the day with only 905 words on the novel (it’s over my 900 words goal, so it counts) around 9:30, but I did it.  Then, I came here to write this post (another ~500 words)!

The point is, it took me for-freakin’-ever, but I didn’t give up.  I set my goals and I met them.  You can do it too!  Even with unplanned for distractions last week (babysitting), I managed to meet my goals.  It helps to have people who support you and help you out.  It also helps that I have nothing else to do.  However, look at all the breaks I took!  Maybe writing can be done when you’re avoiding your responsibilities (we all do it, it’s okay).  Take a break, write some words, have fun!

Top 5 Distractions and How Not to Avoid Them

 Welcome!  Last time, I talked a little about creating a writing schedule, so I thought I would discuss distractions a bit.  Now, I know people who swear by eliminating ALL distractions, even if that means cutting off all those fancy electronics they’ve collected over the years.  I’m not one of them.  Personally, I believe in indulging those procrastination itches in moderation.

displayI’m going to go through the top five instances of procrastination (and yes, realizing that that’s what they are is half the battle) I face or hear about , so I can show you what I mean by “moderation.”

1.  Let’s start with the hardest one: Social Media.  Who really goes more than half an hour without checking the Book of Faces or Tweeter or whatever social site is hot that week?  It’s damn near impossible.  I know.  I get those urges, even when I know I’m supposed to be writing.  I don’t suggest going cold turkey.  If you’re anything like me, ignoring the urge only makes you fixate more.  I moderate things by only allowing myself a five minute break when I hit a lull in writing.  Even then, I limit myself to checking my professional accounts or my writing group.  Otherwise, I’d get sucked down the rabbit hole.

down-the-rabbit-hole 2.  The most annoying of all: Calls/texts.  It’s not annoying because of the people (unless they know it’s your writing time and do it anyway), but because we have this weird desire to know who did what when.  Personally, I keep my phone in sight.  I allow myself that half-second glance to see if it’s important.  If it is (it rarely ever is), I respond.  If it’s not, I write on, assured in my knowledge that I’m not missing anything important (aka everyone I know is safe and nothing life-threatening is happening)!

3. Music.  I classify this as a distraction because many people think it is.  I allow it to play while I work.  Once I get into a scene, nothing can really pull me out of it.  If you’re the type to get easily distracted by music, but still want to listen while writing, I suggest instrumentals or something in a language you don’t speak.  That way, you’re less inclined to sing along and lose focus.

GTGKW4. TV Shows.  I rarely get this urge, but I know it pesters a lot of people.  When it does strike during writing hours (or bursts or however you write), if I’m in a lull (always wait for a lull), I let myself look at the episode description and remind myself that watching that episode will be my reward when I’m done doing productive things.

5.  Food and drink breaks.  A lot of people I know sit down to write and are suddenly overwhelmed with hunger or thirst.  Lies!  It’s just your brain saying “Waah… I don’t know what to write.”  My advice, keep a drink with you and keep snacks in your writing area.  My chocolate and Pocky stashes are on my desk.  Pick something bitesized and keep it nearby.

I guess what all this is meant to convey is that you don’t need to eliminate distractions.  In my experience, it’s better to acknowledge and moderate them.  All work and no play makes work freakin’ unbearable.  Just make sure to limit yourself so you still get your work done!