Friday, July 10, 2015

One Writer's Guide to Getting Stuff Done

As my friend, you'll be happy, I'm sure, to know that I am completely up to date on my e-mail. (And my paper mail, since you're interested.) I've also scrolled back several days in my Facebook feed, so if your kid(s) did anything cute since Independence Day, I have liked,  grinned, "awww-ed" and/ or chortled appropriately. Did you post a picture of yourself at the shore-- any shore? Or up in the cool, pine-topped mountains? I have jealously regarded your happy circumstances, hit the like button, hiked the speed on the ceiling fan, and cursed this time that I am consigned to wander in the Phoenix desert metro area. 

I've also binge-read every blog I was ever vaguely interested in, applied for two jobs, cleaned the kitchen, swept the floor, and made a master shopping list for a future week's worth of meals planned to cook on some future Sunday, probably when I am also supposed to be writing.

Because this is the key to high productivity folks:  you can do everything and anything you've never gotten around to doing, if only you have a project that you are supposed to finish. Today. 

Just to avoid writing, an activity I am ostensibly supposed to enjoy enough to consider it a "passion," I have gone so far as to page back through several weeks of to-do lists to see if there was anything that "fell between the cracks." Believe me, I found plenty. 

Though it's usually writing that is the catalyst for a whirlwind of unnecessary activities, I've also successfully put off lots of other creative projects until the very last minute, simply by doing a bunch of other things instead. I am a pro at this, after all these years, so I've also been able to avoid other unpleasant tasks, like balancing my checking account (it's been so long, do people even do that any more?), filling out required forms, doing my taxes... You name it, if it had to be completed by a certain time, I've avoided it.

Today, I was seconds away from cleaning the bathrooms, already clean by our household standards, when I realized that, dammit,  I needed to stop procrastinating and sit down at the computer.  Then I promptly re-checked my e-mail, my bank balance, and Facebook and, just for good measure,  played eight rip-roaring games of computer solitaire, followed by countless rounds of that weirdly addictive gem smashing game in which my fantasy coin count now measures in the mid seven figures.

I finally opened the document files that held my writing. Then rechecked e-mail. Scrolled through what I wrote the last time I could glue my ass to the chair and my attention to my work at the same time. Then someone needed a snack. One of my children, actually, not just me, but some fuel wouldn't hurt, right? 

Back in the chair. Back to the file. E-mail. Word document. Here we go.  I typed two whole sentences, but suddenly needed to check a fact on the internet-- and you know what a rabbit hole that is. Somehow, I found myself on decorating sites-- how to stunningly upgrade your smallish rental apartment has, like, a million possible links. For some reason I found myself thinking I should clean the bathrooms again. 

But I remained steadfast. You are supposed to be writing, I told myself. Pretty sternly, but not so as to lower my self-esteem or anything. Geez.  Then I'd never sit down and write again.

Then I decided to write this post.  The question before me now: is this writing, or procrastinating?  Or some odd fusion: "procrasti-writing?" 

I think I need to get myself a snack while I think about that. I should get the kids something to munch on too. My real job is being a mom, after all.

And then I might clean the bathrooms, but I will definitely check my e-mail again first. 

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