putting off procrasti-nation: part II

Part I in this series focused on the positives of procrastination as a way of allowing ideas to germinate in the headspace you create when doing very little.

Which is great, until I remember that just sitting around having ideas without acting on any of them is basically loafing. And it’s not helping my cash-flow.

But what to do? I am preternaturally disposed toward hibernation. Yes: in October. How then to motivate myself to get my arse in gear and start a business, when winter is practically upon us and I should probably concentrate on keeping warm..??

3 task challenge

Well, over dinner the other night, I casually mentioned to my gentleman friend* (as my great-aunt Lizza calls him) that there were a few things I wanted to get done this week for my business stuff. He shared a few of his own.  We decided it’d be a good idea for each of us to email the other with our top 3 tasks each Monday, with a deadline of Thursday to complete them or chase their progress.

If that sounds a little too 90s New Age self-help:

Bleurgghh.  Don’t worry.

This is gamification, baby.  You versus me.  Boy against girl.  Pure, raw, primal competition. Type A against Type A+ (me, natch). Grrrrrrrrrr. Bring it.

See. It works. You’re already feeling pumped up and ready to take on the world. Or at least to send that email you’ve been putting off for weeks.

Let me tell you, I got more done on that Monday than in the two weeks prior. And a Monday following a boozy, lost weekend, no less … unheard of.  And the gentleman friend*?  Well, last time I checked, he was consoling himself with his first loser podium place.  Better luck next time, punk.

So post your 3 tasks for this week on this blog. Then pick yourself a mutual motivator – it needs to be someone who will be merciless in their mockery if you bail – and set that weekly email.

You need to send your list of 3 tasks by 11am on a Monday and follow up with your buddy on Thursday.

Let the games begin!

* Ps.  I asked him what he’d like to be called for the purposes of this blog and he said “The Mack Daddy”.  Class.  Who am I to deny a man such a simple pleasure…?  So from now on, “The Mack” it shall be.

I refused to add a photo of Mark Morrison.

For those of you unaware what “Mack Daddy” means, here’s a helpful definition:

© MerriamWebster

putting off procrasti-nation: part I

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty certain that if I were even half as good at any one thing as I am at putting off doing stuff, then I would probably own half of Europe by now (the half that’s still worth something).

Instead, it’s taken me nearly two weeks to write this post.  And I’m still in the motivated “honeymoon” phase of blogging.  I’m doomed.

I know folk who always do what they say they’re going to do.  Who take themselves off quietly to apply themselves to the task and deliver it in good time with no drama or histrionics.  Come on guys, cut it out.  You’re giving the rest of us a really bad rep.  I honestly don’t know how you can sleep at night.

Me? I’m grateful if my procrastination takes any vaguely constructive form.  If I get as far as cleaning the bathroom or having some food in the house, I’m mentally high-fiving.  My own brand of procrastination usually involves a 4Music 50-most-identikit-songs marathon.  But, man, have I learned to bust some moves….  If anyone out there needs an expert in sitting-down pop video dancing.  Call me.  I am ready.

If someone could please teach me how to stop procrastinating, I will pay good money (and, if you’re thinking of this as a business idea, you’re also going to need to get me to sign up for the course, attend the lessons, do my homework and apply it in my daily life…).  Derren Brown, are you listening?  I’m relying on you, man.  You’re the only one who can save me now.

productive procrastination

There is another school of thought.  That says that in those moments when you do something trivial or nothing at all; when you stop forcing yourself to think, or focus, or try so damn hard, you give your brain the space to be creative and that’s when the ideas will come to you.

 “It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing.” 

― Gertrude Stein

My clever mum bought me an incredible book before I quit my job.  It’s written by an amazing woman called Brenda Ueland and it’s called If You Want to Write: a Book about Art, Independence and Spirit.    It was first published in 1938, but you wouldn’t know it.  Ueland’s advice and philosophy are timeless.  The basic premise is that we all have creative ideas and ability.  But we stifle creativity by wanting it to generate success or financial reward.

enjoy the process

I was a lawyer for a long time.  Creativity is not wildly encouraged in the legal profession.  I came out with my creative-confidence severely dented.  I really had no idea how to generate business ideas.  Then I read Ueland’s book.  And I realised that the key is not to judge your productivity or your output.  The key is just to have a go and to enjoy the process of creating.

That’s what I’m doing here.  Watching reruns of Fresh Prince and eating frozen food.  And I have to tell you that the ideas have started to come a little easier.  And I’m not judging them.  I’m just writing them down… and I’m enjoying myself in the process.