Self-Discovery: Productivity to Avoid Productivity

     In the past, who am I kidding? Currently I have problems with procrastination and staying on task. I think the procrastination started the first time I put something off to play video games until the last day then got away with it. The focusing problem started as a child, when I was diagnosed with A.D.D. Instead of putting me on Ritalin my mother chose to eliminate all artificial flavors and colors from my diet. It worked, I stayed on task and was generally less hyperactive.

     I’m not sure if I still suffer from A.D.D. To be honest I for the most part believe I have gotten over it. My focusing problem is more of an issue of discipline, at least I think so. Since late 2011 / early 2012 I’ve been trying different programs, apps and advice to keep on task. I don’t think much of self-help books but the two I would recommend the most are for nerds and creative types. The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick gives a great outline for how you can take your ability to absorb information related to whatever nerdy thing your into and turn it into an ability to help you better yourself. This was the best lesson I learned from Hardwick’s book:

…the brain doesn’t just tell you to do things; it also has a nasty habit of telling you what you CAN’T do- whether or not it’s true. As you go through life you gather self-imposed limits here and there until one day you’re unknowingly trapped trapped in a prison of bullshit limitations. But the truth is, it’s a holographic prison manufactured by your mind in a clumsy attempt to protect you from potential pain.

     Basically, your brain is looking for the shortest path to avoiding the pain of failure. This can lead to it convincing you to not try new things, tasks, jobs etc. but you don’t have to listen all the time.
     The other book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield defined what keeps your from accomplishing your dreams, from sitting down to write, to paint, to do what needs to be done as a force called Resistance.
     “Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance,” says Pressfield. “Because it’s the easiest to rationalize. We don’t tell ourselves, “I’m never going to write my symphony.” Instead we say, ‘I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow,”
     Now I don’t actually believe there is a force that keeps me from writing but the metaphor helps. It gives a concrete idea to what is keeping you from doing and allows you to resist. I used to carry this book with me everywhere I went. In fact, I think I’ll reread it soon enough. I’m pretty sure there is a .pdf of it if you search google but I didn’t tell you that.
     Two other useful tools I have been using on both my desktop are called Freedom and Anti-Social. Freedom turns off your Internet completely while Anti-Social merely prevents your from going to certain websites though right now the current version doesn’t recognise a lot of the sites I put in, including reddit. Freedom is the better way to go for just $10 and it was recommended to me by author Neil Gaiman himself, on twitter.

     Evernote though, has been my main savior. I use that for everything. I used to keep a word count on it before I discovered Scrivener had it’s own word count goal meter you can set-up. With the webclipper extension on Chrome I can clip research right into Evernote, plus I have checklists of things I need to do everyday, a particular day or just in the year in general. I honestly would not have gotten through my last two years of college nor my senior thesis without it.
     This brings me to a recent self-discovery that has been preventing me from being as productive as I should. Instead of doing what I should I will find myself doing other tasks that are not as important but fill me up with a sense of accomplishment or that I tell myself I must do in order to do what I should. For example, with writing I will tell myself that if my bedroom it must be clean before I can write in order to have a healthy environment in which to do. See, now that’s bullshit. I’m sitting here at my writing desk right now with my bedroom barely in my periphery. I know there’s a bowl and a coffee mug on my other desk and my garbage can is probably full but those are not preventing me from writing. I can’t even see them. That’s not all though, here are some other tasks I’ll trick myself into doing instead of writing.
  1. Backing up my writing on to my external hard drive and flash drive.
  2. Organising the files, i.e. making new folders, renaming files, etc.
  3. Constructing the perfect playlist or finding the perfect music to listen to while I write.
  4. Completely reorganize my bookcases. This one has the most bizarre connection to writing and the most flimsy but I know I’ve done it.
  5. Searching Google for best apps to keep me from being distracted.
  6. Making coffee.
  7. Cutting my fingernails
  8. Refilling all my fountain pens with ink.
     All of these are bullshit excuses and distractions but it doesn’t stop at writing. Some of these can extend to exercise like the music one or making a protein shake instead coffee or searching Google for the best exercise apps.
    This is kind of a blog post to myself to remind me of this behavior and to prevent it from happening in the future. I know it’s not completely preventable but I am going to try. Here’s to self-improvement.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s