I read articles to procrastinate more than any other activity. It’s cheap, time-consuming, and allows me to justify it—with no actual verity—by telling myself it’s research of some kind. Just today a few things I read were
Whether the game “Chinese whispers,” as “telephone” is known in the U.K., is racist (people were mostly unsure, but it is)
The Wikipedia page for the Tom Servo character on MST3K
…and several other things.
It’s definitely a problem. But possibly a problem I can get a handle on by being more aware of the habit. Chipping away at procrastination is an ongoing practice of reminding my monkey mind trivia can wait for breaks.
Today was a series of decisions that took all the free hours of my day off. They were:
Scrolling social media feeds and alternately seething and laughing (1.5 hours…be fair, 2 hours)
Reorganizing space on my laptop by deleting unused and outdated apps (2 hours)
Traveling to the court house to get my address updated, since they seem to think I still live at my previous. (2 hours)
Squeezing in a single coding class Pomodoro (.5 hours)
Editing my podcast and queuing it to publish (5.5 hours)
Making dinner while adding things to my Netflix queue (1.5 hours)
Listening to All Things Must Pass while reading and writing this post before bedtime to get up at 5:30 for work. (1 hour)
There isn’t much of a point to this. Just that there are the same hours in every day, and looking at where they go can help identify where to change or cull choices of time spent. Time is all we’ve got, really.
If your day job is wearing thin, I have a couple of quick tips to get beyond your day-to-day irritation that have helped me.
Tired dinosaur hits from the 80s on the store soundtrack get new life when you sing along without any contractions or slang substitutes, as if you were a trained opera singer with no knowledge of pop or swing. Ex: “What does love, what does love have to with it?” or “If there is something weird / In your neighborhood / Who are you going to call?” I admit I find this hilarious.
Play opposite your type when interacting with others. If you’re reserved and friendly but quiet, spend some time being high energy and talkative. If you’re gregarious and dynamic, spend time smiling and nodding a lot. It’s like an acting job in the middle of the day. Use sparingly with management.
There aren’t really good connections among the past three days’ posts, but Three Is a Magic Number. Bob Dorough died a few days ago, and despite his being ambulatory and lucid all his 94 years, and therefore getting higher on the Good Life Lived ladder than most, I was still sad to learn he was gone. I saw him at a small club in San Francisco in the late 90s or so, when he was on a tour with a company of young singers to supplement. It’s extra lucky that Jack Sheldon—singer of “I’m Just a Bill” among many others—was there to reprise some of his hits, too.
I was always a fan of the Friday 5 meme, so here’s a past-blast redux, why not.
1) Austin Kleon gave a wonderful talk at the Bond conference last week, on maintaining your creative momentum and such.
2) Since the beginning of hockey season, I’ve been trying to be less a fan of any particular team and enjoy the game and the players I admire more. Still, there’s beauty in the way fandom wears its collective heart on its sleeve, and if you’re outside it you don’t feel the same impact. And since my former fanning was done in support of the Vancouver Canucks, I couldn’t help but be caught up in the last home game the fabled Sedin twins will ever play. Not only was it touching to see such affection pouring from the fans and other players (on both teams), it was also a thrilling nail-biter of a finish in overtime. It embodied the best of what pro sports can offer.
Repetition is good. Repetition is bad. Both things are true, depending on specific values of “Repetition”.
Having to listen to the same playlist of thirty songs because the soundtrack where you work never changes
Initiating patterns of compulsive, destructive behavior in every relationship
Racial/sexist/homophobic slurs learned from parents blurted in public
Obsessively checking your social media feeds for the dopamine loop hit
Playing a beloved song over and over until you know every line and every note by heart
Saying a poem to yourself until you can recite it by memory
Lifting weights in sets so as to increase strength
Working on a daily creative habit
Might have fudged the last one, there. But it isn’t what you create, it’s how you get it done, and it is a kind of repetition. Mindless, habitual, until you forget about motivation and stamina and working yourself up to forge ahead—you just do the thing.
The question is yours to answer, we’ll all have a different list, sometimes several things, sometimes one.
But as social feeds get better at gaming your very human instincts and desires, it’s ever more incumbent to decide how much time is too much to spend with them. To that end, writing down the one or three things you view as “important” could be a useful reminder to spend most of your free time on them, and not digital minutiae.
Title: “What’s Important?”
And then use that to focus your attention and daily habit.
About the Author
Marcus is a maker of things and thoughts. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.