There is productivity, and there is UNproductivity. Lets talk about unproductivity. What is it? Where does it come from? How do we burn it? How do you know that it’s pwning you? These are all questions we’ll cover in this post. Hopefully, at the end of these words, there will be something that resembles a step-by-step, real-time, actual solution.
Before we begin, you should know that I’ve done a technorati search for “unproductivity” and came across more than a few blogs that I felt would be useful in my analysis. Take a look at the quotes and visualize yourself in their positions, so that you can get that “Gah, I can’t control myself from being unproductive” feeling. You’ll need that feeling in order to adequately recognize the four factors that I’m about to mention.
QUOTES FROM OTHER HUMANS
I returned to Kent that evening and my streak of academic unproductivity continued its spiral. Evan and I played ping pong against some Asian guy who held his paddle upside-down.
I watched like 2 hours of TV and saw Harry Potter in theaters. While I recommend the movie, I wish I had not watched it; at least not before getting more work done on my paper(s) or presentation.
Otherwise, there is the predilection to utilize the waking moments to surfing the net to death, reading your friends’s blogs, updating your profiles in Friendster, downloading free mp3s, chatting in YM, MSN and Skype, updating Amazon wish lists, loooking up Google News every hour, testing Google Earth, playing word games, uploading pictures and sharing them, and so many more things. (I think my former PSE co-workers are laughing right now as they know I have been doing these things in our office with the firewalls and all…smacks of unproductivity!)
Though my sausage fell on the floor, definitely didn’t eat it after that), watched some meaningless television, napped, and then went out to eat with the boyfriend. Hurray for unproductivity! And that was the day.
Now, you’ll notice in each of the quotes there are a few common factors at the very least. Some of the common factors that I’ve noticed are: 1) There is a desire posing as a Distracter, 2) there is a Desire which is being distracted from, 3) there is some sort of dark magic that’s empowering the distracter and shadowing the desired action. I call this the Smoke Screen. 4) And the last thing that I can see very clearly is a Forgotten Sense of Time, which exists thanks to the smoke screen and the distracter.
This is the order in which you see each of the things I’ve just mentioned:
- Smoke Screen – and – Forgotten Sense of Time
First you’ll see the desire, what you want, very clearly in your mind. You might see a path you want to take, and a way of moving forward along that path. It’s at that crucial point in time where you’ll see the smoke screen, and the smoke screen will almost always be there, so expect this to happen, and be prepared. The smoke screen is basically a poison. Your body is immune to the poison, but your mind may or may not be immune, depending on if you’ve been trained or not – if you haven’t been trained, this will serve as a training exercise.
The same way that someone can believe they’ve been given a cure-all to their problem when they’ve actually been given a sugar pill, is the same way that the smoke screen works, but instead of telling you that it’s a cure-all, it telling you that all those clear well planned out ideas that you just had are all lies and it can’t possibly be that easy or safe or simple to start. The smoke screens job is to get you to believe it exists and it is making you sick, when in fact, it only exists if you make it exist, and it will only get you sick if you don’t call it out on its lie.
Lets say, for instance, that you fall into the trap of thinking the smoke screen into existence. What happens at this point? Well two things happen for sure. The first thing that happens is, as mentioned before, your desire gets all skewed and crap, as if you’re looking at it through a smoke screen! Go figure. If you’ve ever tried to see on the other side of a smoke cloud, you know exactly how difficult it is – it’s pretty close to impossible without special equipment. Your goal is now pretty unreachable and would take a lot of work, so your mind is led to think. The smoke screen has pwned you. The second thing that happens is your other desires seem a lot more inviting, and they start crowding around you like a group of nasty pigeons crowding around a piece of cake. No, your other desires aren’t evil, but when you fall for the smoke screen, they TURN evil because? you’ve believed the smoke, and the smoke has therefore poisoned you, just like in the video games, so that you’re not thinking clearly.
This is when the forgotten sense of time comes into play. You’ve got a smoke screen in front of you and the only alternative seems to be for you to pursue those other desires (at this point they’re really pigeons). You don’t realize that you can, and should, put off those pigeons/desires/distracters until a later date – but, now you do realize what’s happening. What I’m saying is, you shouldn’t just reject them, because they are YOUR desires, but you should instead, schedule them for a more appropriate time. You have to accept the FACT that you have all the time in the world to do those other desires, even if it seems like you don’t. Realize that when you put those distracters off until a designated time, that means you still get to do them! You’re not throwing away something that’s important to you, you’re just scheduling it into your day. I’ll digress on that thought; lets continue.
If you’re a typical person with typical procrastination tendencies, you WILL see the smoke screen, and the other desires WILL turn into evil pigeons on you. There’s no fix-it so that it doesn’t come into existence at this point. Over time, [how many days make a habit?], your mind will automatically form the habit of cutting out the smokescreen, because you’re so efficient. But until that time comes, you’ll need a hack to get around this annoying roadblock. 🙂
Here’s the hack, which you install FIRST THING WHEN YOU WAKE UP. Why? Because this way, you will start the day off correctly instead of letting the day start you off incorrectly – I call this phenomenon, control! After about a month of doing this, you’ll be able to throw the notecards away and do all of this IN YOUR HEAD! It’ll look like you were born with the ability to get things done. Everyone will envy your efficiency, and you’ll grow into something you had only seen in movies. It’s a great feeling. Anyways, lets get on with the hack; and by the way, you can modify this in any which way that suits you.
- 3 notecards or maybe a sheet of paper with 3 line divisions or something equivalent
- 1 pen or an equivalent utensil
1. Label your notecards
- Label the first notecard as “desires” or “I want to do these things”
- Label the second notecard as “desires to be scheduled in at a later date” or “I want to do these things at a later date”
- Label the third notecard as “there is no smoke screen” or “anxieties and solutions”
2. Only fill out the “desires” notecard. You can fill it out with whatever you feel you want to do that day, it’s your life.
3. START DOING THE THINGS ON YOUR LIST – there are many tricks and hacks for this part, but I wont get into them all. The easiest thing I can suggest is if the desire has smoke in front of it, just do it for 10 minutes, and then stop, unless you feel like going on. You are free to stop after 10 minutes. Then, some other time in the day, try another 10 minutes. Don’t push yourself too hard though; just make sure you try.
Now, it’s at this point when some smoke screens might start popping up. And this is to be expected, but luckily we have a plan of attack. You see, a smoke screen is a bunch of dark floating anxieties. They only exist if you let them, but if you’re like a lot of people, you probably haven’t learned enough self-control to be able to ignore these imaginary smokes screens – such a trivial temptation. So, we’ll deal with it.
4. When a you feel a smoke screen is covering that desire or that thing you want to do, WRITE down that anxiety in the “there is no smoke screen” section. And IMMEDIATELY right down, just beneath it, the solution to that anxiety.
- “But it’s hard to find a solution!”
- No it’s not hard to find a solution. Writing the anxiety down on paper is the hard part, after that, the anxiety sort of disappears or becomes easy to solve.
- “What if I can’t think of an anxiety?
- Then there’s nothing in your way, you’ve just got the butterflies (an anxiety), so get started!
5. The distracters have the ability to pop up at ANY TIME throughout the process of a day. So keep your card handy and write down the distracter, then write down a future date for you to go ahead and pursue that desire. It’s your DESIRE; don’t let them go, just schedule them in … for a later date.
And that’s all there is to the hack. Enjoy your new hack and the increased amount of control you feel you have over your life. Remember, after a month of the training wheels (notecards), you’ll probably be able to ride the bike without ’em.
Now, as practice, you might want to go back up and look at the quotes. But instead of feeling like someone who’s out of control, imagine using the hack on all of those situations.
Before long, you’ll be saying things like this:
God must’ve given my feeble brain and my inaccurate fingers a boost today……I managed over 5800 words!!! WOO HOO. Once again, I feel like this crazy 50k word goal might actually be attainable.
Alas, long lost productivity!!