ON SECOND THOUGHT – The Productivity Trick You Need To Try Now

Maybe, it was self-sabotage, but I knew to step out of it when I really wanted to.

Concentration. Focus. Attention. I feel like at one point I did know what those words meant.

I’d decide something, set it on my to-do list, and then do it…
Okay fine, it is true that I have been known to procrastinate here and there, but it was the kind of procrastination that I owned and controlled. It was the kind of ‘I’ll do it later’ that wasn’t entirely bull. Whenever I said ‘in a few hours’ I meant it, and even though it meant punching my keyboards till the rise of the sun, I always saw to it that it was done.
It was procrastination that felt intentional as it sat in the palm of my hands in ways that didn’t remotely feel like self-sabotage. Maybe, it was self-sabotage, but I knew to step out of it when I really wanted to. I could delay activities just in time for the deadline they needed to meet, and never felt sweat drip down to the floor.

Pushing it close to the limit was never that hard because I always knew I could somehow come out unscathed in the end. It felt like driving recklessly, but without the feelings of guilt or fear because I knew I would always hit the break right on time (don’t do that!). It was like drinking almost too much, but never quite enough to lose my grip on reality.

My relationship with procrastination was complex and maybe even a little toxic at times, but it worked for me. It worked to the point I saw it as a none issue. It worked until it didn’t.

This year has been the awful (I can hear you nodding painfully in the back.), but it’s been even worse when it comes to my concentration span. For some reason, I’ve struggled to concentrate on anything.

I’ve become the careless driver that loses confidence entirely and my grip on reality has been nowhere to be found for a while now.
Now when I procrastinate, it no longer comes from a place of false control of my life or ambitions, but rather from a place of loss, exhaustion and pure lack of control.

It’s not that I don’t possess the desire to make things happen, but it’s that my ability to focus left the building right when March came around and never walked back in willingly. In fact, it feels like every time I catch it and convince myself we’ll stay together here on out, it escapes like a thief in the night leaving me to pick up the pieces alone.

Yes, I have been chasing tasks ever since then trying to win against the restless part of me, but sometimes the energy required to come out at the top is one I haven’t acquired yet. I mean, I haven’t cleared out my inbox in a loooooong time (yes, again!) and that’s never a good sign.

Recently, however, I’ve been using a rather interesting way to get productive and find the enthusiasm to get things done once more. It’s a rather simple trick, but it works.

Basically, it involves me tricking myself into believing I’ll be working on something for a short period of time.
‘Just for 10.’, ‘I’ll only do this till it’s lunchtime’, ’20 minutes for today’; I say these as I make my way to my desk, sometimes I even set a timer to remind me.
Doing a little to start really does change the game because it takes me from doing nothing at all to doing something, and in times like these, even the smallest things do count. I call it a trick, however, because more often than not I end up taking it beyond the intended short period of time and often complete the task in its entirety.  

Seeing the progress build in real-time often gives me that boost I need to continue, and this realization has helped me enormously in the past few days. Instead of embarking on a wild goose chase or hoping I will find focus once more, I decided I’d rather fool myself into commitment – as I stated last week, imagination alone won’t take me there so this is the next best option.

Give that task 20 minutes at a time this week and see how far it will take you – for sure farther than you’d be lying in bed staring at the empty ceiling. Procrastination is no fun when you’ve lost control.

Have you been procrastinating more or less since the global pandemic began?

Your restless romantic roamer

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  1. I’ve been feeling the same way this year, especially around March-June. I think it’s because life doesn’t really feel real at the moment–kind of like we are in a strange dream. So it’s almost like I’m just waiting for this dream to end, not doing anything in the meantime. I’ve had to trick myself too, so it’s funny that you say that. It’s almost like having to show yourself you’re capable of more in order to start believing it again. Great post!

    1. Yup, you said it best; a strange strange dream we’ve been living in. Frankly, staying productive is the only things keeping me sane at the moment. That and some good food and a ton of Netflix.
      Thanks for reading!

  2. “Now when I procrastinate, it no longer comes from a place of false control of my life or ambitions, but rather from a place of loss, exhaustion and pure lack of control.” YES. 1000x YES! This is how I feel to a T. Like I’m stuck, but not between anything physically obvious. I will definitely be trying this technique out next week – I’ve got a bunch of things I’ve got started on, but just haven’t finished up – and I’d quite like to get a shift on. You’re not alone in the emails department too. I’ve been checking for important emails, but you betcha there’s a bunch of unopened newsletters and the like sitting pretty.

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