Sunday, March 16, 2014

Wait For It...Procrastination

I was lamenting to a coworker that I have a lot of projects but I procrastinate a lot. He found this hard to believe based on how I am at work, but I am a different person at home than I am at work. At home I procrastinate all the time, have horrible time management skills, and I am indecisive. In work and school, I am the opposite of all that.

I am getting frustrated with myself.

I currently have:
  • 5 plays in various states of doneness
  • 3 stories including one with an entire outline and ending
  • a video project that I've already outlined
  • several pet/organization projects
  • a bunch of online classes/ tutorials I want to take 
  • Plus need to send in my application for the Amtrak Residency due on March 30
I keep adding more projects and when I get home, I am either too tired from work or I can't decide between projects. I get so caught up in my indecision that I don't get anything done. This needs to change. I've said this before and I have tried making plans and even sticking to them for a short time before I get lax again. This is the first time I'm putting this in writing and dissecting the tactics that work for me in work and school in order to apply it to my personal projects. With this, I am holding myself accountable.

A little background. I have always been a little bad about my indecisiveness but it has been coming out more and more as I've gotten older. This may have to do with having less free time or because I keep adding projects without finishing other ones or it might have to do with realizing my own mortality. It could be a combination of all of these. I used to work on 3 projects at a time. Sometimes more, but usually I'd keep it at 3 and when I finished one, I'd replace it with the next one on my list. I would flit between the 3 projects depending on my mood. I would usually have a comedy and something a little darker for certain moods and an organization project for when I needed to channel and control my neuroticism. (Note: this may be why I've been a little more noticably neurotic lately) This 3-project system worked well for me in the past, but I seem to be having trouble narrowing it down into 3 projects. 
The biggest motivators for me in both work and school are deadlines and being counted on. I hate the thought of letting peopole down because I didn't hold up my end of the work. Deadlines always help me understand the end point. I've heard many people say you shouldn't put deadlines on creative people (though I've also heard the latter) but I tend to not agree. I feel they do tend to help more than hinder, but I also think some people (Me) who make an art out of procastinating need deadlines or we just don't get anything done. Nobody is really counting on me, but I can make deadlines work for me.

Another thing that helped me, especially when I was a payroll specialist, was making lists. I'd have one week that was only for payroll and whatever came up and then I would have an off week. When I finished running payroll, I'd compile my list of tasks for my off-week and I'd color code them based on priority. Whenever something came up, I'd add it to the list and color-code it accordingly. If there was a lot (and there usually was) I'd number within each of the color coded sections.  It took a few minutes to compile but save me a lot of time and kept me focused. It also came in handy when my supervisor exasperatedly exclaimed: "I don't even know what you do all day!" and I handed her the list leaving her speechless.

One of the most important things I learned through my courses was scope. How big is your project? What does it entail? This is probably one of the most oft overlooked concepts even though it was consistently drummed into us. It's taking your project and seeing how big it is and making it manageable with your resources. If you have 3 days you can't write your big space epic, but you should be able to write a pretty good short story. It is basically looking at what you want to do and what your resources (including time) are and aligning them. What do you need, what can you cut? What are the most important aspects and what are the things that would be nice to have but are not necesssary?
I think I can find a way to stop wallowing in my indecisive Libra ways and stop procrastinating if I can combine the methods that have worked in the past.

-   Look at the scope of each project 
-   Determine which projects go with which mood
-   List them by priority in category of mood
-   Give myself milestones/deadlines 

By going through this process, I am hoping to work through my paralyzing indecisveness and work on my projects. Working on projects helps keep me a bit more balanced. When I don't have them I tend to get more neurotic and indecisive along with some other stuff. This is an effort to get myself back to a more balanced state.

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