29
May
09

Stupid human tricks

My deadlines are looming, and I’ve been hitting the keyboard extra hard the last few weeks (and today, apologies for posting late!). Day job work has also picked up, and so I’ve been chugging along there as well. Things have also been breaking around the house, so I’ve been fixing those. Also, when I have time, I eat, see friends, and, every once in a while, get some sleep.

I’ve never been quite this busy over quite such a long period of time before. My schedule, if I want to get everything done kind of on time, and have it not be a train wreck, and still kick enough ass at the day job that we can eat, is demanding, to put it delicately. Less delicately, my schedule is a ravenous minion of Cthulhu that’s been eating my limbs one by one anytime it catches me slacking.

Since I’m fond of my legs, and I hate typing one handed, this means that procrastination, especially during writing time, CAN NOT be tolerated. To facilitate this, I’ve adopted a number of stupid human tricks to help my monkey mind stay focused on the task at hand.

TRICK 1: Unplug router during writing hours, removing wonderful internet from writing machine. This is so dumb, because the router is right in the other room, I could easily walk over and plug it back in, but I don’t, because while my willpower can lapse long enough to double click the browser icon, it has a hard time staying under for the walk down the hall. Amazing how a barrier to entry, even a small one, can help the brain stay on track.

TRICK 2: Keep goals small. I’m talking really tiny. Every morning, I write out a quick list of what I’m working on. Not even scenes, just “Character must go here, character must talk to this person, foreshadowing X must be revealed,” and so on. Once I get my list, I focus on the first task and I do not get up until it’s done. Not if I have to pee, not if the house is on fire, I am not allowed out of my chair (or think about anything else) until I have finished my tiny task. Come on, it’s only a little, just do it. You can do it, right? And I do, eventually. This system can be really annoying, but I have to admit, it’s amazing how fast things get done when I really have to pee.

TRICK 3: Write before anything else. For my mornings, the only things that come before writing are bathroom, coffee, and letting the dog out. After that, I am in my chair. I don’t do this because I’m a morning person (though I’ve kind of become one because of it), I do this because the early morning is the only time I can work. Any other time, I’m too tired, or too much is going on, or people are doing fun things in other rooms. So I just write first, and I keep myself going with the promise that after this, I can do whatever I want. It’s not true, but sometimes moving forward means lying to yourself like a bad salesman.

There are my tricks, which are mostly me treating my brain like a hyperactive five year old. I hate having to resort to this kind of behavior, but I have to get things done. No time for nice! So what are you stupid human tricks for productivity? I’m always looking for a new act to add to my repertoire. :)

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4 Responses to “Stupid human tricks”


  1. May 29, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    (10+2)*5

    Basically, setting a timer for 10 minutes, working one’s butt off, then resetting it for 2 minutes of play, etc. etc. Awesome stuff.

  2. 2 Terri-Lynne
    May 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Trick #1: Bose noise reducing headphones. Worth every penny I paid for them. They are my salvation when there are people home. They don’t cut off ALL noise, so if one of the kids cuts off a limb, I’ll hear the screams; but they do reduce enough noise that the tv and conversation don’t distract my thoughts.

    Trick #2: My writing computer isn’t hooked up to the internet. Period. I write in my office/loft on the second floor of my house. The nearest internet connection is downstairs. I do keep that computer on so that if I need to look things up, I can–but it entails going DOWNSTAIRS! I’m less inclined to pop down every time I hear, “You’ve got mail,” than I am if I work on my laptop and it’s only a finger click away.

  3. May 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    I think I’m going to have to use the unplug-router trick. Every time I sit down to churn out my daily 1000 words, I get distracted by something shiny on the internet, and it takes far longer than it should as a result. -_-

  4. June 1, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Oooh, maybe I should try the unplug the router thing. Currently, I have a post-it note with “NO” written on it over the IE icon on my desktop. It doesn’t work very well.

    I also second the notion of really good headphones.

    My trick to avoid procrastination is piles. When I have so much to do and don’t want to do any of it, I scrape everything together and put it into one pile (don’t worry about any sense of order, unless you know there are time critical things in the pile). Then I start at the top and work my way down – no fair “skipping” any item, everything must be dealt with completely before moving on to the next.

    You have the benefit of seeing most of your work space in a “clean” state to keep you going on the pile…


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