The Procrastination Trap

There’s a saying: “Why put off to tomorrow what you can put off altogether?” It’s a riff off the more popular: “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can get done today.”

In the age of doing so much, staying on all the time, busy schedules and busier inboxes, it’s easy to procrastinate.

What I’ve realized is, the longer you put it off, the less likely it is to get done. Regardless of your intentions.

There is a cumulative power in putting this off, and two days postponed is greater than one plus one: it compounds.

Of course, this applies to work without deadlines. That’s a different form of procrastination, and any of us who have jobs or went to school recognize putting things off until the deadline looms.

Most of this insidious form of procrastination – putting off until it’s a vague notion in the back of your mind – spring up from personal projects. Things you might actually like doing. Yet, it put them off for the more “important” things.

If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to reprioritize.

One of the lists

There are many things I’m interested in. A bunch of them come across here on the blog. The vast majority of them in fact.

In trying to sort through the stuff I’ve accumulated, and my finances vs. my debts, and my time management obligations, and my work and gig schedule, and everything else that I do or plan to do – mostly it ends up in my pocket Moleskine at some point.

So what am I interested in? My list is partially in response to this article on building your own personal library.

I recall having a conversation with someone who at the time was helping me through a very rough patch of life. I was looking at a book, Akashic Records for Dummies, and of course, I didn’t need it. But I told her I’d planned on leaving a library of books after me. When I died. She said that any meaningful library left behind probably wouldn’t have a collection of For Dummies books. She tended to say smart things like that.

So here are my interests, more or less, of topics which may or may not appear on the blog, and which are listed here in no particular order:

  • Travel
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy
  • Esoteric Studies
  • Work (How to work better, smarter, and for more money)
  • Finance & Investing
  • History
  • Japan, and to a lesser degree other Asian countries (focus on history, philosophy, language, and culture)
  • Art (Theatre, Visual Arts, Other Performing Arts)
  • Arts Management
  • Self-Help
  • Fiction (Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Action, Literary)
  • Writing Studies
  • Videography and Photography
  • Memoirs, Biographies, and Autobiographies
  • Mythology

In looking at this, I realized how broad it all seemed. There are so many facets that can fit into each topic; some that overlap topics. I write this out now as I work on honing in onto what this blog will look like – especially over the next six months while I’m in Alaska.

Anyway, I’ll keep posting. And maybe someone will read it. And that’s about all anyone can do.

The least-talented professional

It’s hard for me to admit, but as a performer, I’m often not all that different from other performers I’m working with when it comes to talent. Occasionally, I’m the least talented one there.

Thing is, that rarely matters. What helps me is I come in with a positive attitude and a good work ethic. In most situations, as long as you can perform the basic minimum tasks, that’s all you need to keep the job. To stay, and even to get asked to do more, get promoted, or offered more pay. As long as your a pleasure to work with.

The world is full of people who can do the same work you can. Sometimes cheaper, sometimes faster, and sometimes better. But if others like working with you, that means more for your career than anything else you can do.

In Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech, he says the three things that keep people working are: 1) their work is good; 2) and because they are easy to get along with; 3) and because they deliver the work on time.

“…And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine.”

 

Weekly Roundup

Hello again, campers! Ready for your campfire tales? No? Not really?

I finished listening to the Camp Red Moon short anthology, and it took me a while to recognize the voice in the second story. Kevin T. Collins, who’s performed the audiobooks to the Sam Capra series by Jeff Abbot. Speaking of, it’s about time for another installment in that series.

Anyway, here’s what’s on my plate this week.

Reading: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Just getting started, and I haven’t seen the movie either, but I recognize the desire to travel, isolate, and found yourself. A lot of my library seems geared towards those sentiments, even if they all haven’t been read yet. A 26-year-old, reeling from tragedy, decides to make the 1100-mile solo hike.

Listening: You Learn from the Alanis Morrissette jukebox musical Jagged Little Pill. I had this in the nineties (it’s probably still floating around my cd collection somewhere). This ensemble number is really touching, and I enjoy it a lot.

Doing: Goal setting. I’ve been using a couple of resources – Designing Your Life, Tony RobbinsSeth Godin, & Tim Ferris. Before I start making cuts to some of my projects and interests, I want to make sure I’m doing it for the right reason. So having those goals set are important.

Sharing:

How to decide what’s important

I’ve been asked many times, in many different ways, when will I find what I’m looking for? I’m asked this because I’ve jumped from job to job, picking up gigs along the way. I’ve traveled overseas and down south. I’ve acquired a couple of degrees (along with some debt), and I’m still looking at getting my Ph.D.

I have a half-dozen or so irons in the fire, so to speak. There’s a radio program I put together; some film & video work I still do; this blog; three gigs right now, which I’ll have reduced to one for the summer; and a couple of creative projects in the pipeline.

And I know it’s too much.

In one of the Weekly Roundups, I mentioned this blog post on working Smarter, Not Harder. I’ve taken some of the advice I gleaned from the posting, including trying to flesh out my goals. These are have proven enormously elusive to me, at least over the past four years.

I’ve seen what can happen when you have a singular focus and move methodically towards the goal. I’ve experienced it, and I know it works. Only when it happened, it wasn’t how I’d imagined it, and I now select goals with a bit more reluctance.

So as I take my time to list out my goals, for the short-term and the long-term, I think it’s important to (as I often say) be mindful and honest about what it is you’re searching for – what it is you want in life.

Once that’s done, the next step will be pulling the top three to focus on, which may yet be more of a challenge.

Weekly Rundown

What I’m Reading: The Call of the Wild by Jack London. Picked it back up, and am just reading a chapter a night. Being a dog lover, it’s nice to read from the dog’s point of view, but also a bit sad given the context.

What I’m listening to: Camp Red Moon on Audible, from RL Stine and other authors. Fun fireside ghost stories, geared towards a younger audience. But I did grow up reading Goosebumps, so I don’t mind it at all.

What I’m spending time with: The Witcher III: Wild Hunt on Nintendo Switch. Started down the deep dive of the Witcher franchise last week, and wanted to give the game a go. Pretty good so far. I like the open-world environment, as well as multiple quests to accomplish. A little glitchy at times, which I heard is a flaw in the Nintendo conversion. But otherwise, a grade of A- so far.

What I’ve shared:

Decision capital

It takes currency to make decisions. And each day we’re only allotted so much of that currency. It’s important not to waste it on frivolous decisions. Utilize your natural energy moments (for many of us that’s early in the morning) to make those important decisions. Don’t check off a few emails, but rather make the yes-or-no sign-off on the important project.

When that capital is used up, that’s it for the day. The best thing you can do is get some rest and wait until tomorrow.

Making time to create

More often than not, when pressed for time we give up our own ambitions or creative work to make room for other things. The challenge, then, is to not push aside our creative work. Make time. Chisel it in stone into your calendar.

This is my time, for my creative work. It will not be altered.

Force yourself to work, and hold yourself accountable. That’s how to make meaningful projects come to life.

Find your focus

With so many things on your plate, it’s easy to try and take it all at once. But figuring out where to place your focus will pay dividends in getting things done.

But how? Which items to take your attention, and which to postpone?

Those questions are similar, but the answers are unique to each individual. But regardless of what you have lined up to do, make sure you’re spending time on real work – work that you find motivating and important. Otherwise, nothing else you do will matter.

An assessment

Now in the new year, it’s important to take an accurate look at your situation. Review things like your finances (also a good time since tax season is right around the corner), your schedule, work/life balance, etc. An honest evaluation will give you the opportunity to make changes getting you closer to your goals.

I had hoped that 2019 would have me moving forward in Success and Harmony. But I hadn’t painted a clear enough picture for myself at the beginning of the year. So this year I wanted to ensure that I had the foundation laid for progress.

What this looks like:

  • Financial Breakdown: I’ve used Mint to gather all of my financial information into one place. This includes bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and investments. I’m sure that there are other options, but I’ve had Mint for a while now, though in the last half of 2019 I let some of the information slide.
  • Work/Life Balance: This has been a bit tricky, as I’ve been working a lot during the past month. After three months with very few jobs, suddenly I was seeing a full calendar. Now, in January, I must admit that I’m pretty tired trying to keep up with the gigs and the holiday expectations. I wrote about hustling as an actor, and I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing over the past month. Hustling. I’m prepared to pull back, and starting in March I should have just one contract to focus on for the summer. That will free up the rest of my time for living.
  • Relationships: This could be lumped into Work/Life, but there are some relationships that should be cultivated that I’m not currently nurturing, and some relationships that should be looked at to see if they are still providing a healthy framework. All in all, I don’t spend too much time with toxic friendships. However, at this point I do want to review every one of my relationships to make sure that I’m being present and attentive (not toxic myself), and that they are doing the same.
  • Health: Another of my problematic areas. Having been diagnosed with RA nearly a decade ago now, I no longer take medication for it. I’ve found that the key to my health is sleeping adequately, physical activity, and eating properly. I don’t always commit to this lifestyle, but it helps when I do.
  • Goals: Finally, what are my goals? Yes, I have my focus words for 2020. But was are my goals, both short-term and long-term? There are a couple of ways to think about these. I think right now, it’s important to ask, “Are these SMART?” (Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Time-based.) If not, then reevaluate.