Thursday, May 20, 2010

Plugging the Time Leaks

I often find myself glancing at my clock, realizing it’s the end of the day, and noticing that I got about half the things on my list done. Sometimes it’s not just that my list is too long. Procrastination is a problem for freelancers—we live and die by our own efforts alone. Procrastinating can keep you from working on your own business, marketing your services, and even doing as good a job as you could have on a client project.

I’ve been thinking lately about the types of things I do to procrastinate. One huge time sink for me is the Internet. Sometimes I need it for research—but much of the time I don’t. Most of the time I’m obsessively checking my email, cruising Facebook, and watching funny videos my friends send me on YouTube—just because I’m stuck on some project element and need a break. Of course, if I worked on whatever I was stuck on, I’d get unstuck in about five minutes. But I don’t. I go watch “Glee” reruns online.

I suppose I could start tracking where I lose time. Time spent online—time spent cleaning my house while listening to NPR—time spent taking walks and running errands instead of working. I could figure out where the time is going, and then I could plug the leak. I have zero willpower, so I literally have to remove the temptation—or remove myself from it. Recently I downloaded Mac Freedom, which prevents me from accessing the Internet for a set time (and just in case you were wondering, it works for PC’s too, despite the name). If I’m distracted by chores around the house or books or TV, I get out of the house and go work in a coffee shop. It does help. But it’s tough to maintain good habits.

I could write down what I do every day, collect the data, and assemble it into charts and graphs showing very clearly how I spend my time. But that would be a procrastination tool in itself. Wouldn’t it?

What are your most effective tools for dealing with procrastination? I need some help here.

3 comments:

Irreverent Freelancer said...

I feel your pain. Maybe we can move to Pakistan: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100520/ap_on_hi_te/as_pakistan_internet_crackdown? (LOL)

Mark said...

Jennifer,

Check out the following article - http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/12/30/procrastination.economics/index.html . I think you'll find some interesting observations on procrastination besides the concept of putting up money as an incentive to meet certain commitments.

Mark

Lori said...

Look online, too. I quit using Yahoo! because it was obvious the news links were sucking up at least fifteen minutes every time I logged on - ten to surf and five to remember what I wanted to search for....

Facebook Bejeweled Blitz. I shook the Farm Town monkey off my back, but now I'm addicted to lining up those gemstones....