Saturday, 8 March 2014

How I Get Anything Done...despite being a massive procrastinator. Plus some pretty photos.

I am, by nature, a massive procrastinator. In the past I have easily spent entire days doing nothing at all of note - watching trashy TV, shopping for real estate in opposite corners of the world (I've picked out a nice apartment in New Orleans, and a horse ranch in Vermont for when I'm really rich), and flicking through magazines without really reading them.

I'm not totally useless of course, I've always worked or studied and done well at what I was doing. I had to drag myself out of bed grumbling, but I would go work really hard and had enough work ethic to make sure everything I needed to do was done. Then I'd come home and do nothing again. I got by seeming productive with the occasional manic cleaning or organizing or shopping binge where I'd race around all day and get a million things done, and R would come home to a spotless house, new dinnerware and a three course meal, or our home office entirely re-arranged and re-organised. More often than not though, I'd get inspired and my motivation would last about 2 hours - fine for cleaning because that's plenty of time to work through our little apartment properly. But not so good for other things. It took me two weeks of to do the three coats of paint on the ugly built-ins in our office.

This year, by necessity of not wanting to compromise my money and work less hours, nor take a lighter uni course load, I've finally had to grow up. I've learnt that for me, there are a few things that keep me on track and stop me collapsing on the couch at the end of the day having not accomplished anything beyond earning my salary.

1. Keep the momentum.
 For me, if I stop moving when I get home, that's it. Nothing else will get done. That's why I go straight from work to the gym, so I can't sit down and lose motivation in between. Then from the gym, as soon as I get home I avoid that comfy sectional like the plague! I try to plan dinners that are either already prepped, or don't need much prep, and that can be popped in the oven or on a low heat on the stove and left alone for long enough for me to run up and shower and do a super speedy tidy up, or sort and put on a load of washing, or pull up a uni lecture recording to listen to, or a chapter that needs reading. Basically I don't sit down until all those things are done, because if I do sit down to check my email or something, the momentum will go and it will be so much harder to get up and keep going.

2. Make the most of waiting time.
 This is related to the above, but I find that the more 'idle' time I have where I'm stuck waiting for something or in transit or whatever, the more likely I am to get bored and lose motivation. I find I have to keep busy from the time I get up to the time I sit down at the end of the day. The worst time for me is the traffic on the commute home. I find it frustrating because it seems like such dead time, where I wish I could be getting something else done, but multitasking while driving is mostly a really bad idea. My solution is one of two things. I either put on really really good music that will perk me back up again before I get to the gym. Or I play something educational. It sounds super lame, but MIT offer hours of lecture recordings from amazing professors. For next week I have a lecture by Noam Chomsky, celebrating 50 years of linguistics studies at MIT, which of course makes me feel like I'm doing uni work and being productive. If you google it, theres also lots of free language learning audio books you can download too. If you catch a train or bus you can just load it onto your mp3 or phone, if you drive a newer car you can load the files to an MP3 or thumb drive and use the USB connection. If your car doesn't have that, invest in a couple of rewrittable CDs and burn a few new lectures each week, or rotate your music often enough that you don't get bored.

3. Find a positive to focus on.
 For me, I can do things like cleaning or laundry with less grumbling if I focus on the fact that whatever I do now, I don't have to do on the weekend. It's like, on a Tuesday night, I'm already worn out, what difference does it make if I get more worn out before bed time. But on a Saturday morning, the less I have to do to keep on top of everything, the more time I have to do something fun or relaxing. Some little tasks have their own gratification too. Like taking the time to do a hair treatment means I have hot hair by the weekend. Going to the gym leaves me with enough of an endorphin rush mostly that I get a little more done post workout. Some (though definitely not all) of the uni work I have are actual tasks that I can work through and finish, and I love being able to cross something off my to do list once and for all. Repeated or ongoing tasks are sometimes the hardest because they never truly go away (I'm looking at you, laundry!) but actual uni assignments are my jam because I will at some point be able to finish, save and submit them, and then they're gone from my mental to-do list forever. That, for me, is enough of a little psychological reward in itself to keep me going.

And now, on a much less productive note, a sample of photos from my neglectful period of non-blog-updating.

Two minute hot nails...these are just those sticky nail adhesives you can get at Priceline. And they're my new best friend since I'm trying to save and don't get manicures anymore. You can find them yourself here.

My little blue bubble car. I finally traded in the Celica just before Christmas, and bought this shiny little thing off the showroom. It's way easier to park, way cheaper to run and isn't threatening to fall apart at the axles like the Celica was. I'll miss Juanita and her far superior acceleration and pretty curves, but having a new car is fun! Car is from these guys and the details of this baby can be found here. This colour is Blue Candy.

We've been taking lovely little weekends away. This was a drive from Sydney to Thrirroul through the National Park and over the Sea Cliff Bridge. Check in here to plan your trip, especially if the weather is a bit iffy because they do close access to parts of the National Park and the bridge occasionally when the weather is nasty.

Kittenyface is still his usual goofy self. He's taken quite a shine to this replica Isamu Noguchi Origami table from Life Interiors. If you're ever looking at Matt Blatt replicas, these guys are worth checking out too. If you're Sydney based they have a showroom about five minutes from Matt Blatt Alexandria, in Lachlan Street, Waterloo. It's a bit tricky to find because it's set back behind another building, but their prices are sometimes slightly cheaper for very very similar replicas, their service has been much better in my experience.

This was our Valentines day! I swear I will write a proper post about this at some point, but I cannot recommend the Meet-a-Cheeta experience at National Zoo, Canberra. It was pouring rain all day and the photos feature us in very unattractive rain ponchos, but the cheetas were beautiful and the staff were really lovely.

Rainy day roses in a front garden in Chatswood. 

The view from my new office, with storm clouds rolling in. After Roses Only was sold and my department ceased to exist (sadface) I took a job processing invoices and all kinds of brain hurting numbersy stuff for a wine distributor. Numbersy stuff comes pretty unnaturally to me, but the level of accuracy and attention to detail this job demands is probably exactly what I need to counteract my natural flakiness.