Elizabeth: What’s Your Alligator?

As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, it’s the beginning of a whole new year.  As is traditional, we’ve been talking here on the blog about our plans for the new year – whether they involve rigorous SMART goals or the more inspirational Word-of-the-Year.

For those who have been reading along, my 2019 word is Happy, which so far has meant Sunday mornings snuggled under cozy flannel sheets, afternoons curled up with coffee and a favorite book and, much to my surprise, putting about 5,000 new words on the page.

Well that was unexpected! (Not that I’m complaining.)

At Ye Olde Day Job, this time of year is both a time for nailing down yearly goals with their detailed measurement criteria as well as a time to indulge in the latest training to “be more positive!”, “increase productivity!”, “work smarter, not harder!” and the like.

Whether it’s “Eat That Cookie” positivity training; “Eat the Frog” productivity training, or “One Minute Meditation” stress-reduction training, every year seems to bring a new method with its associated book.  I’m not sure how much positive benefit we actually see from the exercises, but at least the authors of those books are benefiting. Continue reading

Michaeline: Anti-Procrastination Pep Talk

Baby New Year with sunshine and roses and a midnight clock

Sweet baby New Year also carries a stinging, harsh whip during the final days of the old year. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

My procrastinating ways always come back to bite me in the butt in December. I think it’s true for most of the world on the Gregorian calendar, but especially in Japan, there’s a very firm cultural deadline on December 31. By about 8 p.m. that evening, you should have taken care of all your social obligations (including any gift-giving and your New Year’s cards), paid off all your debts, finished your work, prepared a feast for New Year’s snacking, and your house should be clean and tidy so that the Gods of Luck who come to visit on New Year’s Day feel inclined to stick around.

Every year, I fail miserably. However, the panicked weeks (or days, if I’ve had a rough year) of cleaning and finishing stuff up means I do start the new year in a better place. Never the ideal place, but still, noticeably cleaner and noticeably freer of looming projects and deadlines.

I started early on the New Year’s cleaning this year – I think I’ve got two things going for me. First of all, it’s about reached the “I can’t stand living in this pigsty anymore” point. (This does happen frequently throughout the year, but if I lie down for a little while in a dark room, the feeling usually goes away.) Second, I’ve been exercising regularly since the end of October, so I actually have some more energy to tackle the tasks.

I’m often on the edge of despair. “I should be so much further along than I am!” But so far, I’ve been able to pull myself back. “Look, it’s better. Don’t go into a blue funk, because even tiny baby steps are better than hibernating and doing nothing.”

Anyway, things have hit hard this week, so I have gone into a blue funk (just a little bijou, powder-blue funk), and have been self-medicating with the internet. I found two articles of interest. Continue reading

Michille: Procrastibaking

procrastibakeI’ve written about procrastination before, but I stumbled on a New York Times article: Why Work When You Can Procrastibake? I do this on a fairly regular basis but I never knew it had a name. In fact, my husband, a college professor, is getting his second teaching award in 4 years and he firmly believes it’s because he feeds his kids the baked good that I procrastibake.

Julia Moskin defines procrastibaking as the practice of baking something completely unnecessary, with the intention of avoiding “real” work and believes it to be a surprisingly common habit. Apparently, not all procrastibakers bake alike. Some make long, slow recipes that break up the entire day, returning to their work in between steps. Others whip up something quick to attempt to get the creative juices flowing. One person quoted in the article makes macarons because they can take several days. Jeez, I don’t kid myself with something that complicated. I usually do cookies, cakes, or brownies.

Procrastibaking is a thriving hashtag on Instagram so of course, I had to break and check Instagram. And it’s true. But, it’s not all good. Tim Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, says that procrastination is one of few situations in which people consistently make choices that are demonstrably bad. So I guess I can’t pass it off as being creative.

There was a quote from a romance writer, Mia Hopkins: “When I was schoolteacher, I used to procrastinate by reading and writing romances,” she said. “When I started writing romance full time, I had to find a new way to procrastinate.” Gotta love that.

What is your procrati-_________? Procratibaking, procrasticleaning, procrastisurfing (I’m also guilty of this)?

Elizabeth: Writer Interupted

The quote above pretty much sums it up for me.  Generally, the act of writing is about as appealing to me as mopping the floors or scrubbing the bathroom, but when I look back after the fact, I love the results.

Disliking the actual writing process means I’m always susceptible to procrastination.  Last night after dinner that meant, when I should have started working on this post, I instead decided to read for “just an hour.”

That was a mistake.

I blame Georgette Heyer. Continue reading

Michille: Procrasti Nation

Spring1I live there. In Procrasti Nation. Actually, I live at the place pictured to the left. That is a picture of the first day of Spring. So I had most of yesterday off, all of today, and part of tomorrow due to all that white stuff (15+ inches and some heavy snow showers still to come tonight). Did I write? No, I did not. I read. I did the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, the mini, sudoku, and 4 levels of KenKen. I shoveled. I made chili (I always do on snow days). I inventoried the freezers (we have an embarrassing number of refrigerators and freezers and an even more embarrassing amount of food in them – someone should shoot me if I buy any meat for the next 3 months [except the hog I just ordered – we’re low on pork and they only slaughter once a year]). I read some more. In case any of you didn’t notice, I will point out to you that I had most of yesterday and all of today off from my day job but nowhere in the list of activities is the word ‘write’ except in the rhetorical question. Continue reading

Elizabeth: I’ll Get Right On That

As I have said before, if procrastination was an Olympic sport, I’d be the reigning gold medalist.  Without a set deadline to aim for I’m likely to find a thousand and one things to do other than what I should be working on.   Case in point would be the eleven books I’ve read in the last three weeks, rather than finishing revisions on my Regency WIP that I was on my To Do list (I blame Georgette Heyer and Jenny Crusie for that).  The revision goal was something I had set myself so, other than being disappointed at not completing the task, there was no real consequence to it like there would have been had I missed a deliverable at the Day Job.

Way back in the McDaniel writing program days, I had my biggest word counts and most successful story development progress when there was a looming deadline.  That’s nothing new for me, of course.  Even further back, when I was doing software coding, I tended to do my best work when a deadline was closing in; often the night before something was due.  Back then, reading was my primary procrastination device.  “Let me just finish this chapter,” was my mantra.

These days, with so many things clamoring for attention – Continue reading

Elizabeth: Procrastination is my Super-Power

Now_Later_ProcrastinationI saw a sign the other day that said “I put the PRO in procrastination” and thought it described me perfectly.

Despite well thought out plans and schedules, my natural tendency is to put off tasks, especially creative tasks, until the last minute (or close to it).   Whether it’s waiting until the very last second to get up in the morning, or starting a writing task in earnest just before a deadline, procrastination is definitely my super-power.

A quick sweep of the internet turned up a number of quotes warning of the dangers of procrastination and making the case for getting to work and getting things done. Continue reading