An Hour of Procrastination - THE PROJECT

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Procrastinator #2: I haven't filled in the forms because

Pseudonym: Jenny
Date: Wednesday 24 March
Exact Location: Jenny's Home
The Task at Hand: filling in leave forms, reimbursement forms and making me do my phd
The Reason: I haven't filled in the forms because I'm lazy, and can't be bothered. The phd is pretty much the same.

I've just returned from Procrastinator #2. I'm eating ravioli that has gone bright pink from the beetroot, am listening to Elvis. It feels too cold outside to frolic – all is pretty nice.

This one was quite tough, the request was 'filling in leave forms, reimbursement forms and making me do my phd'. I was pretty sure we weren't going to get her PhD done in an hour so I suggested we focus on the leave forms. She hadn't printed them out but was very excited about setting up a computer for me to print them out for her. This is where I explained, no, I'm not doing it for you – with you. She then confessed that her PhD is definitely the bigger problem and often used things like filling in forms to procrastinate.

She feels lazy, but after chatting for a while she is far from it. She has way too much to do. Full time work, PhD, busy social life, exercisey stuff and so on. Jenny has worked to a routine before and doesn't like it but it's almost like now she has way too much time that she's allowed to run free in it and things aren't getting done. I dunno, somehow I think you need some kind of structure, even if it is to rebel against it to find how how you really do want to get things done and ways that you work best. I know I'm most creative and productive really late at night. Given that I work 9-5pm I have to go to bed at a reasonable hour so I miss these few hours that strike for everybody at different times of the day. It does mean that sometimes I will end up doing work in my bed just before I go to sleep, knowing that I'll be highly productive between 9-12, but not get my drift?

It felt entirely weird taking on this 'nasty-super-nanny' role...except, it was less 'super-nanny' more friend/parental intervention. Only the kind of conversations you have with those who are really your nearest and dearest, not just your good friends. I honestly don't think that Jenny is lazy, I think she needs a little structure. She needs to try to work during the day like all of her friends do – that way, when they're all at the pub or doing nice things she can go too as opposed to resentfully staying home and not getting anything done anyway OR going to pub and really not getting anything done.

We came up with a schedule for her to follow for a week to fit in work, PhD, going to the gym and socialising. We set up a 'behaviour list', her words not mine which included things like only going on Facebook once every hour when working and once every two hours when she is doing her PhD. She works at home so she now has to leave the house by 8.30am every day, has scheduled lunch breaks and finishing times and can do whatever she feels like after 6pm as long as it's not so boozy that she winds up with a hangover. Weekends are free range.

She was overwhelmed by so much change in one go. The idea however, is to figure out what works and what doesn't. I don't think that the schedule is too extreme – she has a lot to do – it gives her free time where she doesn't have to think about anything and there is flexibility to do a 'trade-in' with her 9-12pm (3hr PhD Timeslot) to be shifted to the evening – she needs to do the agreed 3 hours though.

We have a lunch date booked in next Thursday to assess how she's going. We realised that she needed some kind of incentive or punishment, we talked monetary fines but she then said it has to be something that I control... I now have top-secret goods to exploit should she have wasted her hour with me.

I left her for the afternoon to do a proper to-do list, to break down her PhD into tasks, to start reviewing an article and then it all starts tomorrow.

I'm rather curious to see how the week goes.

OK - Now it's 5.30pm and I myself have procrastinated from finishing writing this. I just got a text from Procrastinator #2

Jenny: "Oh god, my phone even has FB notifications that I need to turn off! No wonder I don't get anything done"
Anna: "How did your day go?"
Jenny: "Not finished quite yet, going to work until 7. It's been tough, but not so bad really. Some internet withdrawal :) Frank said my absence from the internet makes it seem like I'm dead. Found a bunch of new organisational tools too :)

Hmmm, bit dubious about these 'organisational tools'.

Keep you posted
Anna xx

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