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Christopher Burns Christopher Burns
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There are they are, waiting. Suddenly, out from nowhere they emerge. It's like a nervous tic, really. Or a Tourette. Setting in slow like a simmer, or rapidly and pronounced like a fever.


Here I am needing to get things done and generally be a productive member of society. A very simple wish.

But the second I sit down to do homework, taxes and billing or write, I get hit with the fever. You know what I'm talking about.

It's innocuous, at first. I should do the dishes before I start. Just in case someone needs the pot or strainer. Besides it's a good idea to stay on top of the dishes so that they don't pile up, right? Oh, shoot. The counter - I forgot to wipe it down earlier. Better wipe it up now. Crap. Now the crumbs are on the floor. Should probably sweep that up, or else ants. Well, since I swept the floor might as well mop it. I mean, I'm right here, it'll take all of a minute.

And before I know it, the spontaneous list of things I ought to do grows exponentially. However, what I set out to do initially is nowhere in sight. Nine times out of 10 it's completely fallen by the wayside, and my propensity for completing it, whatever it is, has gone the way of disco and the dodo. Bam-voom. Gone. Done. Extinguished. Out to pasture.

But hey, got all of those chores done and the house is as organized and clean as Howard Hughes's bungalow.

If I put as much effort into real work as these evasive maneuvers, I could get some real work done. 

We all experience this phenomenon. Procrastination is the art of accomplishing mundane tasks irrelevant to our goals. And we can be dang good at it.

The problem is, modern life provides too many options for putting off what ought to be done today. This may include the obsessive compulsion to tidy and square away, or a number of more entertaining options. Netflix has been the detriment to many serious jobs but man, it's awesome being able to watch Mike Rowe whenever I want. Video games are another I'm not much of a gamer, but I've had binges of 'Fallout: New Vegas' that produced a 'I just can't believe I did that' feeling anyone who's gone crazy at the buffet knows only too well. Then there's Wikipedia golf anyone who's started out reading an article on James Franco and ended up reading about the life of hunter-gatherers is familiar with this phenomenon.

Ultimately, distraction comes down to what is easier and more fun. We all just want to have fun. What we do for work and a hobby should be fun, but sometimes there are things that we need to get done. The toughest thing certainly is overcoming the compulsion to be carried by a whim.

For myself it's a matter of creating the right environment to get work done in. Good music. An open window. Plenty of lighting. A solid schedule. With a good game plan, usually the work is done faster and better. I find even that I end up with plenty of time to just goof off and watch Mike Rowe. Don't hesitate and put those things off. Cross the items off the list and watch as your sense of accomplishment climbs higher and higher. You earned that time to laze about and enjoy it.


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