Only two hands, only one brain

4929281_mIn my continuing quest to find the root of my procrastination and thus rid myself of it, I’ve identified an attitude that is probably a big contributor.

It goes like this: Multitasking is good, right?  You’re not a productive worker or serious student unless you’re doing multiple things at the same time, right?

I actually don’t think that’s true for me, and I have to stop feeling guilty about that.  If procrastination is fueled in part by negative self-talk, berating myself for not being like the dame in this cartoon surely must be a factor. I have to tell myself it’s okay that I work best when I sit down, do only one job until it’s the best it can be, and then move on to the next.

When I started working from home I read a lot about time management techniques; most productivity gurus say that a key to good time management is to identify priorities and then block out time to work on just one task.  Many pages of my day planner attest to my attempt to do that.  Sometimes they are successful. It’s self-discipline that makes the difference, but knowing how much time to allot to a particular task is as much a part of good work scheduling as the prioritization is.

I think it’s become part of American culture that people are always “busy.”  I hear that so much when I try to interest people in activities such as Toastmasters.

Oh, I’m just too busy!

Oh, I’m so busy!

I’d like to but I’m just so busy!

I call bullcrap on all that.  I realize that in some cases that’s just a polite way for people to express their lack of interest, but I also think that people really do overload themselves – or perhaps like me, they’re just not prioritizing.  Time Management Ninja agrees.

My fault may be simply not allotting enough time to do just one – and only one – thing. For the past six days I have been putting off writing a piece I committed to for  Why have I put it off?  Generally because of my horrible procrastination, but if I try to examine it more closely, I think that I just haven’t been willing to acknowledge that it might take me a couple hours to write and polish even a 1000-word piece that requires barely any reporting.  I should cut myself a break. Hopefully if I start acknowledging that (1) I can only do one thing at a time, and (2) it may take me longer than seems reasonable to complete it, I will start getting better at working faster.  Maybe I will also identify what activities I need to simply stop doing because they are using time that I need to devote to the important things in my life – writing and studying.

It’s 9:52 a.m.  I am going to allow myself to take until noon to finish the Realcity piece.  Yes, it’s 1000 words, almost no reporting, and I’ve already written well over 1000 words, but I am not going to give in to the idea that I “should” be able to finish it in half an hour, or even an hour.  I’m setting a goal of finishing in two hours.  And it if it’s not up to my standards at noon I will just keep working on it till I’m happy with it (although I did say I would finally hand it in this morning and the editors are on the east coast).  When I am done I will get the “I’m finally finished” rush and I will be refreshed and ready to move on.

I refuse to ever be “too busy.”


  1. 12:37 pm: Still working on it. Will work till done. It remains a little long and I’m debating handing it in long and letting the editor decide what to keep. I did email him to let him know I’m progressing.

  2. After day-long problems with sending emails, I…just…emailed…this piece. Tomorrow is a new day. All I have left on my plate is school. Time to take a sleeping pill, watch some reruns and off to dream land.

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