Me — Procrastination as Efficiency

I’m a person mostly characterized by hyper-productivity. I have to be making the most of my time by multitasking 24/7, if I can help it. I listen to podcasts at 1.25x speed and when I’m relaxing, playing games or whatever because in a way, playing video games feels like a waste of time. Not that I mind, of course, because time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

So I like being efficient with my time. Obviously I can’t be multitasking when I’m doing more intensive things like writing. I can have a podcast on in the background of course, but I either won’t be listening to the podcast or, much more likely, won’t be getting any writing done. So if I’m writing, I sit, sometimes in silence, and write.

But I’ve noticed something, and that realization has led to something terrible. That is the fact that I use my time much more efficiently when I procrastinate my writing, whether its for school, my blog, or just personal projects I’m working on. If I’m working on a project when the deadline is a week or two away, I get distracted very easily, because I know there’s no pressure. Anything I get done now is ahead of schedule, so I don’t even need to work. This leads to me wasting a lot of time trying to write but not being able to work up the discipline to hunker down.

On the flipside, if I wait for the last possible moment to write, I can crank out whatever it is in minutes. Take blog posts for example. I have them set to publish at 5am, so often I’ll end up writing them at 11pm the night before, literally the last thing I do before I go to bed. It would put my mind at ease if I got it out of the way in the morning, (especially on Sundays like this one where I didn’t actually do much else), and yet I didn’t.

You see I’ve noticed that I’m far more efficient when I don’t get to work until there is only one time slot I have free between now and that deadline. No, I never let it get to the point where I’m chugging coffee as I vomit words on the screen at 3am the night before my 8am class, but when this happen it does tend to cut into my sleep schedule and it often makes the next morning harder to bear.

This has led to a strange moment where learning something about myself has actually been to my own detriment. If I never realized how much easier it is to write when I don’t have any more time to write, I probably wouldn’t let it happen as much as I do now, which is to say, pretty much always. When I wait for the last moment to write, I’m often tired and my priority turns into getting it done so I can go to sleep rather than creating a masterpiece. As a result, I do think it harms the quality of whatever it is I’m working on, but it’s a tough habit to get out of.

I’d like to come up with a solution that allows me to be efficient with my writing and proactive so that I can relax as the deadline approaches, but working up the discipline to complete a project well before it needs to be done is tricky, as I’m sure you would agree.

At the same time, perhaps it’s just a professional work habit I just need to learn how to live with and get better at. Maybe I can find ways to better prepare myself for working on things at the last minute, such as outlining or officially dedicating time slots in the day towards work. Who knows.

 

Me — New Job and Feeling Good

I’m in a really interesting spot in my life in that I’m very content. It’s sort of strange that that’s the case, given that I didn’t win the scholarship and I was excited for the prospect of leaving the country for the first time (plus I felt I had a really strong application this year). I also intended to both get my own car soon as well as move out. I don’t think either of those two are likely to happen any time soon, and yet… it’s fine.

I really love my new job. Working around machines and materials worth hundreds or thousands of dollars is stressful, sure, but it suits me far better than my previous taxable job at Target. I’m part of a small team and the things that need to be done take a long time, so on a full shift, I’ll probably be doing a total of four or five things for the entire day. There’s a lot I need to learn, but once you know what you’re doing these things are pretty simple. (Plus having somebody always there to double check whether you’re doing something right is good insurance.)

So, my life is pretty busy right now. I’m at the college for 24 hours a week, and at work 21 hours a week. Not including the homework from all my classes, writing blog stuff, teaching improv, and going to my writer’s group, I’m busy 45 hours out of the week. Nothing to sneeze at, sure, but then you throw in the 10 page research paper due in two weeks (that I haven’t started), the One Act play I’ll need to edit soon, and you know, other things I want to work on… and well, there goes all my free time. I’m trying to get through Hollow Knight right now, but man, it’s a much longer game than I anticipated.

The weirdest thing about my contentedness is the fact that I’m not currently writing any fiction. I left Lisa 3 half finished, Lisa 2 needs to be completely rewritten, and I have interesting ideas floating around in my head that I’m basically not giving much attention. A few years ago I’d have been stressed out by my lack of writing, but right now I feel fine because I’m already doing so much other stuff, that I know my writing would suffer if I tried. Staying up till 2am writing a thing after playing video games because I felt I needed a break was super unhealthy, so not forcing myself to write has been nice.

Added bonus: my job has required me to get up earlier, and since I no longer have any days off during the week, I’m waking up pretty much every day. Yesterday I slept in and didn’t get out of bed until 8:45am! Not feeling tired and having that be the natural time I woke up was the best feeling in the world, because I suddenly had so much time in the day. I hope I can make that a habit, getting out of bed at 11am feels bad.

I also just realized that my 600th post was a few days ago. I’m probably well over half a million words posted on my blog at this point. Go milestones!

Life — Spear Gate Web Series

I’ve recently changed my website up a little bit, rearranging the categories in the sidebar. Most importantly, I’ve given the Spear Gate story it’s own category, because I update it at least once a week. I’ve also made the change because I’ve started thinking about the story in a new light.

I don’t really know what I find so appealing about considering the Spear Gate universe a constantly updated “web story” rather than a book. Maybe it’s the implied lack of editing. Maybe it’s the distinctive lack of a conclusion, and therefore no pressure to constantly increase the tension. Whatever the reason, my handling of the story has been much more conducive to periodic increments anyway, since a lot of webcomics don’t necessarily have an ending in mind, and therefore the artists get to tackle things in the moment.

The best thing about this is that it doesn’t actually change anything, really. I’m still writing it on a chapter by chapter basis, and if it gets long enough, nothing is stopping me from shuffling some words around and publishing it as a book (series?) anyway. If that happens, I wouldn’t even take down the original chapters, because the ones in the book are bound to be a different read anyway. If that’s the case, somebody can enjoy the Spear Gate story, then buy the book for a new experience because the story will be slightly different.

Here’s pretty much the only con I can think of about this process. It means if I did eventually put it into a book, I would be hard-pressed to make big edits, because I would want the book to be an enhanced experience rather than a fundamentally different one. I’m not sure how webcomics get turned into published books, but I can’t imagine it’s all that different. But really, regardless of what happens, this isn’t even something I would have to worry about until at least a year down the line, so there’s no point in dwelling on it!

As a side note, I started this blog to get more writing done. I’ve more than achieved that goal. I can always get more writing in, of course, but I think at this point I should start trying to bring in more people. Everyone that’s been keeping up with Spear Gate has told me how much they love it, and it makes me wish that more people kept up with it. It’s barely 1,000 words a week, but I can definitely see how webcomics would inherently be more appealing than walls of text. That said, I’m not sure how to go about gaining more of a following. It’s not like art where you get following from being awesome. For me, that’s how I’d retain audience, but that person has to to take a leap of faith and trust I won’t waste their time on their first read-through. Maybe if I get somebody to work on the art for the universe I can draw more people in…

Life — It’s the Heat’s Fault.

Well, it’s finally happened. I’ve actually managed to completely forget writing the next day’s post. I’ve come close a few times. Lying in bed, thinking about what I got done that day, I’ll remember the fact that I had meant to write something but never got around to it. In those circumstances I’d get up and write. Even at two in the morning when I’d have to wake up early.

But last night that didn’t happen. I didn’t get home until past midnight, and I wanted to relax a bit before going to bed. In bed, I realized I had forgotten to do homework for my 8:30am class. But even then, I was too tired. I resolved to get up earlier to do it. Having assumed everything was settled, I went to sleep (though it took a while because it was so hot out). So, while I did forget to prepare a post ahead of time, I won’t let myself skip a day (again) with no valid excuse. So here it is, even if it is a bit late.

I actually feel perfectly justified blaming all of this on the heat. It’s hard for me to even think straight when it gets too hot, and even with air conditioning and fans, lately it hasn’t solved the problem. (I don’t even have a computer in my room to be generating heat!)

I don’t “like” writing. But it gives me fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment, so I do it. It’s never easy, but when it’s hot, all I can think about doing is try to stop being hot. For me, this means below 75 Farenheit. With the state of the weather lately, that means I have to be out in public where the air conditioning is overkill, and that means I can’t comfortably write or sleep, so there’s no winning.

I feel like June through August is just a state of “getting by” for me. It’s always a struggle simply because of where I am, who I am, and what my life is centered around. It’s the point where I have to swallow the net loss and accept that when everything cools down, both literally and figuratively, I can produce more, and have an all around more enjoyable existence.

This is pretty much why I hate California. I shouldn’t hate 25% of every year simply because of things I have no control over. I’m not going to get into that today, though. I’ve talked about it before, and there’s no use in whining over being a victim of circumstance.

Really, though, I think I could be happy if it weren’t for the heat. Despite my apprehensions about my current writing system in general, I do like where Spear Gate stands, and my semester is bearable. I’m super tired every day, but I can shrug it off.

I don’t like being trapped inside because cracking a window open means the house might melt. So, I’m just sitting here. Biding my time. Twiddling my thumbs. Waiting for October to come when it starts, finally, getting cooler.

Life — Scheduling a “Catch Up” Day

Recently my life has been so busy that I’ve had things piling up more and more. The sort of things that aren’t urgent but do need to get done, like ordering textbooks online, or talking to people about future plans, etc. This sort of thing is almost never in the forefront of my mind, simply because there’s always something more pressing, and when there isn’t, I’m too tired to do it.

So, how do you make sure you don’t let those things fall by the wayside? It’s pretty simple, really. Maybe you’ve heard of the priority analogy called “The Jar of Life”. Important things like livelihood, family, friends, etc. are ping pong balls, less important things like your job, house, and hobbies are marbles, and the trivial stuff like what you do with your free time is sand. If you start big and add the unimportant things in later, you’ll have room for everything. If you fill the jar with sand first, you won’t have room for ping pong balls.

Now, this analogy is intended to teach you about priorities, so it’s not entirely relevant, but bear with me. These side jobs that need to handled but aren’t important for your direct, day to day life can often be forgotten. They’re marbles, but they are also a source of stress because they can be unconscious baggage on your addled mind. You know you’ve got lots to do, but you’re too busy to get it done, and when you get home you know you won’t have the energy to do any more, so it becomes a vicious cycle.

Here’s how I handle it. I keep track of everything I need to get done. (I put this list on my phone so I always have access to it.) Then, I resolve to spend the most convenient day off working on those errands. I don’t treat it as a day off at all, in fact. For that day, all of those errands have top priority, and I need to get as much of it done as possible. Depending on how quickly errands pile up, this “Catch Up” Day could be weekly routine for you. Otherwise, you might only want to schedule it once you have enough stuff to justify spending the day doing them.

This accomplishes two things. One, knowing what you have to do and resolving to do it all at once will get it done quicker. You won’t have to worry about squeezing in an errand between work and relaxation. Two, it is extremely relieving to get everything done. You may not consciously perceive that burden of things you know you have to do, but once you clear it up, it feels great. You can rest easy knowing all the non-urgent stuff that needs doing has been done.

Personally, I’ve found this to be a great conclusion to the week, because when I get back to work/school the next day, I’ll feel like I’ve already been extremely productive. Even if, realistically, it means discarding my only day off, that one carefree night of sleep is worth the trouble.

Life — Technical Difficulties

Electronics has never been my strong suit. I know enough about them to be able to tell the difference between software and hardware, and can probably handle one better than somebody who saw the rise of technology in their adulthood, but as far as “Here is a problem what do you do?” goes, I’m pretty useless.

I have three devices I use daily. My desktop, my laptop, and my phone. All of them have had their problems, but rarely has it been as bad as this. I call right now my “technological dark age” (as I think is appropriate), because all of my devices are crapping out on me.

My desktop is officially dead. On it’s final day, it blue screened twice, and best I can tell, it’s motherboard is finished. I couldn’t tell you what a motherboard does, but suffice to say that the next desktop I have sole ownership of will have to be a new one. There’s no salvaging Frank. (Yes, my family has owned enough computers to name them.)

But it’s okay, though. I don’t need a desktop. All of my writing is stored on the Cloud, so the only thing I’m losing by throwing the old computer out is a few downloaded pictures. It does suck, because my wallpaper folder had over four hundred pieces of quality art, but it’s no big deal.

So lately, I’ve been deferring all of my internet use to my laptop. I don’t have to worry about maintaining the blog, but it has other setbacks. Use of my laptop has lead me to discover that it is also barely functional. You see, It has less than 30GB of storage space, virtually (ha) all of which is taken up by the operating system. This means that whenever I open a third tab on my browser, or when I open a Google Doc of any substantial size, my browser will crash because it doesn’t have the RAM to handle it. It’s a little frustrating because when I’m DMing a game of Dungeons & Dragons I sort of need to have three or four tabs open of all sorts of information I may or may not need.

It leaves me at a loss, especially since I’m under the impression that there’s nothing I can do to my laptop that will solve that problem. I just have to get a new laptop. Not really though, because it’s not nearly enough of an issue to constitute putting money away for it, especially when I get my new desktop.

As far as my phone goes, it’s simply up to its old antics. It will take several seconds to respond to input, and sometimes apps will crash while I’m using them. Again, not a big deal, but it is annoying, and these are all minor sources of frustration that can pile up throughout the day.

But in the meantime, it’s also sort of liberating. I haven’t been able to access a vast majority of the video games I usually play, and I’m not really upset about it at all, to be honest. Less internet is never really a bad thing, unless you’re procrastinating, so it’s nice. I’ve been reading more, and I’ve also been sleeping in much later than I normally do. The latter isn’t really a cause of my computer troubles, though. It’s just super hot and since I can’t be comfortable in bed, I don’t fall asleep until past 4am, like last night. If I were to change any one thing about my current circumstance, it would actually be my ability to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.

Had I the world’s knowledge to diagnose all the problems I have, I’m sure I could solve all of them within days, but I suppose that probably applies to a majority of people’s situations. All-in-all, I still think I’m doing pretty well. A little frustrated, perhaps, but not stressed or over-taxed. I know what that’s like, and I’m thankful I’m nowhere near that point at the moment.

Life — Obsessive Organization

Lately I’ve been embracing the fact that I just love putting everything in figurative boxes. I use Google Drive for all of my writing purposes, and everything is neatly organized in folders inside folders inside folders.

If I told you to go to find an essay I wrote in English class of my senior year in high school, it would be pretty easy. You just go open the following folders (and sub-folders): School -> [Name of High School] -> Senior Year -> English -> “Essay”. If I wanted to open the folder of my current major project, the “Spear Gate” book, it’s the same thing: Writing -> Books -> Spear Gate. I’m a little neurotic about it, to be honest. Just for fun, I’ve considered drawing a visual stem of all my documents in Google Drive just so I can see just how deep and organized it really is.

But in recent weeks, I’ve done more. I’ve made a dedicated folder entitled “Data”, filled with lots of information I like to keep track of. That’s where I keep my list of books I’ve read, the books I intend to read soon, descriptions of the books in my brother’s Audible library, etc. About a week ago I made a spreadsheet I call the “Hype Tracker”. In it is all the release and premiere dates of all the games, books, and movies I’m anticipating, as well as other important future dates I don’t want to forget. Using that spreadsheet I can easily grasp how long I’ll have to play X anticipated game until Y game releases. It may sound pretty useless, but I actually open it almost daily.

Tomorrow, I plan on making another thing: a timeline of basically everything that’s happened in my life. I hate having to do math to figure out how old I was when something happened, so if I lay out a timeline, all I’ll have to do is graph the year and my age to put everything into an easy perspective. It’s probably going to be the highlight of my day tomorrow. Not because my life is (that) boring, but because I actually enjoy that sort of thing.

It makes me wonder whether I’m really meant to be a writer, to be honest. Not in like a “I don’t know who I am” sort of way, but in a confused “Why?” sort of way. I cannot in any way see how I can implement data entry into my writing, and the two seem to be as far apart from each other as it is possible to be.

There’s so much I want to do. I want to be an author. I want to compile the lore for video games. I want to perform and teach more improv. I want to get into voice acting. And I also like numbers and data. Sesame Street might say that one of these things is not like the others, I suppose.

But at the same time, it might not be that weird. I’d imagine the common stereotype of a writer and an actor are two very different things, one trapped in a dark room all day trying to catch a break, the other making bank as they sell their millionth copy (see what I did there?) The way I see it, though, writing and acting aren’t very different at all. Being a part of both of those fields, I would actually say they’re very similar to one another. Maybe I’ll talk about that next week, in fact!