Post Its Vs Procrastination

Since I got into Medium I have read more blogs about managing my time or motivation than I have actually spent doing either of those things.

And that's because it is so much nicer to read about how it feels to be more efficient than to actually be more efficient. It is the perfect way to procrastinate. It feels productive because you’re wasting time by learning how not to waste time. The key is to never implement anything you read about. If you do that the whole thing breaks and you find yourself Doing Stuff, which as we all know, because our anxieties tell us, is The Worst Thing in the World.

Welcome to metaprocrastination.

But eventually I get sick of my own crap, as most procrastinators do, and finally bite the bullet and Do Stuff. And this is the thing I did:

It was suggested to me through the Systems Changers programme and is quite wonderful. Post its and bright colours really do make the world a better place to be.

There’s not much to explain, I just move post its along until they reach their final destination underneath ‘Done’. I’ve been using it for a bunch of weeks now and here’s how its been going.

1. I learnt is that I need to get either better post its or a better wall. They are actually all blue tacked up there which is stupid. Artex, matt paint and post it glue are not friends and they never will be.

2. I discovered the Doing category super helpful for the perpetually distracted. When I lose my train of thought or get dragged into some irrelevant task and forget what I had been doing, it's there on my wall in black and white (or green and yellow). The singular post it under Doing is my homebase.

3. The next thing I discovered is how freaking great it is to get to the end of the week and see Done smothered in completed tasks. Do not remove post its as you go. Leave them in Done, allow them to cover your wall, to blur into the Doing category! Take a deep breath and enjoy it. This weekend you are about to enjoy, you worked hard for it. All that battling, you got through them. See how many tasks there are that seemed awful that are now done!

4. Rather predictably, the thing I noticed next was how good it felt to come in on a Monday morning and see all them Done post its. This bit is important. Mondays are a great opportunity to ruin the week. Start well and you’ve got momentum. Start badly and building momentum on Tuesday will be even harder. Wednesday is even worse. The beautiful thing about this is that I never forget how difficult the week before felt (the optimist that I am!) so seeing that all that hard work went somewhere helps me begin the hard work of the next week.

5. The other thing that helps me get going on Monday is the Clean Up. Its the bit where I throw away the Done and repopulate the To Do so I can begin working on this week. Its important to clear out the Done each week otherwise I start living on the productivity of yesteryear. It just feeds my idiotic sense of entitlement to procrastination.

Instead, I have to prove myself each week.

The Clean Up is also important because out of date tasks sitting in the To Do list is so unhelpful. The To Do has to be current. If I have to think too hard about what to do next, or analyse it before choosing a task, that’s just another opportunity to slide into my own head. I end up distracted with questions like “Why do we prioritise in the way that we do? … Should we?” They’re good questions, but they don’t need addressing every 2 hours.

6. My most recent development is what triggered this blog. Today I pulled all the Done post its off, looked at the pile, screwed it up, about to throw it away, but instead I spent 5 minutes writing a list of cool things I did last week.

I turned “Email estate agent” into “tried to help a guy set up a repayment plan to avoid eviction”

“Phone Janet” became “reached out to someone who is burying her head in the sand.”

“Phone back Penny” became “coordinated rent in advance so a woman fleeing domestic violence with her little girl could access long term accommodation.”

“Go to court” became “I saved a family from eviction.”

I very quickly discovered that I was writing myself a list of reasons I do my job. And the challenge now is to be able to create a similar list next week.

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