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I've come to the realization that I'm incapable of spending an extended time working on a single project. Instead, I have to do a little of this, then a little of that, then something else, before repeating the cycle.

Take this morning. I started by working on materials for the editing class I'm teaching next semester. My goal is to have everything prepared before the semester starts so I can work exclusively with good-to-go handouts, quizzes, editing assignments, etc. With a solid effort of four or five hours, I can have it wrapped up. Obviously, I'm not doing that right now.

Instead, I took a break awhile ago to brew a cup of tea. Then I tried to contact the key source for a story I'm working on for Business First. He was unavailable. Then I went online to subscribe to Harper's. Then I ordered a book and a CD from Amazon. Then I decided to post this before getting back to the editing class stuff for what probably won't be more than an hour. And then I'll probably hit the treadmill for 75 minutes.

And the second movement of Beethoven's Ninth just came on. Another distraction; I find it irresistible.

So I'm bouncing around like a golf ball in a parking lot.

I'm not sure if this is a Good Thing.


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 7th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
It depends on the particular project, my desire to complete it (or even work on it) and how far I've pushed it to the brink of procrastinated doom, which is quite often pretty far; I'm a master procrastinator.

I could garden from sunrise 'til sunset, not even stopping to eat if I didn't get so damn lightheaded. Cheese! Bring me some cheese!

I could watch movies for at least six hours straight if my butt didn't go numb halfway through movie #3. Same goes for reading... other than sleep overtaking me, I'd never stop by choice.

But right now, I'm supposed to be paying bills. So far, I've opened the mail, eaten some cheese, logged on to this place, and shuffled a few papers. I will get it done, but I'll bet not until late tonight. Lots of interruptions needed on bill-paying day. Oh, gotta burn a few Lyle and Hiatt cds for my chiropractor... later.

By the way, a golf ball in a parking lot is the perfect analogy.

Jan. 7th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
Good point about the gardening; I hear you. And I can fish until I get physically tired from walking in hip boots on slippery rocks.

But I can't count the number of times over break when Sherry has told me to just sit down and relax.

At least I have something to begin the conversation during my brain check-up Friday.

And as you can see, this isn't editing.
Jan. 7th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah. This ain't bill payin', neither.
Jan. 7th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC)
Ah, certainly it's editing. I'd bet you looked over that copy carefully before posting it.

And I'm doing the same thing at the moment. I can think of at least a couple of chores that really need to be done today, but instead I'm listening to a CD that came with a magazine I bought yesterday (lots of old Stax soul cuts), answering e-mail, reading and knitting a bit.

Because some of what has to get done involves the phone, I will have a lever to pry myself out of this sloth shortly. I think...
Jan. 7th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
I think the Stax cuts should be your priority.
Jan. 7th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
I did get a chance to hear the whole CD -- worth the price of the magazine (and there are some good articles I've still not read).

But yeah, I did finally get some of that other stuff done.
Jan. 7th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
I'm just glad to know I'm not the only scatter-brained one around here!! :)
Jan. 8th, 2008 02:37 am (UTC)
I blame it on Bombay Sapphire -- or chocolate martinis, as the case may be.
Jan. 8th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
I'm the same way. I used to be hopeless at writing essays in college unless I had at least two to write at once. (Having one essay and one other thing to do, especially since one of the other things happened to be a hypnotically simple computer game, didn't work as well. The other thing had to be at least as odious as the essay, because I had to hate each thing enough to go back to the other, and few things were as odious as the essays I was supposed to write.)

I find this same tendency manifesting itself now in my housewifery. I can't just clean the kitchen because I'll take all the dirty washcloths and towels to the washing machine, and find some other stuff that needs to be washed, and then I'll find other things on the bedroom floor that need picking up, so I'll do that, and then I'll take some of them to the living room because they belong there. So I end up with a kitchen that's half-clean, laundry that's still in the washing machine because I haven't gotten around to taking it out yet (probably doing important computer-game-playing) and a living room that still doesn't have a place for everything, much less everything in its place.
Jan. 8th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
Your second paragraph is frightening, because I know exactly what you're talking about. Exactly.
Jan. 8th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
Sorry for scaring you. :) Hope it's some consolation to know you're not alone.
Jan. 8th, 2008 05:14 am (UTC)
I am exactly the same way.
Jan. 8th, 2008 11:39 am (UTC)
I've decided this week to accept it and plan my tasks according to the way I work as opposed to the way I think I ought to work.
Jan. 8th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
I find I work that way too a lot of the time, but it usually proves beneficial for me. I write better if I'm *into* what I'm writing, so when my concentration wanes, I give myself a break and come back to it. Yes, this leads to taking longer to get things done, but they do get done, and done better than if I forced myself. If I plan adequate time to accomodate this style, works fine.
Jan. 8th, 2008 08:03 pm (UTC)
Your comments make a lot of sense, Lizz.

I've been thinking quite a bit about this. What's going on here is that I worked 23 years in a business with continuous deadlines. There was never a let-up. The newspaper comes out, you've got a good story in it, and the first thing your boss says, "Whaddya got for tomorrow?" And so for 23 years I worked with one eye on the clock and the other one on a task that absolutely had to be done by deadline.

Now, with deadlines much more flexible, I can't summon up that race-to-the-wire focus. So, as you say, I've got to think differently about task and time management.
Jan. 8th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
Exactly! it's easy to work under pressure, a deadline for example, because it keeps you under its thumb, focused on the task at hand out of necessity. With the fire at your back, it's easy to run, no? But if there's no external motivation to have something done all at once, with one shot, then I'm less likely to do it that way. Maybe it's worth considering that those of us (like me, for example) who "work best under pressure" do so because the lack of pressure leaves us no motivation to do any work at all.
Jan. 8th, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
If the CD and book you ordered are good, then all will be forgiven.
Jan. 8th, 2008 10:01 pm (UTC)
The book is a collection of essays about nature by Edward Hoagland. A couple of months ago, Hanch gave me a couple of issues of Harper's; I finally got to them during the break. In one of them, Hoagland wrote an essay called "Endgame: Meditations on a Diminishing World," and reading it was like reading something from Dillard's "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" -- beautiful language and imagery -- although Hoagland takes a break from the poetry more than once to essentially say, "Shame, shame" for our alleged stewardship of the Earth. After reading the essay, I knew I had to read more of him.

The CD is one from Way Back Then: King Crimson, "In the Court of the Crimson King." The book and disc shipped today.
Jan. 8th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
Oo, I'd like to get a copy of that Hoagland essay if you still ahve a copy somewhere. Sounds interesting.
Jan. 9th, 2008 04:25 am (UTC)
I can't bring myself to even start the errands that I've been meaning to do since the beginning of break, so I'm impressed that you have at least begun to work on your projects. At least you know that when you get the urge to really sit down and work, you'll already have a good head start.
Jan. 9th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
As for your errands, my father always used to say that the work you have to do expands to fill all the time available to do it.
Jan. 9th, 2008 08:18 pm (UTC)
LM in CO here. I take a felixwas break just about every day as I sit slaving at my desk. It's either that or look out at the mountains, but either way, procrastination is king...
Jan. 9th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
I caught a show on PBS Saturday about a narrow-gauge railroad out there: the Silverton or Silverado & Something. It showed an incredibly scenic route, with the route carved into the sides of mountains. Beautiful, beautiful country.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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