I had a four day weekend because of the Christmas holiday and boy, did it ruin me. I got off my exercise schedule, then I got off my sleep schedule, and by the time Tuesday came around, I drug out of bed late, didn’t exercise, and went to work and accomplished next to nothing. Then I did the same thing Wednesday.
Disgusted with myself, I vowed to get back on the wagon Thursday
Regardless of what wagon you’ve fallen off, the first thing you need to do is identify why you fell off; that’s the only way you have any hope to change yourself for the better.
The long weekend and messed-up sleep schedule is not what made me procrastinate when I came to work. Breaking my rhythm certainly contributed to my decline, but it’s not what kept me there.
The number one cause of my procrastination? Temptation. Presented with a pleasant distraction versus a tedious task, the distraction will always win out for the procrastinator. My worse distraction? Oddly enough, not the internet (although that’s up there). Actually, my writing is my biggest distraction. So the first thing I did was leave the USB key at home (I carry my writing around on my USB key). That eliminated the temptation of writing and editing instead of doing work.
Secondly, I fell into the fallacy that because nothing on my list was terribly important or time-consuming (back to filing and billing), I could wait until the last hour of the day and get it all done. Remember, I confessed to being a person who gets a high from rushing to complete tasks; I was setting myself up to get a high.
Only it never came, because by the last hour of the day, I was not saying, “Let me run around like a chicken with my head cut off and get this stuff done.” Instead I was saying, “Eh, it’ll wait until tomorrow.”
I know, from long experience, that I am most productive shortly after waking up (studies show that the vast, vast majority of people are this way, regardless of what time they wake up). As the day goes on, my output drops exponentially. This is why I can’t exercise or clean house in the evenings after I get home from work; my energy is used up for the day.
So, when I came to work Thursday, I knocked several things off my list first thing. Accomplishment is like a snowball rolling downhill: if I make a big enough snowball early, it will continue to gather momentum as the day goes on.
And before I even got to work Thursday, I drug my ass out of bed and did some exercise. It was lame exercise–sitting on the couch, reading a book, peddling a mini stationary bike–but it was better than laying in bed and not moving at all. (Not to mention I’m reading non-fiction, so I’m being edified in the process… theoretically.) I did that for 15 minutes, then I got up and spent 15 minutes picking up the living room (which is also a form of exercise, believe me).
Everything combined, I was able to get my list done yesterday, plus I picked up 1/3rd of the living room. I did the same thing this morning and my to-do list was more than halfway done before lunch. And this morning consisted of purging old files and making new ones for 2012–not high on the excitement list, you know.
My boss asked me today what my New Year’s resolution was. I said, “The List.” 2012 is going to be about getting more crap done. All hail The List.