You may not realise it, but I’m procrastinating right now. It might look as though I’m hard at work, crafting words into sentences that will form a blog post. It might appear that all of the time I spend sorting and editing photographs is highly productive, too: time well dedicated to creative endeavour.
But it’s all a great big lie.
The internet is simply enabling my innate desire to procrastinate. The whole point of procrastination, for me at least, is to make myself feel as though I’m achieving something when I’m not. Instead of sitting down and writing a story, I’ll write a blog post, which is practically the same, isn’t it? There are words. I’m putting them together. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s the same thing, or so I like to tell myself.
Then there’s the problem of rewards, which is where the whole social media thing comes in. The problem with writing is that your rewards are not immediate. If you’ve written an amazing book, it will be months and possibly even years before you will have earnt yourself the reward of readers. Unless you’re treating yourself to a cupcake or expensive cheese after every completed chapter, there’s not much in the way of reward happening there.
Social media, on the other hand, tempts me with instantaneous rewards. People can like your photograph seconds after you’ve posted it on instagram. Facebook friends will give you feedback as soon as you’ve posted your update. And my blog post will receive comments within hours, which is more than I could say for the story I should have written instead. It’s a honeyed trap. It’s addictive and I’m sure I’m using it for all the wrong reasons.
It’s a snare I should have freed myself from a long time ago.
What’s the upshot of all this? Am I giving up social media?
Probably not. All I know is that I want to create something of lasting value; something that people might remember for more than a few seconds. It’s great when a whole bunch of people like my instagram photo, but will it actually stay in their imagination? Will they even remember it existed next month? Next year?
I’ve been focussing all of my energy on things of fleeting value, instead of directing it towards things that will endure. Time spent on facebook is time I could have spent researching information for articles. An hour spent browsing through photos could have gone towards brainstorming for a story. This must change!
And this is how it will happen:
1. Check my emails twice a day.
This advice pops up all the time in articles about time management, so it must have some merit! I check my emails whenever my phone tells me one has arrived. As of tonight, I’ll turn off email notifications on my phone and restrict myself to checking emails in the morning and evening.
2. Set time aside for catching up on blogs and facebook.
This is probably where most of my time goes. From now on, I’ll set myself a certain amount of time for this.
3. Set time aside for blogging.
Generally, I spend a lot of time procrastinating instead of just sitting down and writing a blog post. Maybe if I set myself a time limit, I’ll be more productive and I’ll have more time to focus on other writing projects.
4. Cut back on blog posts.
I am aiming for two posts per week, to avoid giving myself too many opportunities for procrastination. I’m onto myself and my devious ways.
5. Take control!
This one sounds slightly pretentious but there’s no avoiding its relevance. I seem to be letting my phone and the internet dictate my actions, so it’s time to turn that around.
How does that all sound? Do we think I can stick to it? Does anyone else have any tips for making the most of my spare time?