I woke up this morning and immediately dreaded the day ahead of me. I had logged a mere 4 hours of work in the last couple of weeks. I was scared to show my face at work. Granted, I was on break, but today is Thursday, and I still hadn’t stepped foot in work. My boss is Judith Olson, a mentor to Larry Page, co-founder at Google- so I want to make a good impression. He praises her by saying her class was the one that had the most impact on him as a student. I had boarded the train of procrastination, that would cause me unnecessary stress for an extended period of time. I told myself that perhaps I would come in next week, or log my hours over the weekend. Then I remembered I had signed up for a hackathon, which is a 3-day long event over the weekend, so this was not possible.
To my credit, I am glad that I was able to muster up the willpower to get through my morning meditation. After, I lay in bed for half an hour, worrying about all that could go wrong today. It seemed like today had all the signs of a bad day, but I knew that as soon as I acknowledged this, it would most likely be one. In an attempt to stop the negative chatter, I hastened my way into my bathroom. I turned on a nice tune, and immersed myself in the form of a cold shower. New mind chatter: “Fuck fuck fuck. Cold cold cold. LET’S GO! Today is going to be great fucking day!” I present to you the magic of an icy cold shower that has the potential to jolt you with positivity.
I thought about how much that cold shower lifted my spirits. I raced out the shower and spent time cooking a hearty meal that would help kickstart my day in addition to the cold shower.
I made my way to work after class. I should have been unemployed a month and a half ago, but I was successful in asking for an employment extension, so that I could finish up the work I set out to do. In hindsight, I can give thanks to my effort to ask for an extension, otherwise I would have had no income for quite some time. Well done, Paul. After a good 3 hours of work, I asked to speak with Judy. In my head, I came up with an elaborate speech that would explain my few hours of work. “I was sick, on vacation, blah blah blah.” When I saw her I came to my senses and decided I wouldn’t give her any excuses. No one likes to hear excuses. People also tend to emphasize problems without providing any solutions. This is not ideal.
My employment contract was set to end next week(problem), so I told her I would do everything in my power to finish what I had set out to do. If not, I was going to tell her I would work for free until my job was done (my solution).
She cut me off, laughed and told me not to worry about it. Judy told me I should try and finish my work, but that I could take a couple more weeks if I had to(Judy’s solution). She was so nonchalant about the whole thing and suggested I take extra time. This was something I’ve been worrying about often, for many weeks. I was afraid something bad would happen, and this was due to poor planning. It was a silly fear that dissipated in less than a minute of conversation. It was a moment of weakness that caused my procrastination to create a month of unwanted stress(problem). It wasn’t too much stress, but it definitely occupied an unnecessary amount of headspace.
We often suffer more in imagination, than in reality
I had been working with her and her husband for over a year, and I had already got much work done. In the past, I spent time with them at their home, they took me out for champagne on a boat, and treated me to fine-dining. It was foolish for me to have the fears I had. This was a mistake that cost me a bit of stress, but something I can learn from. I could have relinquished these fears with an earlier e-mail, or simply put in more work hours.
Procrastination tends to have these sorts of snowball effects. What may initially start as a small issue, might grow exponentially over time. It is in our best interest to handle these things as they come to the best of our ability. To do otherwise would be masochistic.
To fix my issue of procrastination, I’ve turned to using multiple scheduling tools. Recently, a friend of mine recommended Wunderlist, which allows for you to set due dates and reminders with an extremely minimalistic and simplified interface. I have down all the due dates of my projects, midterm and final dates, among other things on Wunderlist. I also use Momentum to list the one big task I wish to accomplish every day, on top of writing it down in my physical notebook. It also offers a breathtaking view every time I open up a new tab.
It’s the first week of school, and it is good to be reminded again on the importance of timing and preparedness. Let us learn from our mistakes of the past and move forward methodologically. Let us set clear well-defined goals, so that we are not misguided. Let us switch angles in a timely manner, when change is necessary. Let us understand the things we can change, and understand the things outside of our control. Let us not stress about those things outside of our control.
“What gets measured gets managed”