Image: Jill Binder on the rickety balcony in Montreal with the plants and the view of the brick buildings, July 2016
On July 14th, 2016, I was being pretty hard on myself.
Normally a Vancouverite, I was sitting in my July-in-Montreal sublet adventure—on the rickety balcony with the plants and the view of the brick buildings—and I was staring at my screen.
I had a website coding deadline for a client.
I didn’t want to do it.
That’s not right. I wanted to do it, but I just… couldn’t. All I had in me that day was staring, not doing.
“Well this is silly,” I told myself. “I’m a productivity nerd. I’ve lectured friends about productivity a thousand times. I know how to do this. In fact, I could write out the steps to do this and then follow those steps.” (I love lists and steps.)
Before I knew it, I had written out an (unpublished) blog post.
Was I then ready to do the thing? No, I had more procrastination left in me. “It would be better if I had a web page that walked me through doing these steps, carrying the info forward to each step, giving me a timer, etc. Then I will be able to focus on my work easily.” (I have excellent procrastination logic.)
At the time I pointed to someone else’s online countdown timer that I could change from my page. I set it for 25 minutes, a standard Pomodoro sprint. I still just couldn’t. The thought of even the “doing nothing” step (more on that another time) was too much.
I told myself, “Ok, 10 minutes or bust.” I changed the timer to 10 minutes and you know what? I finished my original task in that 10 minutes.