Pandemic Post #7: Productive Procrastination. . . Sweater Shaving!?!

Apr 22, 2020

My friend Lauren in Chicago recently wrote me,

“I’ve found ways to adapt my schedule and fit in (most) of my meetings – using my Weekly Worksheet to identify priorities. But I find that I’m so easily slipping into bad habits – multi-tasking, email open, avoiding hard/creative work. My brain is different and even though I know HOW to work better, I’m struggling to adapt and truly be productive. Thoughts on how to still get hard / deep / important but less urgent work done in a time of crisis and swing back to better habits?”

Me TOO, Lauren, me TOO. And as I read more about how people are spending their time during The Great Pause, it seems some have learned to play the accordion or master the perfect pie crust (Can you send me a crisp please?! Preferably apple!) while others are working around the clock and burning with exhaustion. Very honestly, I put myself in the latter camp. That said, I’ve personally never been great at Netflix binges, sleeping late, or going on massive Marie Kondo cleanses. But I just don’t have much free time right now.

But, like every other human being, I do get tired and I do need to give myself breaks from the virtual conversion of my life’s work, the semi-schooling / feeding / playing with my kiddos, and the overall mass news consumption and Instagram scrolling.

I’d like to introduce my secret strategy here. . . let’s call it PRODUCTIVE PROCRASTINATION, shall we?

Here are a few things I’ve been doing to take a beat. No judgment please. Your body, your ride. But if you are wired like me, these tiny tasks may just help you reset your focus on the deeper work. When I get a quick hit of task completion satisfaction, I get motivated enough to dive back into design and writing.

  • Sweater shaving. STOP LAUGHING. I can hear you mocking me, but I have a bunch of wool sweaters that have accumulated massive pills to the point of becoming unwearable. And who knew, but shaving one’s sweaters is remarkably soothing – and it looks like I went shopping!

  • Food consolidating. Since Together-Land seems to be running on permanent snack time, I’m not going into full cabinet reorganization. But I have found solace in putting three half-open bags of dried apricots into one container.

  • Battery changing. I’m talking about the teeny tiny circle batteries that have impossible names, not a simple AAA swap out. The kind of battery changing that requires you to unearth the smallest of screwdrivers for that IKEA nightlight that felt like a good idea that one time, but has now been sitting on the floor, dead, for six months.

  • Vinegar refreshing. I acknowledge the privilege of owning a HUGE container of white vinegar. Noticing a musty smell from my washing machine this week, I did some research and learned that I CAN CLEAN MY WASHING MACHINE. In the past week, I’ve used white vinegar to freshen up my coffee pot, dishwasher and washing machine.
  • Two-click solutions. There is a very dead enormous tree in my front yard – and it is losing branches by the day. I stare at this tree every time I leave my house. Reporting it to the county has been on my Later List for three years, but it never felt urgent. Turns out it took two clicks online, the arborist was out here in three days, and the old gal is coming down next week.

All of these tasks were teeny-tiny and none of them NEEDED to be done immediately. But when I need to reset my brain from the monkey-mind-news-scrolling-distraction cycle, it is a small bit of satisfaction to feel like I did SOMETHING.

Talk to me. . . What would you add to this list?

Also, please, if you hear me talk about getting chickens for my backyard, stop me immediately.