Productive Procrastination

8042328215_9a7747daf8_zRight now, this very moment, as I’m typing these words, I have a gaggle of kids in my basement. Not all of them are mine. Some are counting loudly for no apparent reason; they are not even playing hide and seek. One is wearing a Spiderman costume; and we are nowhere near Halloween. Another is—well, I don’t exactly know what he is doing, but there is some discussion about a super bunny and the best way to kill bees. And evil aliens. They all see evil aliens.

Hey, we’re heading towards the end of my blog series on cultivating creativity based off Mary Laura Philpott’s 28 brilliant creators post on I Miss You When I Blink, and today we’re taking a look at Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay. Forman exclaims, “I don’t know! I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep it up. I start on one thing, and then another thing starts pecking away at me. I just work on multiple things until something wins the endurance contest.”

Oh, let me tell you about all the pots in the fire (not including the gaggle of kids in the basement). I just finished putting in final grades for three classes, I’m in the middle of my work in progress, searching for a full-time gig that I not only will love but comes complete with dental insurance, this blogging thing, inklings of another novel, slowly working on a smaller novella, and oh yeah I am also putting the finishing touches on The Dog Must Die: Plotting and Structure Online Workshop, and I’m seriously thinking about putting together a proposal for an academic paper on the film Hunger. The kids in the basement are the cake’s icing.

And I forgot! The piece I’m doing on Eureka Street and a comparison to American film noir.

Grad school seemed way more structured than this real life thing. And not as crazy or busy. One of my teachers said she practiced what she called productive procrastination. At the beginning of the semester, she made a list of everything she had to do. When a project stared her down that she didn’t want to tackle, she picked something else on the list. I have often approached my to-do list in the same manner, and the approach works well except when you have time-sensitive deadlines, but even then as the deadline looms dangerously close…

Eventually the list is completed. I also have a whole long collection of friendly apps that help me along:

  • Google calendar, I would be lost without.
  • Scrivener breaks writing down into small bite size chunks.
  • Windows’ Sticky Notes
  • A Google Spreadsheet that automatically tweets for me—yes, I machine tweet, but if you follow me, you’ll soon realize I talk all the time too, which is probably why I am not as productive as I should be.
  • Lastly, having my daughter do the dishes—wait, that’s not an app.


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