Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Time Management Tuesday: The "Four Thousand Weeks" Read Part 3

Turns Out There Is Good Procrastination. Who Knew?

Unlike most time management books, Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman is about thinking about/dealing with time in general and not with something specific in mind that we want to do with our time. Here at Original Content, it's important to remember that with Time Management Tuesday we do know what we want to do with our time. We're all about writing. We're all about protecting time for writing. When Burkeman writes about the issue of having too many things we want to do in life, we writers think, Too many things we want to do in addition to writing. 

Many time management programs, Burkeman says, lead us to believe that if we just organized our time differently, we could do more of all those things we want to do, when, in reality, we really ought to let some things go so that we're doing less. Less of what is not our focus. Remember, our focus here is...writing.

According to Burkeman, we should procrastinate on some of these other things--creating wall hangings, attending virtual art programs, subscribing to and reading multiple magazines, volunteering for everything, for example (I'm speaking for a friend)--to focus on what we've decided matters. Writing.

That is where good procrastination comes in. You choose what you're going to procrastinate on, so you can stick to what you want to do. Write.

I have to say, in my experience, this has been the case. The magazine subscriptions have had to go. The volunteering had to go. The virtual art programs never got started. Those things went, in the belief that I might get to them sometime in the future, so I could write now. Those things may never come in the future, but it's better to procrastinate on those items so I can write, than to procrastinate on writing so I can do all these other things.

Temporal Landmarks: A Humble Suggestion For Positive Procrastination

There are many things we can't, or maybe just don't want to, procrastinate on indefinitely. Using temporal landmarks--special occasions and calendar events that mark the passage of time and create new opportunities to begin new cycles--could help us to procrastinate productively on important things.

  • This past year I read about a writer who is also a college teacher. She limits herself to writing during one part of the year and submitting during another. She could be described as procrastinating on each task so that she can concentrate on it fully later.   
  • I frequently mention National Novel Writing Month here in relation to temporal landmarks. Many writers use that block of time to draft new work. Over the course of the year, they procrastinate getting started on a new project until November, a time when starting will work best for them.
  • Writers who have to work around school calendars either because they teach or have children at home often do one type of work when school is in session and another type when it's not. They are, arguably, procrastinating so that they use the type of time they have in the best way possible.

You can create your own temporal landmarks around anything--holiday months when you want to work less intently so you put off lighter work for that time; a day job's calendar when you can predict that work will be more demanding or less; travel time when you might be able to do more reading and research. Then you can plan what you're going to do (writing or even something else) during those times and put if off--procrastinate with that particular activity--the rest of the year.

However you do it, you're controlling the procrastination.

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