We humans are interesting creatures. Such a flippant remark, I realise, is all-encompassing when really I am only thinking of myself. However, experience of others plays a role in such a comment. As does the need to believe that I am not a solitary “interesting creature”. You see, I have a job which affords a great deal of freedom taxed with more personal responsibility than I usually burden myself with (and that’s generally a lot anyway). So, it happens that when the mountain of tasks becomes and Everest I choose to forego a Saturday morning or a Sunday afternoon of time with friends or family to venture into the office or sit in front of my computer at home. It’s not a decision that I take lightly but it still takes some time to warm to the idea of working during what should be personal time. The strange part of all this is that I rationally know that the tasks can usually be completed next week. That doesn’t stop my rising blood pressure and anxiousness to be engaged in a productive work activity when there is work to be done – which is almost always.
Despite this urge to move a mountain one task at a time, when I do travel to the office, unlock the doors, turn off the alarm, turn on the lights, and face the boot-up screen, my first real action is to make a cup of tea (I’ll tell you about tea vs coffee in another post – remind me). It would be easy to excuse this unproductive task by referring to my ancient computer which takes so long to start up that there’s plenty of time for the brewing, or by citing a need for caffeine before my grey-matter engages itself optimally. However, it’s usually the case that I’ve already had a hot drink before arriving and, really, there is work that can be done without involving a machine. But assuming that the old fashioned paper or whiteboard methods are insufficient for the mission and I haven’t yet maintained blood-caffeine levels, perhaps tea-making isn’t such a waste of time after all. It’s the next bit, after Microsoft (also remind me to give you my 2c about operating systems) has decided it will let me access files and programs, that really intrigues me and is the reason for the opening sentence.
Usually the tea during work after-hours is first accompanied by some internet surfing. It’s as if the work will be completed because I am simply sitting in a chair provided by my employer and this chair carries all the power of my given role, waiting to be activated by my warm butt cheeks. After reading whatever inspiring management advice or motivational stories of how to get more work done the internet has to offer, skimming the headlines of various news sources, and checking my email four or five times in case any urgent business has come up in the last minute, I usually begin to feel the pressure-monster’s voice telling me that while the seat may be warm, there has been no output as yet. It’s a curious phenomena because at the time when you think I’d be most productive – when the opportunity cost is so high – I choose to procrastinate yet during the week when there is allocated time, I make steady progress. Yes, I still make cups of tea and will peruse the headlines from time to time but isn’t it a little different when the sun isn’t shining outside and I know that most others in my life are similarly occupied? I don’t know what the experts would say about my choice to procrastinate during self-chosen productivity times (is that called productination?) and, honestly, I’m a little afraid they’d prescribe me a pill or some hideous form of electro-therapy.
Perhaps the answer lies in the musings above… I know that there’ll be time to do it next week and really the excuse of going to work is to satiate the pressure-monster’s appetite for punishment. Whatever the reason, I need to get some work done now – it’s a public holiday and there is much to be done. I’m also sure in the past 10 min there a few vital emails have arrived which need tending to…