There are things I don’t do. I don’t play Tetris Battle, because it’s too mainstream, there’s no way I could catch up to everybody else, and Facebook games just feel corporation-evil to me. I don’t read 9GAG because reddit’s hivemind has, after showing me enough reposts for a lifetime, instilled an elitist mindset in me that considers it the dumpsters of the internet (and besides, AskReddit threads are way more interesting).
But still, despite all of these precautionary measures, I can find many ways to procrastinate. In fact, it might be argued that all this careful avoidance is the reason I’m so good, that I’ve adapted to my own productivity strategies. The internal conversation during a typical homework-loaded Sunday looks like:
Me: Okay. You have about six hours to finish all your assignments and you have lots of other responsibilities besides. Do something productive, dammit.
So I find my blog and start typing randomness into it, such as how annoying it is to be productive. Because, you know, judging by how I feel about older posts here, when I come back to read these posts five or ten years later, they’ll be really interesting. And besides, I bet there are still a small proportion of people out there reading about me. So this has to be a productive task… right?
Me: …okay, off the computer. There are a lot of assignments off the computer, and you get too easily distracted and can justify doing anything except playing the most clearly-defined games. Off.
So, with myself bound from using the computer with a pact with an imaginary copy of myself, I sort two years’ worth of math lecture notes by subject. I am surprised that, with two copies of a list of combinatorics problems considered for last year’s tests plus the first four chapters of Richard P. Stanley’s Bijective Proof Problems, combinatorics notes come in first by volume. This is a productive task because it will save me the time later when I need to find that one set of notes on, say, primitive roots. (Which, of course, I won’t, but… shhhh—)
Me: I really need to be more specific. Open up your geography textbook, you’ve got five pages to take notes on, and your time is still ticking.
I look at the five pages in question and decide they’re too boring. I decide to flip around, reading the bit about Taiwan to see if the book gives us sovereignty, then the preface, then the bit about Australia and Oceania, then the bit about North America, all of which seem more interesting. I do not try to remember any facts. This is a productive task because… alright, it’s not.
… Here, I’m installing LeechBlock. Just one-fifth of your time can go to places like reddit.
Promptly, I start doing things like
– wandering through Pentadactyl’s Google Code repository
– reading the solutions to the 2011 CiSRA puzzlehunt
– restyling a bunch of bare-HTML cheat sheets I made a while ago
– clicking the xkcd random button repeatedly and reminiscing
– blogging, again, because Me forgot to ban that. Take that, sucker!
It is not the first time I have done these things to put off homework. It’s probably not the second or third either.
Me: Okay, okay, okay, WordPress counts as part of your one-fifth!
But, of course, no matter how many sites I add to the list, there are still alternatives. If I take my homework away from my laptop then I can avoid getting distracted by the option of continuing to find sites I haven’t yet gotten around to blocking as unproductive OR sites that can be vital to productivity but are equally potent as procrastination-binge catalysts. But once I need to look something up or the like, I can’t get guilt-tripped by my homework, and I get derailed for even longer. Catch-22.
I (or rather, my imaginary bolded copy, whose relentless strictness is really getting on my nerves) was going to put WordPress on the block list, but the first attempt didn’t block my dashboard because I didn’t allow a wildcard subdomain. And I was going to fix that, but then (guess what?) I procrastinated. It is on there now and I am using my twelve minutes to blog about this fact. Aren’t you simply flattered?
Well, there’s this “feature” in which the timer reaching zero doesn’t shut off a blocked page you’re already on, so I’m past my twelve minutes for this hour, and probably by a lot at that. So anyway… back to work…