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June 19, 2012 / Teenage Eccentric

Arousing Your Productiveness

    Recently, the structured world came crashing down (in my favor) and all hell let loose (again, in my favor). Despite all that, my clear insanity led me to vow to lead a productive life in these three months of mayhem. So when I woke in the morning and found that I accomplished absolutely nothing until noon, I was surprised. Okay, not really. But I was still wondering what compelled me to waste all my goddamn time. But then I realized what it was.

     On February 19, 2012, The New York Times Magazine released an article about how Target knows if you’re pregnant. No, they don’t hide ultrasound materials underneath the cash registers. No, they don’t have a hold of your monthly calendar that has a little red mark made by a marker for every day that you had your period. They collect your data. You might be wondering, what on EARTH does this have to do with procrastination? I’ll get to it. Stick with me. As I was saying, Target basically has a customer I.D. for everyone. They track down what you buy with your credit card. By tracking down what you are buying, they are able to notice changes. Because of the major life change of pregnancy, if you used to use Target as your electronics place, you might temporarily use it for everything. You might grab those baby clothes you’ll be needing (obvious), grab those Iron pills you need to take (less obvious), or scent-free soup because you can’t STAND perfumes anymore (pretty subtle). All together, Target has an 87 percent chance of telling the fact that you are pregnant and telling your due date. Because the women’s habits are all messed up, Target wants to grab her by sending her coupons and getting her hooked on Target forever. Andrew Pole, the statistic mastermind behind all of this, figured this out by using the system that several studies have confirmed: Cue, routine, and reward. Because they understand habits, they are easier to control, like when Target innocently sends the soon-to-be mother a coupon with assorted items such as lawn mowers and cleansing liquids. The women thinks nothing when she sees the crib on the list except, “Look, it’s much cheaper there. Might as well buy my groceries there too.”

    You just read the summary of a study and you are just dying to know about the procrastination issue. I can feel it. Before I do that, please thank me for crunching down that article. It took up eight pages in the New York Times Magazine. You’re thankful now? Good. Now I’ll tell you.

    I noticed that I was driven to have a productive time. I’m not lazy when it comes to time management.

So what could I do? Well, with the change in my life, my habits were thrown all over the place. Because of that, I have the two-to-three week time frame to form new habits. The issue with that is, it feels more like a weekend. And what did I do on weekends? I slept in, lounged around in my pajamas, and drooled in front of the TV telling myself that I could only watch ONE more episode from Netflix when I’d already watched seven. One of the studies mentioned in The New York Times Magazine pointed out that once a habit is formed, you will always have it. Which leads me to the cue, routine, and reward. If I couldn’t change the habit, then I had to change the circumstances. I changed the circumstances by changing the cue. So when I had set my alarm clock for seven in the morning, I immediately hit the snooze button. I grunted and turned around to sleep more. The thing is, when I turned around, I saw the running clothes I had set on my chair the last night. I remembered that I wanted to go for a run. So I slipped into my running shorts and t-shirt, and, with that second cue, immediately felt compelled to jog around the neighborhood. After I did that, I rewarded myself with a steaming shower and a check off the to-do list. Some days I also tried very neat and work-like outfits, as shown in the transformation cartoon above. In fact, scientist found some very interesting results in a lab coat study. When the subjects were told that they were wearing a lab coat of a doctor, their results in tests that required concentration shot up. That effect was not found when they were told that the coat belonged to an artist (I’m very sorry wordpress, but I don’t remember where I got that piece of information from. I read it somewhere).

   Maybe in the near future you, too, will find the beauty of the cue, routine, and reward system. Or you could just let your strong habits fade into the past circumstances and forget that there was ever a such thing as productivity. But you come to my blog for productivity, so I can’t let you do THAT. 😉

Want to read more about the Target thing? Click here. 

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December 23, 2011 / Teenage Eccentric

Christmas and Procrastination = Best Friends

Recent Journal Of Mine:

I almost faint when I look at the calendar.  My pile of presents is so close, and so was the imaginary pile that I’m supposed to give to my family.

The status of presents? A special something for my mom. THAT’S IT.

I’m pacing around nervously.  What the heck to give?  Maybe something Star Warsy for my brother.  Then again, I do not want to make the same mistake as I did in New York.  I was traveling there and I thought, “Why not get something for my brother from the Lego store?” I got him some rare keychains.  He already had collected them!

My sister? She’s easy.  Dora the Explorer or a doll will make her happy.  But how to give it without revealing Santa’s true identity?

My dad is the most tricky.  Considering that I can’t drive,  I need to ask him to bring me to the store.  How can you get a present for someone that will see you buying it? Makes no sense.

Sometimes I wish I could erase the holidays.  That way,  there would be one less procrastination situation for me!

Today, I woke up with no presents to give as gifts like most normal people.  I pulled on some clothes and begged my dad to be driven to the store.   I moved with the large crowd to find just what I needed.  But it really made me reconsider the holiday season.

For one thing, they  make it so easy to procrastinate! One person pointed out to me that you want to do the shopping early, but then you see on the websites, “FREE one day shipping because Christmas is tomorrow!” It’s like getting rewarded for procrastinating!

Christmas shopping isn’t that fun after all. You just stress over buying a whole bunch of stuff to give to a whole bunch of people you pretend to like.  I think the only reason that we do it is because we hope there are enough people who are pretending to like us and give us presents.

December 20, 2011 / Teenage Eccentric

The Procrastinator: The Commercial

I decided that I needed to take things online.  Well, duh, I already did.  I meant even MORE online.  So I decided to create my very own Facebook page, under “The Procrastinator.”  You should check it out yourself. I put in all the photos that I’ve used, I post extra there, etc.  Like it if you dare!

Anyhow,  I had my fans vote on what they thought my next post on my blog should be about.  I had a tie between procrastinating in the winter break and a humorous video about procrastination.  So I took a shot on the whole video thing.

You all know I have a Mac, and therefore I have iMovie. I tried my very best to be ironic with my commercial. I’m basically glorifying my procrastination problems.  Yay!

Procrastination shall rule! Seriously, I procrastinated A LOT with this thing… Homework, here I come!

December 15, 2011 / Teenage Eccentric

I’ve Lost My Marbles- Too Bad There’s No Time to Get Them Back…

I’m not procrastinating anymore.  One might praise me, but truthfully, it’s not because of my effort.  It’s because I don’t have a choice.

I put it into prospective this way: Everybody rides the road of life in their own car.  I was going at a slightly faster pace, but I was pulling over for snacks a lot.  Now, all of a sudden, I’m “flooring it.” ¿Tú comprendes?

There’s just so much to do.  I go to my classes,  I study when I have free, I come home late, and I do homework ’till I drop, then wake up exhausted to find that the cycle continues.  How the hell did I get here?

I’m always tired.  I’m stressed. I’m done.  And as my eyes started to droop as the clock kept ticking,  I realized, “Hey, I’m being a perfectionist!”

All this time I have been caught up in the moment, working my butt off for achievement.  Man, I’ve known about perfectionism for AT LEAST a year.   Yet I don’t even recognize it when it’s staring right at my face.

It made me think about whether people know whether they have, ahem, issues.   I wonder sometimes whether people are really educated about procrastination and perfectionism.  Why can’t we recognize it?

Maybe it’s because we don’t trust ourselves.  We think about it, but we dismiss it as silly.  Maybe we are too narcissistic to think that we can have faults.  Or maybe we just plain out ignore it.

December 4, 2011 / Teenage Eccentric

What To Do About Time Management When You Already Messed Up

It’s Saturday night. I was supposed to do my work today.  I sort of didn’t.  Maybe I need to make a 100 notecards for Spanish and prepare a powerpoint to present fluently on Monday. Maybe I need to present four arguments for my Civics class, or maybe I have to memorize several vocabulary words for English. And it may be plausible that I need to read 8 chapters of Physics to catch up with the class. And to my dismay, Physics isn’t a walk in the park.  It’s more like seeing a 23 meter tsunami speeding towards you as you stroll on the beach, and you run as fast as you can, praying that the several ton thing won’t squish your body like a bug.  Oops.

I panic, searching my worshiped internet to tell me the way with time management. Now, the first thing that websites tell you is that you must plan your day. As Big Bird says in the movie Big Bird Gets Lost, “Well, it’s too late for that.”

I look at my excuse for a room.  Gosh, maybe that tsunami already hit me. This place is a complete mess.  No, focus.  But research suggests that you can’t focus with a messy  environment.  Darn it.  The next thing I know, I’m on the odyssey of cleaning my room. There’s still textbooks sprawled on the floor. The desk is still a mess.  But then my stomach grumbles and I’m hungry.  Just a snack.  But I apparently had left the TV on, and I slowly eat for an hour.  Yikes.

Once I am free from the tantalizing comedies, I hyperventilate.  What am I supposed to do?  Oh great.  It’s 10 PM already.  I can’t do my homework, but I’ve asked somebody to check for me.  

My advice for all of you procrastinators out there who vow they will get their procrastinating under control, but happen to have that paper due tomorrow:

1. Calm yourself down.   How the hell are you supposed to control the touching plot of that narrative if you can barely control your breathing? Take slow, deep breaths. Sniff some lavender.  There, do you feel the pounding in your head go away? Do you feel it flowing out? Good.

2. Caffeine: The no-go zone.  Caffeine is addicting.  We all know that if you have your latte everyday and then you move to the middle of nowhere, you are going to feel the same heartbreak as if your wonderful smartphone has just been run over. Don’t get yourself into an addiction.  The book that I follow, Perfectionism- What’s Bad About Being Too Good?, suggests that you eat crunchy stuff instead, like carrots. Unless you’re unlucky and you have braces. I had them once too, fellas, and the only advice that I can give about that is not to linger on that lavender from #1.  You’ll fall asleep before you even think about that presentation.

3.  Get away from the clutter and leave to a distraction-free zone.  Usually I’d say make one beforehand, but you’ve already messed up, so just carry your laptop and data to the kitchen table, or whatever. Sit on the toilet for all I care.  Just make sure to be far, far away from those very tempting romance series that have been sitting on your bed.

4.  Pump it! Science suggests that people who listen to music as they work are more productive. Don’t start rocking out to Britney yet.  What personal experience has taught me is that you only get that benefit if you listen to LYRIC-LESS music with lots of energy.  Being the geek that I am, I listen to classical music.  No lyrics, just the sound of beautiful music.  Not only does this help you keep a pace, but you won’t be hearing the partying going on next door.

5.  Bring your water and carrots with you.  If you do, you’ll be less likely to stand up to get a drink and not return for half an hour.

I do have one more morsel of advice before you get to work.  I installed this awesome app called “MyTime” (but it’s only available for Macs- sorry Windows lovers).  What it does is that it tracks how much time I’ve spent on my top 20 apps and on my top 20 websites.  Did you know in the past 30 days, I’ve used Safari for 61 hours and 52 minutes? That’s 2 hours EVERY DAY. 10 hours and 4 minutes of that time was on YouTube.  Now I know which website I am most distracted by.  If only I found out how to block it…

Good luck on your taxes, presentation, paper, project, book, etc.  You’ll be needing it.

November 22, 2011 / Teenage Eccentric

The Wimpy Procrastinator

We are all wimpy in a certain way. But not as wimpy as Greg Heffley.

When the book Diary of a Wimpy Kid hit bookstores in 2007, it was a hit. I was really counting on the fact that I don’t have anything in common with Greg Heffley.  I’m sad to say I do.

In the sequel to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Diary of a Wimpy Kid- Rodrick Rules, Greg encounters procrastination.

In his exact words:

“My big history paper is due tomorrow, but they’ve been saying all week it’s gonna snow about a FOOT tonight. So I haven’t been sweating it at all that much.                          At around 10:00, I peeked out the window to see how many inches of snow were on the ground so far. But I couldn’t believe my eyes when I pulled back the curtain.                 Man, I was counting on school being CANCELLED tomorrow. I turned on the news to see what happened, but the weather guy was telling a TOTALLY different story than he was three hours ago. That meant I had to get cracking on my History paper.” (143).

How does that go? Not very good. As he starts researching about his paper, the power goes out.  He eventually ends up buying the paper from his brother because all of his brother’s papers are written by his father.  He still ends up getting an F because his brother’s papers were not edited to perfection until high school.

Greg’s procrastination problems, however, don’t look like they are linked to perfectionism like Lisa Simpson. As the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series points out, it’s mostly through laziness.

The several examples of his laziness start in the first book, when Greg revealed that he slept all day during the weekend, and only got out when he couldn’t stand the taste of his own breath anymore. He didn’t even try to exercise when his father sent him outside, and just ran through the sprinkler to convince his dad he had been working out. He even signed up for Safety Patrol simply for the hot chocolate and the fact that he gets to miss half of Algebra every day.

Greg might procrastinate like a madman, but he’ll always have… um….his wimpyness?

November 21, 2011 / Teenage Eccentric

The Brainy Procrastinator

Today, I was mindlessly watching TV again, when something caught my eye. Lisa Simpson, my absolute most favorite character from the Simpsons, was procrastinating.

In the episode yesterday, “The Book Job,” Lisa resolved that she would write a book in order to prove to Homer and Bart that there is no need for the industrial profits and the cliche tween fantasy novels.

She sat down to write, only to find that she must have music to work. When she looked through her CDs, she declared that she must organize them, and followed that with online Boggle. She went to the coffee shop, only to end up setting up her wi-fi and buying herself treats. She built herself a castle out of pencils, and watched videos of cats on MyTube. She even resorted to cleaning stains on her bedroom window!  By the time she was still slamming herself on her bed weeping because she couldn’t come up with an idea, Homer’s team was all done with their typical magical novel. As she entered the book fair using the excuse that she had to see what other authors were doing, she cried, “All I’ve done is procrastinate!”

What interests me so much Lisa procrastinating is that she does have a lot of perfectionist tendencies. Even though her I.Q. is up in the clouds at 156, she still feels that she must accomplish everything she has set out for, and gets mad at herself when she doesn’t finish it. In Season 4, “Kamp Krusty,” she was hyperventilating over her report card simply because she received a “B” in one subject. In Season 10, “Lisa Gets an ‘A’,” Lisa got so nervous about a test over a book she forgot to read that she decided to cheat. And now this. Though I admire Lisa Simpson for her intelligence and motivation (particularly during seasons 1-9, dubbed the Golden Age of the Simpsons), I’m still glad to know even those I picture to be perfect are like me.

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