I’m a self-employed writer. I’m also a terrible boss. It’s a pure act of God that I never miss a deadline. This is mainly because I value quality over efficiency in my home office.
Why can’t I ask myself for both? Perhaps I need to take a managerial class to learn how to better deal with me.
I’m good at shaming but bad at motivating. Here’s a peek inside my internal bipolar dialogue:
“Writer Jayne, quit being so lazy and get writing!”
“OK Boss Jayne, I just have a few million things I’m going to finish up before I get to that.”
“No, Writer Jayne! I said write! What’s wrong with you? Oh wait, did we remember to defrost the chicken in the fridge last night?”
“Let’s go check.”
So here’s my gift to all the procrastinators out there. You get to see my journal of yesterday afternoon, so you can bear witness to the Queen of Procrastinators and feel so much better about yourself. My task after lunch was to edit my 1,000 word article from an interview with the 49ers Christian Ponder.
1 pm: Need to get something going here but Writer Jayne is dragging her feet. My notes could not be more out of order. I decide to kickstart myself by searching for Anne Lamott’s tweet about writing for 45 minutes to earn a 15 minute favorite reward –mine would be watching “Think Like a Horse” on YouTube. As I log into my Twitter account, Boss Jayne says that writers get more done on their computer if they put it on airplane mode so they can’t access their internet. ‘Ha, that’s crazy talk!’ says Writer Jayne. ‘How could I get all of this important research done without the internet?’
I browse through Lamott’s inspiring quotes and adorable dog photos, trying not to stop until I get to the quote I’m looking for. But did I mention how adorable her dogs are? And don’t get me started on her cute cat… Hmm I guess my memory is better than I thought it was. I’m sure I had read about her 15 minute reward rule just this month! I guess I have to keep looking back into last month… oh Anne’s grandson is cute too…
OK I can’t find the exact quote because her tweets only go back to the first of August. So how can I know her exact formula? Maybe it was only a 50 minutes to 10 minute ratio! Anne tweets and retweets several times every day, just to let you know how much time I’ve now wasted. Wait, does that mean my tweets on my page only go back to the first of August? Must check.
1:30 pm: OK focus! I should have fired me a long time ago. I write for 15 minutes. It’s like trying to excavate ancient ruins to make sense of my jumbled interview notes.
…Hey, a girl has to use the bathroom. While in there, I see the sink is dirty so I wipe that down and restock toilet paper.
2 pm: I need my ‘mind fuel.’ While getting coffee from the kitchen, I notice the sugar bowl needs to be refilled, the water carafe filled, K-cup carousel organized, tea bags stocked, counter wiped down, garbage emptied. I take care of everything.
2:30 pm: I sit down to write but see a popup that my sister has just made her move in Scrabble. What? I thought I had closed my Facebook gaming tab. Hmm, well I must take a few minutes to play, we’re almost done with that game… oh if I take a few more minutes to think maybe I can use all my letters! She is NOT going to beat me this time.
…Get a text from my teenage son, he can’t remember the address of our new dentist, must make sure he knows exactly where to go. That reminds me to call and make my own dentist appointment for January.
3 pm: Start writing again, and have to stop to research what actual date Christian was married and when was his daughter born. But then I see my team The New England Patriot’s playing schedule in the sidebar. Hey I forgot to put that on my calendar! The season has started! That is a priority!
3:30 pm: I know from experience that it takes me at least 2 hours to edit 1,000 words and I need to get dinner started at 5:30! Get on with it Writer Jayne, what’s wrong with you? And no, you cannot afford to take ANY YouTube breaks now!
5:30 pm: Somehow a finished article emerges, just needing a fine dusting in the morning and shipped off on schedule. But if I had been a better boss I could have finished at 3:00 and given myself the rest of the day off. Maybe I should report myself to my Human Resources Dept.
Jayne Thurber-Smith is an award-winning freelance writer for various outlets including Faith & Friends magazine, Sports Spectrum and ofhorse.com. She and her husband’s favorite activity is being included in whatever their four adult children have going on.
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