Procrastination is bad. Repeat after me: Procrastination… is… bad…
But! In the life of any freelancer, there comes a time when staring at a piece of work provokes only a crying response of ‘please don’t make me do this’. When that time comes, taking a small break is actually better than continuing to stare down the screen/paper and wishing it to burn. So here’s a list of fifteen things you can spend fifteen minutes doing, to distract yourself from the horror of your next assignment (but not so much that you’ll find yourself losing hours).
Some of them might work for you, some might not – but the only rule is: you have to spend FIFTEEN MINUTES ONLY on them. Less is acceptable (but try to make it to ten). Longer – absolutely not, because then you defeat the point. Promise me you’re getting back to your work after these fifteen minutes. Promise me now.
Okay, I believe you. Now, take your pick of the following:
1. If you’re wearing makeup, wipe it off, wash your face, moisturize it, and put makeup on from scratch. (Works for guys as well! Or, if you want to be boring, I dunno, give yourself a nice shave, with foam and lotion and stuff.)
2. Change your complete outfit, including socks and underwear. Shoes, too. Even if you don’t plan to go out today, wearing nice shoes feels good.
3. Do your hair. Curl it, straighten it, braid it, comb it a hundred times – whatever you like. (But no going on youtube looking for styling tutorials! That WILL take too long.)
4. Go outside. Set a timer for five minutes, or pick a song that’s exactly five minutes long, and walk. When the timer goes off or the song ends, turn back. The extra five minutes are reserved for putting your coat and shoes on before and taking them off after.
5. Make a pot of tea or a French press of coffee. Organize your tea/coffee/mugs cabinet while at it. Or…
6. Make a cake in a mug to go with the above.
UPD: I made the one pictured above, invented by Chocolate Covered Katie, and it’s awesome (and has roughly one third of the calories in an average store-bought muffin). Highly recommend!
7. Paint your nails and toenails and wait for them to dry.
8. Play an arcade type computer game, on your phone or online. Snake 2, Brickbreaker, Gold Miner… Tetris, for goodness’ sake.
9. Organize your stationery and make a list of what you need to buy next time you’re in town (there’s always something – and who doesn’t love shopping for stationery?)
11. Clean your desk. Take the trash out of your workspace. Working in a garbage tip always makes work-related despair much worse.
12. Go through contacts in your phone and delete any numbers you haven’t called in over a year (unless, you know, you once exchanged numbers with Amanda Palmer… then again, she’s easier to reach via twitter).
13. Go through your handbag and instagram a picture of its contents (you’re allowed to remove used chewing gum and feminine products).
14. Set a timer for fifteen minutes and sit there doing absolutely nothing. Do not look at your work! Looking out of the window is only allowed if there’s a view of nature there. Alternatively, listen to the rain.
15. Write a micro-blog about procrastination like this one, to share your plight with the world (believe it or not, this took exactly fifteen minutes to write).
Note how at no point I suggested you read, or watch something, or even listen to music (except when walking). That’s because it’s all too easy to get lost in these things. Watching a fifteen-minute episode of a show isn’t good, either – because, come on, who are you kidding when you say you’ll stop at one? One exception to this rule is – you can read a comic book, if it’s a weekly that came out this week. One issue. ONE. Got it?
Got any other ideas for non-destructive short-term procrastination? Feel free to contribute!