Feelings?! Look, mate, you know who has a lot of feelings? Blokes what bludgeon their wife to death with a golf trophy. Professionals have standards: Be polite. Be efficient. Have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
I find I don’t listen to music anymore. I’m not sure why, either. I just can’t get into anything recently and it seems more hassle than it’s worth. I thought I’d like Apple Music/Spotify/Whatever, but I always feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth out of them. When I try services like Bandcamp, I feel like I’m too picky.
As a someone who is introverted, dealing with people is often difficult. Having to meet new people, or interact with them at parties is mentally tiring and something I dread having to do. So, how do I deal with it? Especially since my job is interacting with lots of people who I don’t know, and who are often upset by technology.
It’s my defense mechanism, my way of connecting on a more basic level and it’s a good way to get people to relate to you. Humor helps diffuse situations and it more importantly, it helps me stay sane. Laughing about computer problems and other stupid absurdities often staves off the lingering stresses that the regular world pushes into your consciousness.
Hi, my name is Nathan and I am a habitual procrastinator. I spend more time wasting time than I do, doing something productive. While that’s not always bad, it does hinder my ability to thrive. This TED Talk on procrastination I just watched (instead of doing my job) explains this perfectly.
I have been like this all my life. I spend hours doing something that feels good now, but when it comes time to do something less fun, but needed, I end up hanging out with the monkey. This comes into clear relief many times in my life. Even this morning, I have a pile of stinky dishes to take care of, but I’d rather be here, writing about procrastination. Or, perhaps it was better expressed when I was looking for a job and spent almost 8 hours watching cut scenes from Metal Gear Solid.
Procrastination exacerbates my depression. I spend a fairly significant portion of my time worrying about deadlines and responses and the fact I haven’t done something I should have, than I do on actually doing those things. I worry to the point of being sick, or end up spending frantic, stress-filled hours trying to complete a task that I could have chunked up into smaller bits. Ironically, I usually have to tell my son “not to eat the elephant all in one bite” when he panics about his workload. I appear to need the same advice.
Procrastination vs. Grit
My wife calls her almost obsessive level of work ethic “grit”. That seems pretty accurate. She has the willpower to dig in and get things done, even if she hates them. If it needs to be done, it’s rare that she’s not holding the banner and leading the charge. I am often in awe of her power, but I seldom wish I had that much myself.
I know that I have concentration issues, with some topics. Things that don’t interest me are difficult to get traction on. Subjects like math or politics, history or social studies. If I’m not “in to it”, you’ll find it hard for me to get anything but the bare minimum done. Many of the tasks aren’t even hard. They’re just monotonous, or boring, or drudge work. I would rather spend time day dreaming than do much of that.
How to Fix it?
I’ve discussed this with my therapist a couple of times. Generally it’s a matter of getting started that makes the most difference. Just taking a few dishes out of the dishwasher, or picking up a few things around the house is enough to push the monkey off the wheel. While I may not entirely finish that task all in one attempt, at least I’ve made it easier for Future Nathan to pick it back up and have an easier time completing it.
Tim Urban, the man in the TED talk, also has some advice for procrastinators that I think I’ll be looking at as well. Much like depression, procrastination doesn’t seem like it’s a “curable” thing. You just have to know how to manage it for yourself.
This year has been longer, in many respects, than any I can remember. It’s not just the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s everything. When you have lots of stuff to do and things to occupy your time, news cycles and information tends to be a little more sporadic, a little more manageable. Even with all of that, I tended to pare it down to just the things I’m interested.
Now that we’re all stuck inside and dealing with the fallout of how our leaders have responded to the crisis (good or bad), the news seems more in-your-face. No longer can I go days without hearing what this person said or how that political party is messing things up. All we get now is news, concentrated and brimming with information that just makes me want to push it away more.
I don’t think I’m alone in this thinking, either. We, I should say Americans, but it’s more than just that; Have it good. We’re well taken care of in many respects and while things can always be better, we still feel good about how our systems work. Though this is a whole topic itself. The point I’m trying to make here is that we’re pampered to the point where we don’t feel the need to protest things in large numbers anymore, we don’t strike or demand better politics. We have fallen in love with the two party system and are more than willing to take sides.
I used to watch the Daily Show as a way to escape, to laugh at the absurdity of the circus that is professional politics. I used to be invested in helping decide who we should elect to lead us. I used to join the voices for justice when wrong was discovered.
Now? Now I just sit home and sleep. I repeat the same daily actions. I don’t even know (or frankly, care) what our sad excuse for a leader is doing to appease the bullies and paranoid supporters who seem ready to die or kill for him. I just want out. I’m tired and I just don’t care anymore. If this is where we have decided to go, collectively. I want out.
The world is getting a face full of COVID-19 and is not taking it well. Many places are closed or have changed their procedures. Places like Starbucks have gone to drive through only. Other places where people congregate have just closed altogether. Techy companies are moving any available workers to remote-work.
Except me. I’m here in the office. I was actually looking forward to working from home, since it’s a much more comfortable environment and I could get some stuff done. I’m a home-body, so I think I would have really enjoyed it.
Well, I’m somehow deemed “critical”. So much for that staycation.
Additionally, Animal Crossing is delayed delivery due to this stupid virus. Our anniversary trip to Disney is canceled. Our Disney cruise is also similarly canceled. My son now has to take his instruction via the web and even my goddamn weigh loss group is going to Zoom.
Work is also piling on. We have constant meetings with Microsoft regarding issues with their Outlook client. Demanding logs of all shapes and sizes be uploaded and proof, undeniable proof, is levied before they lift a finger. I also have been conscripted to develop PowerShell scripts that I’ve never done before, and for deployment to masses of users.
I feel beat down. Burnt out. Tired.
I tried to take a walk. I was interrupted for more work.
I finally got outside. It feels like a middle-finger seeing all the people out, having a good time, walking and talking to friends. Basically the opposite of what we’re supposed to be doing.
Nathan is a technologist and Open Source enthusiast living and working in Florida. Often, he can be found playing board games with his family, video games by himself or breaking technological things in order to fix them “better”.