Have you ever sat at your computer to start a task to find yourself transported two hours ahead and the only thing you accomplished is watching two hours of cat videos, catching up on social media and browsing your favorite online shopping sites, or decide you should check the weather on your phone and the next thing you know you’ve spent hours popping bubbles on some game app. The tech we use is a blessing and a curse. It can be an alluring temptation and suck all the time from your day leaving you with little or nothing to show for your intended effort.
It’s an easy trap to fall into. So many things exist that we like also keep us from getting where we want to be. Time is the thing we have that we can’t replenish but its the most likely thing we waste. I know at my job when I have to choose between leaving early and staying at the scheduled time, I run for the door. My thought is you can always make more money but you only get so much time. Although I’m fortunate to have a good paying job, I can’t wait to leave the building to chase my own dreams.
So I hate myself when I waste time. I understand the need for downtime and how important it can be for mental health, but I’m running out of time. We all are. We only have what we get and nothing more. It’s best to maximize it to the best of your abilities. Yes maybe watching “Goonies” for the 9 millionth time is enjoyable and way easier than writing a few thousand words. But I know (spoiler alert) the Fratelli’s get busted, the kids save the goon-docks and Sloth and Chunk love each other and I don’t know what I’d have after writing for two hours. I never will unless I choose productivity.
So as much as the Goonies are good enough for me, they can wait. I try to keep my writing space quiet and distraction-free. Cellphone away on the charger, TVs off, maybe a playlist of requiems from the masters playing and I can fade into the world I’m writing. If I hit a rough patch, or things feel awkward, don’t click over to see the latest mock draft but push through. After all the writing is done the first time through, I can take a breath, then dig into editing.
It’s much more satisfying to hold a finished manuscript than take the Cleveland Browns to the Super Bowl on Madden. So even if I feel the urge to stray I need to ask myself the cost. How will I get more time to do the thing I’m not doing right now? What’s the cost of staying focused on my writing over wasting time on frivolous things?