Procrastination, Depression and Apps. Oh My!

Let’s face it, I am a procrastinator of the highest order. I am also incredibly forgetful and scatterbrained about most day-to-day things. Now that you know I am plagued by two such curses, what’s a girl to do if she isn’t waiting for her knight in shining armour? Why, make a list of what soothes or ails her more and let it float into the gentle breeze. Too much purple prose for you? Fear not denizens of the sticky web, I will cut it out shortly.

That looks accurate.
That looks accurate.

There’s an App for it

I use HabitBull to jot down a few things that I should be doing everyday but either tend to skip or forget that I did them at all. For instance I regularly forget whether or not I have taken my medications or grabbed my keys as I run out of the door. Time a reminder on the app and voila I can keep track of tiny things that might end up defining a good portion of the day for me. Locking yourself out and realising it at 10 pm is not a fun trip down memory lane.

(Trying) to Stick to a Routine

This is important and if your first thought to ‘routine’ is to scream “Booooring” like my 4 year old cousin, then go sit in the corner for the next five minutes.

Routine helps. It helps people like me who suffer from both depression and panic attacks. I can function much better on the days I manage to stick to my routine than when I don’t. Most tips to ward against depression highlight how important it is that you try to have a working routine. Not only does it help to decrease the long lounges on the bed that we are prone to, it also serves to hammer down a manageable pattern. Think of a routine as the one thing that is under your control (internal) instead of the circumstances around you (external). Feeling even a bit in control can go a long way to stave off the latest wave of panic.

The past few days I stopped following my routine and that played havocs on my moods. Sure, the lack of structure wasn’t the only reason but it still played a part. On the bright side, I understand the importance of keeping track of myself more than ever.

Answer to Yourself

While I was writing this post I was using Eggscellent to keep track of how long I worked based on the Pomodoro technique. For each 25 minutes that I worked, I got a 5 minutes break.  Or I can play around with the allocated time or completely ignore the break time should the creative juices get flowing. You might ask why need an app or a timer to begin with? Well the answer is simple and honest: I am quite prone to not working within a set time period because I know deep down that I can get it done even at the last minute. More often than not I do manage to finish my work, but I have developed a reluctance to keeping such a schedule (well lack of one to be specific). With the timer I am making myself accountable to something other than myself, which works out fine for me. So, if you think you can’t manage your time unless you have to answer to a second party, an app like this works well.

Shut it ALL down

For your phone, mute all other notifications save for the  most basic ones like texts, calls and events. Use applications like Hush for OSX (from the same people who gave us Coffitivity) that silences the unnecessary notifications that sidetrack you while you work. If you are unwilling to go cold turkey on all fronts then keep the notifications on your phone on but on vibrate. You don’t really need to know who replied to you Facebook post or retweeted your tweet the exact minute it happens. No, you really don’t. Keep your email notifications on if like me you only have work emails coming in, otherwise enjoy the blessed silence. If something of utmost emergency does happen people are far more likely to call you as opposed to Facebook it to you (at least for me).

Another great tool for procrastinators like myself happen to be the aptly named StayFocused extension that you can use on your Chrome. At it’s core the extension behaves like your helicopter parents with the exception that it works within the parameters you set. It gives you a certain amount of time you can spend on sites you think are making you act like a zombie and blocks you out of them afterwards. I have to admit, the extension alone won’t do you much good if you aren’t being honest with yourself.

Uh Change?

Use an unobtrusive writing platform if you think it will help you get more work done. For me Imagine works best when I am working on blog posts and not on literature reviews or reports (MS Word and EndNote are a science student’s best friend). Bottom line? Cut down on the distractions. Put on some instrumental music if that’s your thing or the morning track from coffitivity and get to work. Personally, I prefer Celtic tunes over most music because I can work and tap my foot to a nice rhythm.

Get up

I will be honest, I added this part as an afterthought which shouldn’t be the case at all. For every thirty minutes or an hour that you sit in front of your laptop or reading a well thumbed book, stand up and do a few easy stretches or movements. For me, I went with 30 squats for each hour of sitting before my laptop in addition to morning meditation, stretches and yoga. Meditation, like most people have said before, works wonders for my temperament. It’s a tad difficult to go from loose limbed bliss to rage after a session or even during the day. This is also where HabitBull helps me keep track of these things on a day-to-day basis. [I am a report-card needed kind of a person, ok?]

My brief foray into subduing my procrastination has been tampered with fighting my depression as well. And while I do shrug my shoulders at both, I am trying to work with them instead of against them. In order to recognise and deal with the signs of another upcoming depression episode I can try my best to be active and swat the procrastination bug along with it.

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