Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond

How Do I Procrastinate?

Let me count the ways...

  1. Reading the New Yorker.
  2. Facebook.
  3. RSS blog feed.
  4. Funny things on the Internet.
  5. The Internet. Period.
  6. Singing along to the radio.
  7. Staring at a blank Word document.
  8. Staring at a French document I'm supposed to be translating.
  9. Reading all the novels I'm currently enthralled in.
  10. Eating yogurt and kettlecorn and fruit and hopefully not too many Reese's.
  11. Composing a blog post.


How do I deal with procrastination, let me count the ways:

  1. Standing up and stretching.
  2. Shutting down the Internet.
  3. Going for a quick walk.
  4. Making a to-do list to cross things off of.
  5. Feeling guilty that I'm not working.
  6. Doing laundry.
  7. Spreading out my workweek to fewer daytime hours, more evening and weekend hours. (It still averages 40-45 hours/week, or more.)
  8. Picking one of those long-term business tasks to work on (mostly marketing and grant applications).
  9. Composing a blog post.


Good. Now it's time for a walk.

A croissant a day keeps procrastination away

And thus, the third week of working from home draws to a close.  It's a tricky transfer, from a 9-5 office job to working from home for yourself.  Habits to form and reform, trying to figure out what schedule (or lack thereof) will keep you on track the longest, trying to avoid the homemade Oreo vanilla ice cream in the freezer...

One of my biggest problems is a lack of variety.  Sometimes I can sit at my computer, windows open, music on in the background, working for anywhere between 20 minutes and four hours before I just...can't anymore.  Getting up and stretching doesn't work.  Sitting at the piano for ten minutes doesn't work.  A light snack doesn't work.  Calling my mother to chat doesn't work (and is usually more distracting).  A quick reading break devolves into hours on the couch.  So what is a poor freelancer to do?

To each his own, of course, but my strategy to refocus involves going to a local French cafe with Wifi.  It's something about being surrounded by just enough activity that my brain isn't allowed to wander.  I buckle down and work, consistently, for as long as I need to.

But -- monkey wrench! -- such a plan involves spending money.  A croissant, a cafe au lait, a limonade, a quiche...even one a day starts adding up.  Now, I am all for supporting local businesses with my wallet, but when my wallet is pretty trim to begin with, there's not a lot of support I can give.  Rationing must occur.

Then, oh the dilemma!  What if I was just at the cafe yesterday, but it's now 2pm and I've been staring at my computer without getting any work done for three hours because I can't focus?  Does the croissant money justify the productivity?

Well, yes.  As a matter of fact, it does.  Even if I'm not specifically working on a paying job whilst at the cafe, any work I do will lay the groundwork for a paying job.  It's replying to an email and keeping in touch with a PM.  It's updating my website.  It's working on a short story translation for a possible magazine publication.  It's updating my online Rolodex.  All useful things.

Definitely worth the croissant.