Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Workin' Nine To Five - How Commitments Make Me Productive

. . . Well, actually it's only one 'till five on a Saturday afternoon. And it's volunteering, 'cause I'm not getting paid.

That said, I'm still working in the technical sense. And it's kind of awesome.

This Saturday past, I undertook my first shift at my local Oxfam bookshop. My first real working job, surprise surprise! After a long and miserable hunt for suitable establishments with whom to work over the summer, none proving successful, it felt great to just be able to walk into a place and find people delighted at the prospect of having you scuttling about their establishment.

Best part? I'm on duty with a pair of fellow young'uns (apparently a rare species in the volunteer world), and both are as excitable about books, nerdiness, and compulsively hunting out that one edition of the book the customer wants as I am.

Seriously, ten minutes looking for that particular Bible, and the wretched thing was only on the top shelf where no one could reach it. Thank the lord for expertly-deployed piggybacks!

Still, although it's not a full day of work, that's a big chunk out of one of the few commitment-free days I've been gifted with this year. If I'm stacking shelves and mis-quoting Dickens over the counter, that's time I'm not spending organising events, working on essays, doing my reading, and (as you may have noticed) blogging, isn't it?

Surely if I take on too much, I'll never get anything done?

That, my friends, is where you are wrong.

After egotism, laziness is one of my biggest character flaws. Stick it up on my submission form to Is My Character A Mary Sue Dot Com. I am lazy. So lazy. But I'm very clever about it. See, I don't tell myself I'm lazy - I tell myself I'll do it in a minute. After all, I have a whole day, it can wait another hour until my brain wakes up. After all, my flatmates did keep me up that extra hour when they came in and had a little dance party at 11 o'clock. I can have a bit more time.

One day later, my time is gone, and Future Me wishes Past Me a thousand more collisions with the sharp edge of her desk.

However, if I know I only have, say, two hours before my next commitment, I don't have that excuse. I will get down to it, and I will finish that task, and then I will move on.

You see, although I'm very lazy - I'm also compulsively completist. If I start something - a book, an essay, a presentation, a family-sized bag of Minstrels - I will finish it. I cannot stand things half done. I will set myself a goal and if I do not pass it then I fear my world will implode.

Schedules generate a sort of positive stress. Stress generates brain activity, and that brain activity translates to Charley getting a lot more things done than she would if you gave her a whole day and a coffee-stained To Do list.

I can already feel it. I've been writing more, working faster, eating better, and I'm feeling my bloggy mojo return slowly but surely as I start balancing out my day-to-day schedules.

I've got plenty of commitments this term. So, odds are, you'll be seeing a lot more of me in the coming weeks.

Anybody else work the same way? Leave a comment, and let me know.

~ Charley R

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