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Sumati Huber on why we can’t get stuff done

by Ashima

Procrastination is at the heart of her latest Nama-Slay! column.

I’m not going to lie, I spent at least one hour on various websites prior to starting this column researching tips for productivity. Well, at first it was a well-intentioned search for how to work efficiently while we are riding out the pandemic at home. But now, full disclosure, I may or may not have online-shopped six pairs of shoes I don’t need that are on their way to me.

Why is it so hard to stay on track when we are home? I mean besides the obvious fact that the super comfortable couch is right there asking for you to leave a butt-shaped imprint on it. Whether it’s in the realm of doing our day job, decluttering that drawer filled with years’ worth of grimy plastic bags or keeping up with the cooking and cleaning, nothing goes as planned. It seems there are two types of people: those who wake up and conquer the day effortlessly and those who go back to sleep to avoid the duress of tackling things.

Part of the reason we can’t be effective is that we are trying to take on too many roles, being summoned to prepare yet another snack for insatiable kids while clearing our workspace and trying to answer emails (or write this column). Our brain is overloaded in different directions, ultimately leaving us directionless.
When you have a million things to do, writing out a list will help you visualise everything in front of you. You can then delegate tasks in order of urgency so that you complete what needs to be done first and set manageable goals. Don’t try to organise it in your head as it’s already filled with too much irrelevant information like daily depressing COVID statistics or when you can attend a wedding again (miss you open bar).

But is it just me, or does making that list come with its own distractions? Like researching the best phone apps for organisation and then colour-coding your pens and Post-It Notes so you can always be super prepared for next time. Then you realise you don’t have enough pens so you’re on Lazada ordering a cute set then – boom – suddenly you have six more pairs of shoes coming to you.

Some people are becoming master chefs during this time, learning the art of making paneer or Indian curries, which they should have been doing when their mom was yelling at them to get in the kitchen instead of wasting time with friends. Post after post of gourmet food appears on Instagram stories, making some of us feel bad that we haven’t even perfected the skill of boiling water. But wait, why are you wasting your time on Instagram when you’re supposed to be getting stuff done?

Of course your phone is probably one of the biggest distractions as often told by your dad who pays your bills. You could leave it in another room or locked up in your desk drawer while trying to do other things but then you would be paranoid wondering who messaged you, just to find you only received a spam SMS from some unknown number asking you to click a shady link.

So what’s a person to do? Well, don’t allow yourself to be controlled. There isn’t a supernatural force taking over your mind and forcing your fingers to tap open YouTube. That’s all on you. Make your lists, organise your tasks, and seize the day right from your living room. Even if you get one thing done, that’s better than nothing.

Or take a nap and try again tomorrow.

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