It’s been a long time again since the last post so I thought I’d better do a bit of an update. This is, in some ways, a difficult post to write. You see, it contains a confession and the confession is this: I AM THE QUEEN OF ALL PROCRASTINATORS. OK, I can already hear loads of you out there shouting: “No, I am!” Fine, no need to fight over it, you can have the title if you really want.
But seriously, I have figured out that I will just about do anything to avoid writing. Most normal procrastinators will probably play a few games on Facebook or even suddenly find a need to do some housework. I’ve been there and done that and now I’ve taken it to new heights of sophistication. Or at least I had (note the past tense!). In my last post I wrote that, in order to get some extra income I’d taken up matched betting, which was all very well as it certainly worked – for a while anyway. Then the reloads became harder to do, smaller and basically a lot of work for little money. I’m sure if I’d put more time into it, I could have done better but instead I looked for an easier route and … became a professional gambler.
Roll Them Lucky Dice!
Not recommended for the faint of heart or for those with an addictive nature. Luckily I have neither. But it is far riskier than matched betting despite having quicker, larger rewards in between the losses. For a month or so I did really well and was even able to help my daughter out when she was abroad and broke. I found myself studying horse racing form and football leagues, something which took up most of my time. I was watching races, putting in-play bets on matches and learning to lay the field. In truth I became a bit of a zombie. Another problem for me was that horse racing was potentially the most lucrative, but I really HATED the sport, especially when horses got killed or died of injury afterwards. This actually happened to a few horses I’d put money on; I even saw a couple of them fall. And when they did, I cried, put them on my ‘Roll of Honour’, then placed another bet. I knew was selling out my own morals but I still tried to justify doing so in any way I could.
After a couple of good wins (although nothing to write home about), I became greedy and yup, the inevitable happened: I made a big mistake (or several, to be honest), and lost half of my gambling bank (nothing I couldn’t afford to lose thank goodness). In trying to make it back – another classic gambling mistake – I lost more. I became extremely stressed as I tried harder and harder to predict form and outcomes and began to get depressed again. So I had to stop. As I said earlier, I’m lucky that I don’t have a gambling addiction or else it could have been much worse. I have now stepped back from it all (apart from doing the odd matched bet again) and boy, I felt so much better.
I hadn’t realised until that point just how much it had become a full-time job. In fact, more than full-time because I was working Saturdays and Sundays too. I had stopped doing anything creative, and in turn the lack of that was also making me ill. It took me about three weeks to get back to full strength again. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that gambling is right or wrong; that is for the individual to decide. There are plenty who become terribly addicted and cause misery to their families but there are also others who manage to make a living out of being far cleverer with the odds than I can be. In the middle are the ones like me, who have their wins and losses and, if lucky, come out no richer or poorer than they started. But, if you are one of those who do it for a living, it is bloody hard work and a lot of stress.
Can’t be doing with that!
So, in the aftermath I decided to take a really good look at my life, read some highly recommended self-help books on procrastination, time management and the like: stuff I already knew but it needed reinforcing. I have learned a lot and have been putting it to good use. I used to get up at around 8.30am, stagger around doing some chores, walking the dog etc. Then I’d get to my desk at about 10.30ish with a coffee and procrastinate for an hour or more on Facebook, Amazon, articles – you name it, I used it! 11.30-12.00 – another coffee and more procrastination on whatever I found interesting in the moment. Then before I knew it, it was dinnertime. After dinner, a bit of reading, another look on Facebook just to check that no-one had died, got married or become a Moonie in the last hour. Then if I was lucky I would get a bit of writing done. Or research, or something. And of course no sooner was I settled, then I fancied a cup of afternoon tea and … well, you get me, before long it was time to cook the dinner!
Days and days of being non-productive become a poisonous habit. I hated the fact that I knew I was wasting time away and not using the talents I’d been given. It wasn’t that I had no idea how to fix things – over the years I’ve accumulated quite a bit of knowledge, a toolbox if you like, to deal with writer’s block, wasting time on Facebook, low moods, idea creation, plotting, time management. It was just that somehow, somewhere, I’d lost my mojo for implementing them. It was as if I’d lost belief in myself and my future.
Talk about needing a kick up the arse!
And so I did – and am. I instituted ‘Project Kick Myself Up the Arse’ and set to finding ways in which I could re-instill my former sense of discipline. Well, as I said previously, I re-educated myself and re-minded myself of what was possible through various brilliant books (there will be reviews of them soon, I promise I won’t keep them to myself). The long and the short of it is that I discovered the best way to be productive is to get up earlier, schedule in my writing time so that it is an unbreakable ‘date’, exercise more, drink more water and, if I have to, use blocking apps on the sites I waste time on most. It’s early days but it seems to be working. Getting up early is hard, but has its own rewards in terms of birdsong and fresh air, and my word count has really improved. I am productive again and I am happy. More books will surely follow!
Of course, it can be tough when you’ve had a bad night to still fulfil all that needs to be done, but that’s part of the challenge. You can bet I’ll be updating this blog a hell of a lot more often now and sharing my struggles and successes with you. And whatever works, I shall be sharing it too, as I know many of you struggle with the same issues. So stay tuned, this baby’s about to rocket into space!