Thursday, 1 October 2015

Confessions of a procrastinator

On the 4th of August 2015, I undertook a journey that might perhaps prove to be the most career defining moment of my life. I moved from Chennai to Chicago for my master's. I was leaving home for two years at the least and I had to bid goodbye to the nearest and dearest of my family and friends. I quit my job at Zoho on the 19th of June and had a good 45 days in hand to shop for everything I needed to survive in my new home, pack them up and to meet all my friends one last time before I left.

I also had other plans. At the time when I had still been working, I had planned my post-quitting schedule - to take my motorcycle out for a ride to Bangalore, Bellary and all the way till Hyderabad, as soon as I had finished all my purchase. I had promised my friends and family that I would be doing the ride as soon as I quit my job. What was more surprising was that my parents didn't even raise an eyebrow and I had their full permission to go anywhere I wanted to. The most exciting phase of my life was all set to commence.

The very day after I quit my job, I woke up all excited and made plans to prepare the list of things that I needed to purchase. But as I had 44 more days in hand, I decided to make the list on the next day, and then the next day. And so, my routine was like this - I woke up at 10:30am, slept again at 1:30pm, woke up at 4:30pm and slept again in the wee hours of the morning. The time in between was spent on working on a few illustrations, personal and freelance projects. I started enjoying this schedule and over three weeks went by. I just had about twenty days left.

My mom was getting worried about the fact that I wasn't taking things seriously. She took a break from her job to help me out with all the purchase. She prepared the list for me and every day, we would shop for a few things. But it wasn't going as per what I had in my mind. The things that I thought would take a day to buy, took three. Buying clothes and winter wear took over a week. All the kitchenware, baggage, shoes and everything else was still pending. I had just over two weeks to go. But it still seemed manageable to get everything.

I had to make an impromptu jaunt to Thanjavur - an overnight journey from Chennai, to get some work done at my alma mater. That took a day. A couple of days later, I frantically made a journey to Bangalore for a day to meet my friends. My parents wouldn't allow me to take my motorcycle as I had less than ten days left now and I would be unnecessarily taking a huge risk. I took a bus, met six of my friends in Bangalore and got back to Chennai. That took one more day off my already messed up schedule.

In the end, I still had to meet a lot of friends in Chennai, but couldn't. There was no time left. It dawned upon me that there was going to be no long ride in my motorcycle, at least for two more years. That I had not kept my word on meeting my friends one last time before I left. I realised that I could have avoided getting into this imbroglio had I not procrastinated earlier. I'm not a lazy person, but unless there's an impetus, the person inside me simply refuses to act.

I had five days left. I had to buy stationaries, electrical items, make photocopies of all my documents, buy a few comestibles to survive the first few days, and so on. That day, as soon as I woke up, I decided to write everything down. I prepared a written list of things that had to be done. As usual, as soon as I had my lunch, I went into my room to take a short nap. But as soon as I saw the written list on my desk, it wouldn't let me sleep. I immediately took my motorcycle out to shop for everything I had on the list. It took less than five hours to buy everything and once I had done with the list, it felt as if I were ready for my journey. I had achieved something in five hours, which I couldn't achieve in five weeks.

I have used several To-do list apps in the past like Wunderlist, Google Keep, etc. - all of them have helped me remember all the critical stuff, but haven't prompted me to finish things at the right time, or at the soonest possible time. On the other hand, writing things down and keeping the note on my work desk seems more efficient in helping me organize my time and kill procrastination. This has happened several times in the past and writing things down has always saved the day. While I don't intend to make this article as a motivational piece for people to read, I really hope that this incident would serve as a fine example to make me procrastinate less in the future.