Playing chess again and its role in productivity

So it seems I may have rekindled an interest in playing chess on-line. Surely, this can’t possibly have anything to do with a previous post regarding why I’m not blogging as much.

No, I didn’t think so. Surely I’ve not taken up the chess again in order to avoid Personal Project B, which surely wasn’t devised in order to avoid Personal Project A?
And surely neither Personal Project A, nor B were devised in order to avoid Work?
And surely, this blogging I’m doing now hasn’t been implemented in order to avoid all previously mentioned activities?

To be entirely frank, I have finally devised a sufficiently complex web of tasks that will allow me to properly implement the concept of structured procrastination.

I have work to do, which I’m paid to do.
Work consists of a number of sub-tasks. These sub-tasks are:

  • Work for clients (billable hours, which earns the company, and consequently me, money)
  • Administration/innovation (non-billable time which earns the company nothing — at least not directly )

I group administration and innovation together simply because they don’t directly earn me any money. I tend to prefer to do tasks in the second category. During office hours, those should be the only activities I should be carrying out.
If you know anything about structured procrastination you’ll know that there aren’t enough categories of things to do for the procrastinator (a.k.a me) to actually get anything done.

This is why Project A was initiated. Project A is effectively “write a novel.” It was, “write a novel in 30 days” but I hadn’t fully established my structured procrastination web at the time, and so didn’t quite finish in time.

Project A
Project A is ostensibly an after hours project. In other words, something I will never work on at the office. Pfffft.

Thus, the next procrastination layer is set in place. Project A, although predominantly worked on at home, occasionally is used at the office as part of the structured procrastination strategy.

Unfortunately, I soon found that I was struggling to work on Project A as much as I’d like to. Writing a novel seemed a little overwhelming. It’s a lot of words, and they all need to relate to each other in some way. I can’t just write randomly generated words. That would leave me with a novel-sized piece of spam.
Evidently, to avoid writing the longer story, it would make sense to write shorter stories. Thus, the birth of Project B.

Project B
Project B, as I have now given away, is a writing project. If you know me well enough, that would probably have been fairly obvious. I will spend time writing a gift for people. The gift will be the writing, and it will also be the time I spent writing it.

So, the gift that spawns from Project B is something I created while avoiding doing something else. It could be argued that this fact devalues the gift. To that I counter with, “Next time I’ll just browse meaningless crap on the internet, and your gift will be me telling you ‘I browsed meaningless crap on the internet, for you.'”

FICS (Free Internet Chess Server)
As if that’s not enough, I suddenly remembered that I used to play chess a lot, and I thought I should try out the FICS again.
I originally signed up in 1998, but never played on-line that much then. The not even 28k modem might have had something to do with that — also my irrational fear of having to interact with strangers (even anonymous ones). Sometimes they wanted to chat, and not just play chess. The horror!

having got over those hang-ups, I’ve started playing again. At home and at work, during my breaks (honest). Of course, my breaks seem to get a little extensive sometimes.
Gloriously, this allows me to side-step the inconvenience of always writing things. The structure of my procrastination is heavily weighted towards writing things. The chess allows me to break that monotony, just a little.

Let’s review what we’ve learned so far today:
Avoid work by doing admin.
Avoid admin by doing Project A.
Avoid Project A by doing Project B.
Avoid Project B by logging in to FICS.

Closing the loop
Now, the clear problem is finding something to avoid that will make me want to do work instead.
What I’ve described so far isn’t, strictly speaking, structured procrastination. But so what. This is my take on it.

To close the loop, I need to do something to avoid playing chess. Now, I’d rather play chess than work — so that’s not going to cut it.
So, I bring blogging into the equation. Following on the logic that I stopped blogging for a while, but wanted to blog more regularly than I had been, it’s clear that I was procrastinating posting new entries. This is excellent news indeed.

I hereby set the completely unrealistic goal of posting a useful entry every week day. I know there’s no way I’ll be able to stick to that, but I assert that I must do it. It’s important.

Now, in order to avoid blogging everyday, I’ll do some work, thus closing the loop.

7 thoughts on “Playing chess again and its role in productivity”

  1. “Author practices jumping rope with seaweed while work awaits”

    It’s still one of the most classic procrastination quotes I think I’ve ever seen 🙂

  2. man, that was a very good post, you need to add in the loop somewhere – reading other peoples blogs 🙂

  3. Yeah, good point. Lurking on the intertubes should not have been overlooked.
    Perhaps writing and reading stuff on the net can be viewed as the same thing?

  4. Yeah, true, however – procrastination rocks – or it would rock if had the inclination to do it 🙂

  5. What a brilliant post! Finally I find a self-help tip I can really use. And since I can use it to be more productive, the fact that I found it in the middle of the day on a Tuesday, at work, need not make me feel even a little guilty :).

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