I’m not sure exactly when this started, but sometime in the past six months or so I started thinking about Past and Future Jamie. Sometimes I’ll think: “I could do that thing, but I don’t wanna right now.” Then she puts off the thing. Eventually she becomes Future Jamie, who thinks: “Thanks a lot, Past Jamie, you lazy jerk.”
Obviously there are times when I really don’t want to do the thing, and I don’t do it—and that’s okay. But sometimes it just takes a little more effort, then I get it done. And then: Future Jamie is happy! Time has been saved! Efficiency created! And on those more-frequent-than-I’d-like occasions where I think I’ll have lots of time in the future, but find out that is not the case, this can be the difference between the thing getting done on time—or at all.
This morning was a good, albeit simple example. I helped Jasper do his stretches (Rosie did them too, because she likes doing things—and because treats were involved). Then I took Jasper for a walk (okay, I worked on a jigsaw puzzle first, but that gave the dogs time to play with each other), did some laundry, and thought: I could vacuum, but I don’t wanna. I’ll do it later. Then I remembered: Future Jamie is going to have to vacuum later, and she’s going to be in the middle of something and might not want to stop. So the house might not get vacuumed at all. Or: maybe she’ll stop whatever she’s in the middle of, but the whole thing will take her more time because she’ll have to context switch, and I’m not actually in the middle of anything right now.
So I vacuumed the house, and then: it was done! I was happy that I didn’t have a chore hanging over my head, I knew Future Jamie would be happy (and she was), and Jasper was happy because he got to play vacuum ball (which just means playing with his toys while I vacuum). It was a win-win!
I did not realize that the other human member of the household was going to install a new kitchen sink faucet, take a bunch of dishes out of the kitchen cupboard, and rerun the water line to the ice maker in the fridge…so now part of my afternoon is involving cleaning cupboards, washing dishes, and moving things around. But: just imagine how I’d feel if I had to do all of this and still had to vacuum? Thanks, Past Jamie! 🙂
This concept comes up a lot these days in relation to writing-related tasks. I used to be a very productive procrastinator, where instead of working on the thing I was supposed to be doing, I’d do lots of other things. That way I had lots of accomplishments, so while I knew I hadn’t done the one thing, I still had the satisfaction of having finished other things. But…eventually Future Jamie would have to pay the price.
All of this is part of why I’m so happy to have a publishing schedule for 2020. My schedule is not yet complete—it has all of my anthology deadlines, and due dates for the short stories I have deadlines for (I sneakily set the due dates a month before the stories are actually due…that’ll fool me, right?). But I don’t have deadlines for the three novels I plan on writing this year because I’m just not sure how to handle them. My guess is that the first novel (these are in a series) will take the longest because I’ll be working out the characters and world details, but I really don’t know for sure. I’ve decided to think about this as “get these written as soon as possible and no procrastinating!”
Before jumping in to that project, I need to focus on getting things wrapped up on the current anthologies I’m working on. Some of these tasks could have been done a while ago if Past Jamie had learned her lesson earlier, and some became more time-critical after my friend DeAnna and I decided to set a firm publishing schedule for the Amazing Monster Tales anthology series we co-edit. But I’m staying on track, and am excited about sticking to my schedule for 2020—and about making Future Jamie happy. 🙂