My fifteen-month-old daughter has recently developed the strength and dexterity to draw. Great, I thought, that’ll keep her busy!
Indeed, her crayons did keep her busy, busy drawing on the toilet, refrigerator, and walls (pre-baby, I thought it would be a good idea to paint everything “bistro white”). Now, there’s an exciting looking green zigzag that marks much of the house.
After a few times reprimanding and wresting crayons from the furious infant, I realized that the crayons and white walls were simply too much temptation for my girl. Now, we practice our art skills outside with chalk. The crayons are now out of reach and only come out for supervised play.
It’s summer break time here, which means that I’ve been lately faced with some of my own temptations. As any academic knows, there’s more freedom with scheduling over the summer and a bit of a relaxed pace, but we’re not necessarily “off.” I have family vacation and some work travel planned for late summer, so I need to use these early summer weeks wisely to make strides on ongoing writing projects.
But faced with a more expansive summer schedule, I find that I’m a bit more susceptible to time sucking temptations than I might be during the school semester during which I jealously guard my precious writing time.
Instead, during the unstructured days of summer, I’m tempted by shiny time wasters that I can’t quite handle, not unlike my daughter, who just can’t quite be trusted with those crayons. For me, though, the temptations are slightly less fun, and instead include light cleaning, online shopping, compulsive email checking, scrolling through twitter. I hope some of you have sexier temptations…these tedious ones are mine.
It’s humbling to realize that as an adult I have about as much self-control when it comes to these activities as my daughter does when faced with a white wall and a green crayon. I simply cannot handle them. In response to this realization, I’m trying to institute a grown-up version of putting the crayons on top of the refrigerator. It’s a plan that involves leaving the house and going to the office some days, frequenting coffee shops with no Wi-Fi, working with others to hold myself accountable, and when I realize that I’m really struggling, using apps with names like “SelfControl”—a chiding reminder that I have none!
So, if you’re a creative worker or academic writer, it may be worth asking yourself at the beginning of this summer season, what’s your green crayon? What’s the “on top of fridge” you can institute so that you can accomplish your most important work?
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