Stop Procrastinating, Shut Up & Work!

Saved By the Bell taught us all something valuable: we are truly all Jessie Spanno.

I'm not saying we're addicted to caffeine pills or struggling with our SATs (although if you are, get help), but, like Jessie, we also don't have any time. Ever. And having no time can be so exciting, but it's also terrifying.

Basically, adulthood is a marathon of never having enough time to get anything done, and still having a million things to do. We're always busy, we're always under a deadline, and at one point or another, we end up singing The Pointer sisters and crying instead of doing the things that need to get done. Then, if you're anything like me, you'll descend into "WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING AND WHY AND WHO AND WHAT IF EVERYONE HATES ME" territory, and that shit is just dangerous. You get nothing done in "WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING AND WHY AND WHO AND WHAT IF EVERYONE HATES ME" territory. You freeze up, and you scroll through Tumblr for a million years, and you naval-gaze, and take a million selfies, and then you miss the deadline in question making it even worse.

And it's awful. Honestly, the paralyzing self-doubt that goes along with a pile of work is one of the cruellest tricks our brains can play. So how to overcome it? Well, provided it's not attached to an anxiety or mood disorder (because that's a whole different scenario that I'm not qualified to help with), it's easy: just shut up and do your work.

OHHH HARSH I know. But I have been there. And it wasn't until I was handed a deadline to end all deadlines in February did I have to switch my pep talk from, "You'll treat yourself to a movie after a few pages!" to "shut up and work." And believe it or not, it made a difference. It made a difference to decide not to take anymore shit — whether it be from myself, or even the deadline. Yes, I personified the deadline — sometimes you have to treat a deadline like the villain in an episode of Scandal. Also, from other people, whose work I tended to look at when I was feeling particularly unmotivated.

Which is easy to do. It's easy to look at what other people are doing and either get jealous or spiteful or even convinced you'll never do something as well as them. And you might not do something as well as them. That's a reality that's important to accept, because ultimately, if it's not them, it will be somebody else. There will always be somebody better — and that's okay. In turn, we are all better than somebody, but that's not important. What is important is to work hard and get what you need to do done, and it's as simple as that. Do it well, and keep your eyes on your own paper. It doesn't matter if somebody else did another thing. It doesn't matter if you might have to do a billion edits. It doesn't matter if you feel overwhelmed. Take it step by step, cross things off of your to-do list, and work towards accomplishing your own goals. Give yourself the pep talk you fear the most: shut up, and work. 

It's a very scary pep talk. It's a pep talk that you'd expect an Olympic athlete to get (ask: "What would Yulia Lipnitskaya do?"), or Miranda Priestly to give, but it also makes you look at what you need to do and to acknowledge that you should stop wasting time. Time wasting is a privilege that none of us have right now — particularly if we're in our 20s and trying to make a career stick in an economy in which that can feel impossible. You don't need to be cold, or cutthroat, or mean (actually whatever you do, do not be mean), but you need to stay focused. Because as soon as you lose focus, you're walking aimlessly around the mall, telling yourself you'll go home and work right after you see Need For Speed again because damn it, you worked hard, and you deserve a break. Not that I'm admitting to anything.

We are all tired, we are all excited, we are all scared. But that fear's ass can and will be kicked when you decide to sit down and type, or build, or whatever it is your job asks for you; when you decide that you will squash that self doubt because you can't get your work done when you hear it constantly. You're busy, and important, and deserve to inspire everyone with your ability to handle tasks well. You don't have to be Jessie Spanno — just shut up and do your work.

Tags: career, dealing with writer's block, growing up, hard work, procrastinating, shut up and work, work

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