Working in pajamas

Hey, you. Yeah, you. With the pajamas. I know you haven’t washed them in a few weeks, I can feel the smell from all the way in Canada. And I get it. Because I’m wearing my pajamas right now and I haven’t washed them in a while either. We’re all in this together, so lets parse this out a little bit.

When the pandemic hit and we all got permission to work from home, you were probably extatic. “This is awesome,” you thought, “PAJAMAS!” But it’s not that simple. Without the energy of the office environment it’s kinda hard to get into the groove. And yes, the modern open floor plan isn’t ideal for focused work and we used to gripe about that, but not seeing anyone for weeks on end gets old quickly.

When no one is watching, it’s way to easy to check out Hacker News or Twitter or Reddit for a little while and then go down a rabbit hole of understanding how exactly how those mRNA vaccines work or what’s the latest projected layout of Starship is. Hours, days, sometimes weeks go by like that.

Without the discipline annoyingly imposed by the office environment, we’re left to our own devices, our own discipline and we often find it lacking. Instead of making actual progress on our work, we submit vague progress reports and list the problems we encounter all the while building up shame, guilt and fear.

Emotions are a funny thing though, especially negative emotions. We don’t like ’em. And we’d do anything to not feel them. So when the guilt, shame and that quiet terror of being found out come up, we want to run away. And what’s a better refuge than the conveniently endless feeds on social media (not to mention the autoplaying Youtube videos)?

But wait a sec, didn’t we just say that the guilt started with procrastination? Is it also causing it? Oh, now we’re in deep. Real deep.

I don’t know if your boss actually knows you’ve been lying massaging the truth. She’s likely in the same boat, fighting the same demons, too preoccupied with her own procrastination to notice yours. But you know, and so do your pajamas. This positive feedback loop between negative emotions and procrastination is only going to get worse – unless you do something.

The problem with emotions is that we only know two ways to deal with them – express them or supress them (by distracting ourselves). And neither gets us the result we are looking for, which is breaking out of the cycle.

Luckily, there’s a third option, not commonly taught and not well understood outside of postmodern new age circles. Emotions can be released. Releasing emotions isn’t about expressing them, talking about them or thinking about them. It’s about allowing ourselves to feel them, fully, staying with the unpleasantness for as long as neccessary. And letting them evaporate. It’s as natural as taking a shit, but unfortunately we’ve been taught to keep emotions bottled up (especially the men among us). Imagine eating without ever taking a dump. Yeah, that’s what holding on to emotions feels like.

The easiest way to release emotions is to ask yourself a simple question:

Could you allow yourself to feel this fear/anger/guilt?

Contemplate this question. Don’t try to derive an answer, the answer itself isn’t important. Let the question bounce around inside your head for a little while. You may feel something starting to shift.

For some of you, perhaps those who’ve had experience with meditation or therapy, this should be enough. Others may need more help.

That’s why I build Wuju, an app that can help you process and release emotions. My stats of around 2000 people show it can drop the intensity of any negative emotion by up to 90% within a few minutes. If you’re stuck in a procrastination loop, it might be worth a try.

(Wuju is subscription based, but you can try it for as long as you need to see if it works for you.)

Follow me @finereli where I write about emotional intelligence and mental health.