I've finally divined much of the reason for my recent unproductiveness: Rome: Total War.
It's a marvelous game, sharing many elements with my previous problem time-waster, Civilization 4. One difference, however, is that Rome: Total War presents the player with a dynasty with which to control the Roman World. Each member of the family has different attributes, and I'm sorry to say that at least twice, the House of Pharaoh was led by a man whose moniker was "the mad."
But it's a wonderful game. A great combination of elements which range from commanding armies in the field to a larger map-based portion from which the player surveys the known world and plans their conquests. I learned a lot from playing. Asia Minor is a hellacious place to get mired into, but ultimately a good, productive stronghold once it is entirely subjugated. With enough money, Byzantium can be bought. Who is running which city is important.
And the Egpyptian archers in Rome: Total War are awesome. One difference between this and Rise and Fall: Civilizations at War is the brightness of the costumes. Rome is a lot less colorful, giving the gameplay a more gritty, realistic feel. You don't want to mess with Pharaoh's Bowmen:
I intended to play it through just once, just to see the Pharaohs of Egypt conquer the Known World and take Rome. However, the combination of complex elements, managing the major cities, plotting to reinforce this city while dealing with that army made the game time-consuming. Enjoyably so, but it wasn't good for my productivity, especially since I faced a difficult project.
So I say farewell to my mighty dynasty of conquering Pharaohs. Your experiences and sacrifices will someday live on in stories.