I am without a doubt a fantastic procrastinator. I’m not proud of it, but admitting it is the first step… right? I have great lists of intentions and the same tasks slide over from day to day. Days turn into weeks into months into years and then I start feeling really stink and sick in the pit of my stomach; like I am incapable of achieving anything. And so the cycle begins. But really, I can achieve things I have set out to do – I am in the fourth year of writing this blog after all.
Have you noticed that when you don’t have much on your plate, you don’t do much on your plate. You just push the peas around to make it look like you have eaten more. It’s like time is all you have in the world, to push peas and annoy yourself with that accidental horrible knife meets plate scraping sound.
I’m really bad at lying in the sun and zapping all of my energy, instead of sitting down and writing my book. I justify it by telling myself that it’s a beautiful day and I should be outside; that I’m reading, which is great research and learning for a writer like myself, and that I’m multi-tasking by tanning and vitamin D makes you happy and and and…. and I like to take opportunities that come my way (like lying in the sun) to the detriment of stuff I should be doing (and probably to my youthful looking skin). Right now, a rainbow coloured bird is stalking around my yard, distracting me. It’s the rainbow coloured bird’s fault, right? Right…..? …… sigh.
I have a bucket list and sometimes I will go months without crossing a single thing off. That was nowhere near what my intention of it was in the first place. Arrrggghhhh…. Bucket lists aren’t meant to be a chore, they are a reward for being awesomely you and living the life that you want to lead.
I dream and have tons of amazing ideas that all come oozing out of my brain and if I don’t write them down straight away they poof into fairy dust and bugger off somewhere else. Maybe the rainbow coloured bird has flown off with them? I talk about ideas with myself and begin with such passion, drive and zeal and then it peters off and is left in the fridge like those salad ingredients that started off fresh and now look defeated and mangy because I totally intended to eat my 5 plus a day, every day this week. Shit. Time to clean out the veggie drawer.
But then I decided to make a change*. Yes, a change in my thinking and approach. I believe that we have choices and have the power to change once we make that conscious decision that we want for better. Like the time I looked at a Christmas photo of myself in ‘04 with 500 chins and a possibility of being related to the marshmallow man and then I made an effort. No more fat NJ. I joined Weight Watchers in the new year and worked my arse off to go from wearing a pair of size 20 pants to now, I am a NZ size 8. I still have the pants which if I was desperate, could use as a sleeping bag.
For the past couple of summers I had looked wistfully out at the paddle boarders on the ocean, wanting to give it a go. Their rhythmic oar sweeps captivating me as a partly meditational, part crazy-awesome core and arm workout. This summer I made the decision that I would give it a go and as soon as I put it on my list, I booked a lesson. It’s invigorating and tiring at the same time, but I’m super stoked that I have finally done it! It turns out that I love it, like I knew that I would.
So how do we counter-act this procrastination problem? There are some days where it is completely justified to mong around because you are so dog-tired from a hard week. But even then, sometimes I think after lolling around on the couch covered in crumbs and in a bad daytime TV coma, “Shit, I’ve got all of this stuff to do.” It consumes me, making me feel awful guilty that hours have passed.
I’m a lister from way back. I have a bucket list, a year list, a week list, a day to day list. But I’ve found that when I make my lists way too long or intense, they become unachievable pieces of paper that sneer at me and make me feel like I’m not going anywhere. “I need to…..” becomes a constant in my daily vocab. Nobody likes the sound of a broken record, especially if that broken record is yourself harping on like a small child. So now I put a reasonable amount of things to do on there. Not too little, not too much – a very Goldilocks just right. Sometimes I take a task from the extra list (I use a whiteboard), that has all of the annoying little jobs or personal letters to write, that bug me in the back of my mind. That’s two ticks off in one go!
What I think are the most boring, laborious or hardest tasks always seem to end up on a conveyer belt and buggering off to a far-reaching place. It’s so much better to pick them up as they cruise on by, before doing the other fun stuff and just go ahead and do them. I always feel amazing after I’ve done something I thought was way too hard (which usually didn’t end up being that bad in the end). It’s such an achievement.
Look at what you’re using to procrastinate; is it one more page, one more song, one more game? I’m learning to tame the distractions. I’ve gotten into the habit of waking up and checking my facebook , twitter and emails first thing off my phone while I’m still lying in bed. Half an hour floats by and I wonder why the heck I just did that when I could have gotten up and exercised. Then I check everything again at 9. That’s some crazy time-wasting points racked up right there. I know that by changing this habit, it is going to give me more time to write my book. That and the not constantly checking updates and leaving that for certain times of the day, so that I am using my time in a more efficient way. So hard I know, when we have been recently conformed to this instant society. Seeing who has ‘liked’ my status update can most definitely wait until a window after dinner.
If you seriously don’t think you have time in your day to perform required tasks; make your list smaller, turn off the TV or talk to my sister-in-law about time management. She has 5 kids under 11, including a 6 month old, looks after another 6 month old during the day and has a husband that does shift work. Amazing, don’t you think? Yes, yes & yes!
How do you counteract your time-wasting tendencies? I’d love to know.
Yay! It’s lunchtime. Time to check twitter.
*I didn’t have the heart to interrupt my powerful go get ‘em attitude sentence with parenthesis admitting that I was going to do this last week. Excuses, excuses….. ahem. Ra di ra di rah, the diet starts tomorrow kind of thing (the diet always starts tomorrow…). The awesome thing is that I am doing it now. Cold turkey, no procrastination – routine and order in check!