We all procrastinate. It gets us in trouble, but we still do it. My mother used to joke that my father always put off paying the bills until the last minute — and when he died he hadn’t paid the bills for that month. She thought it was a win for him.
I’ve got some procrastination thoughts that I’d like to share; seriously, I intended to post this last week! You might want to start with this blog on the “Not Now” Self. I think procrastination is another three legged stool, and it is a hard one to get to balance.
There are a few things I know about myself and procrastination:
- I will not do anything before I am ready, and nothing — even threats, embarrassment, or losing out — will get me to do it.
- This has nothing to do with desire.
- I have to sort out the pieces because I freak out when things are too big.
- Huge projects are difficult to pick up and put down, and I love huge projects.
- I rarely plan enough time.
- There is always something more appealing to do.
- Hard work isn’t the solution.
How can I overcome each of these procrastination obstacles? I will share what I do, not because you should do the same thing, but because you may find it useful in finding your own path.
Lists are pretty much the only way I can find my way out of this part of my procrastination cycle. Before I can get things done, I need to know what has to be done. Creating the lists is both soothing and overwhelming. Everything needs to be listed and prioritized; it is so easy to get distracted thinking “Oh, I can just get this done”.
Much of what I do needs research or development. I am literally a research and development department! The online research is perfect to do when I need a break from other things and it tends to get me jazzed. I love to discuss components of projects with myself. The trick is knowing what I need to research, and what the problems are that I need to discuss. Note: I rarely talk out loud to myself, but trust me the conversations are lively!
Sorting Out the Pieces:
See above! I gotta make those lists. Then I sort through for things that I can easily do, things I like to do, things that I need some preparation to do, and what I am going to put off! Once I tackle some of the easy or like to do things I will usually feel motivated to do more.
Okay, I’m a big thinker! It seems like all of my projects start with one thing, and become a series of answers to “what if?”. Once things get big, it become hard for me to tackle pieces, and to see the big picture. There is only one thing to do. Yep. Fight procrastination with the lists. I used to do this at the public library between my hair appointment and my Pilates appointment once a month. Haven’t been to the public library since February of 2020. For a while we were sitting outside (until about mid-October) while the house cleaner went about her tasks, and that was excellent for working on lists. Then it moved to the dining room table when we had to be inside, but on separate floors. After we were all vaccinated we aren’t even doing that! I need to establish some regular list-making time.
Time? How Long Will It Really Take?
This is likely my real Achilles. Everything is a juggling act because I don’t plan well. Then I put something down, and it is so hard to pick it back up again because it either seems overwhelming, or I can’t remember. No wonder I procrastinate!
Oh Let Me Do That!
- Start a new project.
- Attend to any one of the dozens of tasks I have waiting for my attention.
- “Oh, yeah, I really, really should be doing that.”
Just now I got up from my desk to check the weight of a skein of yarn to redo a sample I’m not happy with, thinking I should reknit it. Okay, back to regular programming; we’ll just put that thought off.
Hard Work Is Great, But It Won’t Solve Procrastination
I used to think I could conquer everything by just working really, really hard. Not only is it exhausting, but it isn’t a solution. You have to have a plan, which you then adjust as needed, but stick to plan. You always have to know where you are going.
I have learned to embrace my procrastination. Or at least make the most of it. When I really don’t want to do something, it is usually a sign that I am, for reasons that may not be clear to me, not ready. This blog shows photos of projects that I could sort out and publish. I have so many things I want to do, so maybe I can use publishing these to buy myself some time on other things. I know this sounds illogical, but I am feeling a plan starting to develop. There will be a lot of discussion over this weekend!
Lindsay Lewchuk says
Love it! And yes, diving down rabbit holes and bird walking are a big part of my process too. That photo at the end – such a cool design and the length so much fun!
Are they rabbit holes or research? So much I used to beat myself up about turns out to be just part of how I get things done.