I’m very good at putting things off. For instance, I intended this to be written a month ago. I’m also working on my list of New Year’s resolutions. There’s a few holiday cards I haven’t sent yet… And filing papers … and dusting …
So many other activities and stuff to be done keep interfering with with this activity and other stuff to be done, however: housework. Brushing the cat. Spontaneously re-caulking the entire tub. Staring blankly into space.
You know, important things.
Of course, I never expect any amount of significant time to go by when I put things off. Last week, I finally got around to cleaning some of my art pens. The ink inside had dried to a crust, and it was only then that I realized I’d last used them an entire year ago.
I’m a master procrastinator.
(There should be a word for that. I should think up one. And I will. In a bit.)
I put off the things that don’t have a built-in reminder. For instance, laundry has a reminder: there’s only so long I can go without washing clothes before I’m out of clean socks to wear and can’t really justify buying another pack of socks again.
Not that I’d ever do that. Between paychecks, at least.
These types of activities have direct, immediate benefits: do laundry- fresh clothes. Clean house- clean house. Feed cat- less bleeding.
I need to develop a way to get rewards for doing the tasks I’d rather put off.
(Professional procrastinator? A pro-pro? Eh… no.)
Writing would attract my attention so much more if every sentence finished delivered a piece of candy. And yes, I know some things should be their “own reward”, that accomplishing a goal should simply deliver “satisfaction” etc., etc. However, I guarantee I’d enjoy a peanut butter cup a heck of a lot more.
I don’t think I lack in self-discipline, either. Sometimes, it’s not that I don’t want to do something, it’s just that there is so much more I’d rather be doing instead. There’s also times when I feel guilty about doing one thing when there’s other things I feel would be a better application of the time I have.
It’s hard to sit through a movie for two hours, when I could be reading for that same amount of time. And it’s hard to read for two hours when I could be playing a game instead. And it’s hard to play a game when I know there’s laundry that needs folded before the cat sheds on it because I really need to brush the cat right now but I could make cookies too.
(Promasternator? That … that could lead to confusion. And strange looks.)
I suppose I need to learn to focus. Try not to get distracted by all the things I want to do, but chose one thing, focus on it, stick to it, finish the task. Receive cookie. Assuming I haven’t already focused on all the cookies until they were finished as well.
Turns out I did.
Focus on baking more cookies.
(Now that’s an excellent example of an accomplishment that’s its own reward.)
Still, even once I know what tasks need to be taken care of and have decided where my focus should be, there’s also the time factor to, um, factor: there’s only so many hours in a weekend that can be dedicated to anything that isn’t baked goods.
To be more existential about it, the older I get, the more aware I am of the time I have available. I’m only going to have a finite number of weekends in the future, and I don’t know how many that will be, even. Sometimes, time isn’t so much precious as it is terrifying, especially with the faster it tends to pass with every minute that goes by – time has momentum, it’s running down hill, and no one’s bothered to put in any speed bumps.
I think the cat is also aware of the passing of time in its finite allocation, which is why he interrupts mine so frequently.
(Masterpro! No, that’s just redundant.)
I think the only way to slow the speed of time is, ironically, with accomplishments. Finishing a book, finishing a movie, each lends to a dedicated segment of time that can be easily measured and marked – I watched that movie; I read that book, and in my head I know how much time it took. And the next one doesn’t negate the last one – it just keeps building.
Writing a column, finishing a drawing, painting the garage, they’re not their own reward – the reward is that by spending time on doing something that in many ways has no reason to be done other than because I choose to do it, I’ve slowed down the passage of time by creating something that I can measure it against in terms of the achievement.
It’s not that time passed slower, but my perception of it did. Getting lost in the moment is far different than wasting a moment.
Still, it’s always going to be easier to focus on the concrete than the intangible. One cookie in the stomach is worth two in the hand … or something like that.
I’m always going to put things off.
But by being aware of the problem, I can work on finding a solution, so that eventually, I’ll be Mr. Get-to-it-and-do-it instead of a procrasti-master.
Ha! See? I knew I’d come up with something eventually. That first description though … it needs some more work.