Is Productivity All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

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This weekend, I did some much-needed grocery shopping, visited the in-laws, and finally added my number to my husband’s cell account. It’s about time this married lady left her parents’ family plan!

I also paid bills, cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom, and watched 3 or 4 episodes of Shameless, which we’re currently binge-watching every day.

And yet…trickery! Here are things I managed to avoid by accomplishing lesser feats:

  • Canceling our pitifully unused gym memberships
  • Filing the mountain of paperwork that’s overtaken my husband’s studio
  • Hanging pictures on the walls (I figure that by the time we get around to do this, we’ll have all of 2 days to enjoy looking at them before we have to take them down and repaint for the next tenants)
  • Fixing the toilet handle (What? Sticking your hand inside the tank ten times a day to manually engage the flapper isn’t sooo bad)
  • Bringing the tub of Christmas decorations to the storage unit (It’s only been sitting in the back of our truck for 2 weeks)

I’m starting to recognize my textbook-procrastinator tendency to excuse the things I’ve not accomplished by patting myself on the back for “accomplishing” a laundry list of negligible chores.

Wash dishes? Big deal—tax season is coming up, so organizing that paperwork is much more important.

Moved my phone number to my husband’s account? It’s good, yes, but toilet flushing probably should have been a higher priority.

But my weaselly procrastinating psyche would much rather browse new phones than waste-removal accessories.

And it’s easier to deal with the dishes, all of which have a precise place in the kitchen. It’s a tedious but fairly mindless task. Filing paperwork, on the other hand? There’s always a couple pieces that don’t fit in my designated folders, and those throw me for a loop.

I put them to the side and continue on with the easy stuff: paycheck, credit card bill, bank statement, etc. No problem! But that notice from AAA that we can purchase cheap life insurance? That seems like something I ought to read carefully and discuss with my husband before I put it somewhere…but this time isn’t for thinking! It’s for finishing! So there it will sit for another two weeks until I either throw it away, pick a folder, or…nevermind, it will never reach the discussion phase. There is no third option. But I like to think there will be.

My life seems destined to be made up of only two options: Things completed right away and Things never completed. The dangerous part is that I kid myself into thinking there’s a third option: Things that will eventually be completed once I accomplish x number of other things. They always end up in the Things never completed pile in the end, but their presence up to that point impedes my ability to make more progress in the Things completed right away pile.

I’m trying not to get down on myself though. I feel like it’s a step in the right direction that I’m noticing these things about the way I think. Now I just need to learn to think with a two-option method and admit that some of those things I want to get to will never make my actual priority list.

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Snow Day: 1, Kristin: 0

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Kristin Avoiding Stuff

Photo by Kristin Indorato

Is there any more perfect day for a procrastinator than a snow day?

There was quite the blizzard today, and my office was closed. Guess what I did with my free bonus day. Nothing!

It’s almost time for bed now, and there are still dirty dishes in the sink, unfiled papers, and unpaired socks.

I could have:

  • cleaned the house
  • read a book
  • updated my photography website
  • painted my nails
  • done a puzzle
  • played with makeup
  • scrapbooked
  • sorted magazine cutouts
  • or pretty much anything

Instead, I sat. I napped. I ate junk food and watched a whole lot of crummy television that I wasn’t interested in.

Now that my day has come to an end, I rushed to pay bills and update this blog so that I wouldn’t feel like all 13 hours were a waste (yes, I said I napped).

At least it’s something, right? I’m here admitting it instead of hiding under the covers.

And I did manage to do some last-minute stuff. I washed some of the dishes, put a few of the clean ones away, uploaded some photos to my computer…beginning to sense a pattern here. I did do some stuff today, but I didn’t complete a single thing I set out to do. Except publish this. Go me!

My Name Is Kristin, And I Am A Procrastinator

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Hi! My name is Kristin, and I am a longtime sufferer of procrastination.

My whole life, I assumed that my procrastinating nature was just one of the many personality traits that make me the unique snowflake I am—until I read these two articles by Tim Urban of waitbutwhy.com: Why Procrastinators Procrastinate and How to Beat Procrastination.

If you’re a procrastinator, I highly recommend you read them. I’d tell you to read them after you’re done doing what you were supposed to be doing when you landed here, but I know you won’t. After all, I stumbled across the first segment while avoiding writing an article that was due the following morning.

Anyway, when I got to the end of those two articles, I was floored. I felt like my true self had just revealed itself to me.

From the time I was in grammar school until about a week ago (we’re talking two decades), I wondered how I could be so achingly earnest in my desire to do well and make everyone proud, yet consistently set myself up to fail. Part one of Tim Urban’s article slapped me in the face with the reality that my particular brand of procrastination is not a bizarre oddity singular to me, but a psychological issue that lots of people face. And they face it in such a similar way that reading about others’ experiences sounds like I’m reading about my own. That idea had never occurred to me before. I kind of just thought I was crazy.

Since reading Urban’s shockingly familiar explanation of why I procrastinate, I started investigating other information on the procrastinator’s experience. And I uncovered even more shockingly familiar tales and traumas:

  • The excitement of starting new projects only to abandon them shortly thereafter for fear of failure.
  • Not following through on promises, obligations, or personal projects because of a crippling anxiety that if it’s not perfect, it won’t be met with much-craved approval.
  • Cruel, damaging self-talk.
  • Avoidance of people who you think you might have disappointed, overwhelmed by the thought of having your fear confirmed.

But I also found tips, advice, and comfort. And I am now obsessed with the idea that I can fix this about myself. The core issues that spur my procrastination will always be there, and I’ll need to work on them as well—my perfectionism, fear of failure and confrontation, etc.—but I can certainly work on combating my knee-jerk reaction to procrastinate. And that’s how this blog came to be.

Now that I’m starting to learn about my procrastination, I realize I need to hold myself accountable for following through on things. And what better way to keep up with my active “recovery” than to let the world in on it? So I hope you’ll join me on my journey to being a less-likely-to-procrastinate procrastinator. Let’s begin!

P.S. In true procrastinator fashion, I wrote this all last night and then looked up baby names for two hours instead of posting it. (Nope, not expecting a baby.)