Posts Tagged With: procrastination

Day 82: The Equal Time Rule

Years ago, I made up a “rule” for myself, to deal with my (human) tendency to focus on the negatives. If you’re like me in this way (and most people I meet seem to be), you automatically zero in on whatever isn’t “right” — possible sources of future trouble, critical comments, negative people, the “fly in the ointment,” mistakes, and so on.

As I’ve written in this blog before, this makes sense, purely from a survival standpoint. If there’s danger out there, it’s helpful for our bodies and minds to focus on that.  If everything else is idyllic and safe, but there’s a potentially dangerous creature strolling by, that’s going to get all of our (and our ancient ancestors’) attention.

But this survival instinct can screw us up. It can cause us to over-emphasize the negative while dismissing the positive — reducing our joy, interfering with connections to others, and promoting worry and regret.

Several Cognitive Distortions (listed here), relate to that, including:

Negative filtering (also known as “Disqualifying the positive”).
This is when we focus on the negative, and filter out all positive aspects of a situation.  For example, you get a good review at work with one critical comment, and the criticism becomes the focus, with the positive feedback fading or forgotten. You dismiss positives by explaining them away — for example, responding to a compliment with the thought, “They were just being nice.”

and

Magnifying or Minimizing.
We exaggerate the importance of some things (our mistakes, a critical reaction, somebody else’s achievements, things we haven’t done). Also, we inappropriately shrink the magnitude of  other things  (for example, our good qualities, compliments, what we have accomplished, or someone else’s imperfections).

and

Overgeneralization.
We come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, you expect it to happen over and over again. Example: seeing one incident of rejection as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat and failure.

 

So where’s the friggin’ rule, Ann?

 Yes, I started out this post promising a rule I made up, to help deal with overemphasizing the negative.  I put this rule in my list of  remedies  for cognitive distortions, and here it is:

The Equal Time Rule.  To be fair, why not balance out the time spent on negative thoughts with positive thoughts?  For example, if you spend a certain amount of time worrying or catastrophizing about something that then turns out okay, consider spending that much time feeling good about the outcome. Or, if you are focusing on a negative, critical person and worrying about how they might affect you, try to give equal time and power to a positive, supportive person.

Okay, time for an example!

Several posts this year have mentioned my dread of working on my income taxes (like here and here).

(I don’t know why I freak out, so much, about doing my taxes each year.  I have a lot of self-knowledge and insight, or so I’m told, but I still don’t understand THAT, which I could probably explore in a ridiculously long post and/or another year of therapy).  (But not now.)

Here is my yearly To Do List about taxes:

February 15. Start worrying about and dreading working on your taxes.Don’t actually do anything, but definitely beat yourself up about (1) procrastinating and (2) worrying so much about this, which is dopey and really getting old.   Make sure you compare yourself to other people who have (1) completed their taxes and/or (2) aren’t as weird as you about worrying about this.  Schedule a few weekends when you’re definitely going to work on this, but then don’t. Make sure to feel guilty about scheduling and then not following through.  Try not to tell people how weird you are about this, but if you do tell people, make sure to feel dopey about that.

March 15. Continue doing all of the above, but more frequently and intensely. Note the amount of time you’ve wasted feeling bad about this and ask yourself questions like, “Why do you do this every year?”  Decide that this year, you’ve gone further than you usually do in procrastinating;  feel  bad and somewhat panicky about that. Notice that the worrying about taxes is getting in the way of your anticipating the arrival of your favorite season — Spring! Feel REALLY bad about that.

The End of March:  Always get done what you need to, somehow.

(Note that I’ve left something out here:  my frequent uses of remedies and antidotes to help myself feel better during this process.) (Again, I’m overemphasizing the negative and minimizing the positive, in how I’m telling THIS story.)  (Eeeek!)

THE PUNCHLINE

This year, I did the above routine again — as usual,  starting around February 15.

AND, as usual,  I finished the routine this past week. That is,  I’m done with my preparation (and dread) about taxes for this year.

If I were to use my made-up Equal Time Rule, I would spend as much time and intensity feeling GOOD about completing my taxes as I did feeling bad about NOT doing them.  That means I would spend more than a month, from now on, feeling relieved and great.

Will I do it?  Nah. Not even close, people.

But I LOVE that idea.  And by having that rule, even if I don’t keep it, I invite myself to feel as good as I possibly can for as long as I can possibly can.

Because it’s only fair, right?

Thanks for reading.

 

© 2013  Ann Koplow      (for my Equal Time Rule)

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Day 69: To Do Lists (How NOT to get overwhelmed)

So!   I’ve been learning a lot lately about managing tasks and ideas, almost as quickly as this guy:

gary-lockwood

(For previous references to this Star Trek episode in this blog, see here and here.)

Here are some things I’ve been learning (and re-learning) about getting things done, without feeling overwhelmed.  (By the way, if you feel overwhelmed by the length of this list — or by all the links  in this post —  see #1, below.)

# 1. You don’t have to do everything immediately.

Often, you don’t even have to do anything immediately.

When I think of something I have to do, sometimes I act immediately for fear that I’ll forget it or I won’t do it.  And sometimes that immediate action is not only unnecessary, it’s not advisable.  (For example, lately I have been fighting the urge to record an idea or make a phone call on my cell phone while I’m driving.)

Have faith that if an idea is important, it will re-occur to you in the future. When you think of a task you need to do, even if it feels urgent, take a breath and allow yourself to ask a few questions about it — How urgent is this, really?  How should I prioritize it? When might I have time to do it well enough?

In general, have faith in your process. Try  telling yourself “I have all the time I need” (even if you don’t really believe it).

# 2. It can help to write things down.

To Do Lists for tasks and lists of ideas can be very helpful, especially for actions or ideas that (1) you can’t act on it on the moment or (2) you are likely to forget.

I have mixed feelings about To Do Lists.  They can help me remember things, but I’m concerned they might become Dreaded Lists of Shoulds and Proof To The Universe about What I’m Not Doing.

Also, I might lose a To Do List, and then spend precious time looking for the friggin’ thing.

However, I do have a big notebook at work where I write down my Really Important Things To Do, and that seems to work.  I’ve been trying to use my various electronic devices, too, as additional Ticklers, Reminders,  Updates, Notifications, etc. etc.  but haven’t quite mastered those options yet.

A Digression (and short Temper Tantrum) about Tasks and  Technology

There are SO many choices of how my cell phone, my lap top, and work computer can  remind me about stuff!!  Eeeek! That gets  overwhelming.  It’s like technology is getting better at helping us keep track of things at the same exact pace that technology is making us need to keep track of more things.

End of Digression

#3.  If there is an idea or a task that you CAN act on in the moment, consider doing it in the moment.

This may sound contradictory with #1 above, but there you go.

Letting go of shoulds and the anxiety about “I have to do this NOW!” can help you act in the here and now (and procrastinate less).

Here are some thoughts that can make it difficult to act in the moment:

  • This is important, so I have to do it well (or perfectly).
  • I don’t have enough time!! (Hint: there’s never enough time for perfection.)
  • There’s a chance for failure here, and that would make me feel worse.

To deal with paralyzing perfectionism, fears of failure, and too-much-to-do,  practice giving  yourself some slack.   Try doing something  that’s Good Enough, within a short period of time.  Making some progress will help (and you can always go back to it later).

#4.  Set limits with other people.

If other people are involved in the tasks you need to do,  it’s very helpful to set their expectations.  This can do wonders in reducing future anxiety — it’s like an anti-anxiety inoculation!

Here’s how it works.  When somebody is making a request of you (verbally or implied), respond with some version of this:

I can do this. I cannot do that.

An expanded version  of the above is:

I can do these things  (by this time).  I cannot do these things (unless I get more resources). 

You might worry that the person you are setting limits with will take offense at that.  If you are clear, direct, and specific, they will probably appreciate knowing this information.  And,  they will be more likely to leave you alone while you are getting things done!

You might not set limits or manage expectations perfectly. You might  promise something initially which you can’t meet. (I’m getting better at setting limits, but I tend to over-promise and under-estimate the time I need to do something.) If you over-promise or under-estimate,  let  the other person know as soon as possible,  thus reducing your future anxiety and guilt, as well their potential pissed-off-ed-ness. 

#5. Allow yourself the room to be “not perfect.”

You may think you need to be perfect, but nobody else expects that from you. (If somebody does expect perfectionism from others, they will be disappointed. If they don’t learn from that disappointment, they will be disappointed — and ineffective at dealing with people — their whole lives.)

You  don’t  have to get things right the first time — whether it’s managing expectations, writing, or anything else. You can recover from most “mistakes.”

Do you believe that?

Try believing it, and see what happens.

#6. Set limits with yourself.  

Give yourself a time limit to work on something. Limit the number of tasks you are going to try to accomplish.  

For example, I find it helps me to set a time limit on how long I spend writing my blog posts during the week days, and also limit myself to one blog post per day.

#7. Take care of yourself.

If you feel overwhelmed, take a break. Consider the possibility that you don’t HAVE to do anything right now. (I wrote a long post about that, here.)

If you are physically uncomfortable, change your position or adjust the heat.

If you need food, get yourself some (as soon as you can).

If you need sleep, get yourself some (as soon as you can).

#8.  Prioritize.

Recognize that you might have too much to do, and  choose one task to do next.

Let go of guilt and judgment about what you’re not doing. (I wrote more about that, here.)  

Notice and compensate for distorted priorities.

(Here’s some typical distorting prioritizing from me, which I’m doing less these days:

I need to do this NOW, because if I don’t, this person will be ANGRY, and I’m afraid of that person or I’m afraid I will lose that person.)

Where I work, everybody has too much to do, and that seems to be getting worse as time goes on.  People are coming up with creative ways to deal with this.

A  nurse I really like came into my office the other day to share how she manages having too much to do, without becoming overwhelmed.

One of the things she told me was, “I ask myself,  ‘Which is the task and which is the interruption?’  If I  can’t tell which is which, that means I’m overwhelmed. Then, I choose one and proceed with that one. And …. I cannot  choose incorrectly.”

I thought that was great.

#9. Recognize that there are some tasks you just don’t want to do.  

Allow yourself to have some sort of tantrum about that, if that would help.

 (I DON’T WANT TO WORK ON MY TAXES TODAY!!!!!! It’s not fair!!!)

(Better.)

Then, break that task into small steps and take the next one.

(First, I have to locate my documents. How about one document?  That seems do-able)

Consider giving yourself a reward for doing a task you don’t want to do. 

(I’m going to see the movie “Argo” at 4:30!!)

Also, try to reduce the pain of the actual process.

(Somebody at a group last week suggested working on taxes while listening to music you really love. I’ll listen to music on my headphones while looking for these friggin’ documents.)

Let go of cognitive distortions and the resulting guilt or shame about this:

( What’s the matter with me?  This shouldn’t be so hard!  I’m such a weird-o about doing taxes. Other people don’t have this problem. I probably shouldn’t even be writing about this in the blog. People are going to think I’m strange!  There is NO reason why I haven’t been able to get to this before today!)

(Hmmm. Actually, all of those statements above are false.)

(Better.)

#10.  Figure out short cuts and save them, for future easy access and use.  

Figure out short cuts that work for you, and try to make these short cuts easy- to-access, especially when you’re in the midst of being overwhelmed.

I’ve been trying to figure out short cuts at work lately, because I have way too much to do. (Like everybody else there.)  For example, I’ve been making templates of the notes I need to write,  giving myself prompts and choices for information I need to include. 

I’ve been trying to figure out short-cuts here, too, so I can blog more quickly and efficiently. For example, I looked for a short-cut, yesterday, for inserting a copyright symbol at the end of a blog post.

It’s even simpler than I expected. You can simply type a copyright symbol. On a Mac, it’s Option + G. 

#11. Let go of judgment about how you’re doing.

Tell yourself “I’m doing the best I can” in managing tasks and ideas (whether or not you believe it). Cut yourself some slack, especially if you’re doing something new (or something that feels new, because you haven’t done it enough times or recently enough to feel practiced).

#12. Be aware of your strengths and limits.  

Use your strengths whenever you can, and let go of judgment about your limits.

#13. Ask for help, especially regarding your limits.

This may be hard to do, but try this, please.

#14.  If  you are stuck, choose something easier to try.

If you are having trouble getting things done, choose one task that seems the most do-able in the moment.

#15. Consider editing your list. 

Change priorities and even delete things that just aren’t that important to get done.  Consider making things simpler.

#16. Pad your list, to give yourself a sense of accomplishment.  

Put things on your list that you’ve already started. Add  routine tasks. This will give you  a sense of accomplishment when you cross them off..

#17. Notice your resistance, letting go of judgment.

If you’re resisting doing something, assume that — on some level — that resistance makes sense. See if you can figure that out.  Even if you can’t, try to let go of judgment about the resistance.

Also resistance may mean that you don’t yet have what you need (data, support, completing something else first) in order to continue with your task.

Wow!  That list included a LOT of what I know, about a lot of things.

I wonder if there’s anything I have left to tell you  for the rest of this year?

Hmmm. Maybe I should do a To Do List about writing future blog posts.

  1. Start a list of ideas for future blog posts.  (Pssst!  I’ve already done that!)
  2. Keep adding to that list.
  3. Remember that I don’t have to come up with completely new topics.  I can keep writing about similar topics, in different ways (hence role-modeling the importance of “practice, practice, practice”).
  4. Consider spending the rest of the year posting more scenes from that Star Trek episode with Gary Lockwood.

That’s a good enough list, for now.

Thanks for reading.

© 2013 Ann Koplow

(Note:  I just want to let my  regular readers know that my test results came back and I do NOT have endocarditis. Yay!)

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 63: Post-It Notes for helpful reminders (The Gallagher of Therapists)

It’s Monday, I’m anxious about a few things, and it would be helpful to post some helpful reminders to myself today.

I find Post-It Notes useful in such situations.

Post-It Notes are among several props I use in my work. (Other props have included (1) magic wands, (2) clickers to help people notice cognitive distortions, and (3) baskets that get passed around at groups, holding  slips of paper with questions or information.) As I said to my BF Michael last week,  “Perhaps I’m the Gallagher, or even the Carrot Top, of Therapists.” (Michael has some judgments about prop comedians, so he looked dubious.)

Here are some helpful reminders for me to post, today.

  1. Those tasks you’ve been procrastinating?  Let go of shame and take a first step.
  2. Set limits, by being clear about what you can and cannot do right now.
  3. It’s okay to sing out loud when you feel like it.

At this point, I would like to present some data I recently gathered in support of # 3, above.

I collect unusual (not expensive!) watches, so another position on my Personal Support Team is Watch Battery Replacement Expert. (For posts about other team members, see here and here.) Watch Battery Replacement Expert has been an empty position for a while, so this past weekend I scouted local sites for candidates. And I found this gentleman:

New Image

This is Doug Marcou, from Marcou Jewelers. I’m sure he’s going to be a fine Watch Replacement Specialist. What I also appreciated about my first encounter with Doug was that, while I was waiting, he was singing along to the tunes that were playing in his store, with some wonderful joie de vivre.

So, now, when I feel like singing, I can challenge self consciousness with that memory of Doug singing out — in fine voice and in fine fettle — replacing that watch battery in his store.

So, thanks to Doug, thanks to Gallagher and Carrot Top, and thanks to you, too, dear reader.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Day 47: A Noble Weekend Quest, To Fight SHOULDs

So this is the beginning of a long weekend. Monday is Presidents’ Day!

Yay!

(And what might this mean for you, dear reader?  Some long posts, perhaps?)

Where was I before that parenthesized warning?

Oh yes. I feel like I really need this long weekend, because the last few weekends have had much more stress than usual.

Now, stress isn’t always bad.  The way I’ve been defining Adventure in this blog is “something new,” and New-ness (and change in general) is inherently more stressful.  Don’t you think?

Here’s why I haven’t had a “normal” weekend for a while.  Last weekend, I was unexpectedly caught in South Carolina, due to the snowstorm. The weekend before was my 60th birthday party, which was great, but Packed With New-ness (and wonder). And several weekends before the Birthday Weekend, I was focusing on party-planning.

Phew!  So it’s nice to be sitting on my couch this Saturday morning with a sense of routine and with nothing of note looming on the horizon. (Except for taxes, which I’m SURE I will blog about sometime within the next couple of months.)

So nothing is looming right now.

I’m really liking that word “looming” as a description of how it feels when there’s something big I think I should be dealing with.

However, as I’ve written in this blog —  for example, waaaaaay back on Day 5 —  SHOULDs can come up at any times,  whether something big is looming or not. (BTW, you can find definitions of SHOULDs and the other 12 Cognitive Distortions, here).

Therefore, chances are that SHOULDs will come up for me, over this  long weekend. Hmmmm.  What might I do about that?

A-ha!

Cue trumpets, for an important announcement!!!

(Okay, now imagine the inspiring, heroic sound of a trumpet flourish.)

(Wait. Hold on. I wonder if there is a way to imbed a sound bite in a blog?) (Not that I’ve ever imbedded a sound into anything, yet.) (It’s another adventure!)

(Research, research, research…..)

All right. I think I’m ready for  … Cue trumpets, TAKE 2!

https://annkoplow.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/78825__primordiality__fanfare-4.wav

Not sure if that worked, but — whether you’re hearing trumpets in your mind or actually hearing them in this post — here’s my announcement:

Friends, Readers, and Fellow Bloggers, lend me your ears. This weekend,  I come to bury  SHOULDs, not to praise them.

Or, to put this in another olde-fashioned, more heroic-type way:

I hereby declare myself a SHOULD Warrior. This weekend,  I shalt venture forth and battle against Shoulds!!

Okay, now I have to arm myself for this quest. Here are four pieces of weaponry I can take with me:

 #1:  I shalt notice SHOULDs and name them as such.

For example, I am now naming a SHOULD statement that has already come up for me today:

I SHOULD send thank you notes for the gifts some people brought to the party.

#2: I shalt restate — or reframe — the SHOULD statement, in a helpful way.

For example,   “I COULD write thank you notes.  Instead, I CHOOSE TO ______ .”  (Thanks to my friend Debbie T., who offered that great suggestion, in a comment she posted here. )

I’m realizing that I  could fill in that blank (despite the word “Instead”) with the same action — writing the thank you notes.  With this reframe, though, I am  making a choice to write them, rather than adding to my stress with a SHOULD-ed obligation.

And that, my reader, makes all the difference.

# 3:  I shalt think about the benefit to me if I do choose to take the action.  

For example, if I do choose to spend time this weekend to figure out who left me gifts during the party  and sending thank you notes, I’ll get a sense of closure about the party. Which I would enjoy.

# 4: I shalt let go of judgment (and regret or guilt) about the past actions which have contributed to this current situation.

I have definitely, already, been judging myself and feeling some regret and guilt about the party gifts. I have judged myself for not being  “together” enough the night of the party to keep track of those gifts as people brought them. And I’ve also judged myself for Procrastinating  about this since (see more about the dread P-word, here).

Right now, as I’m writing this to you, I feel like I need to make excuses.  (For example, I wasn’t expecting people to bring gifts; I hadn’t planned to open gifts during the party, so I didn’t;  I didn’t have a place to put them, so they got scattered;  when I looked at them right after the party, some of the cards got separated from the gifts, yadda yadda yadda)

I’m going to let go of all that, right now.

And I’m noticing that  I was definitely using some other SHOULD statements there (I SHOULD have been more aware of the gifts, I SHOULDN’T have gone away on my trip without figuring this out before I left, etc. etc.)

Oh, and here’s two more Cognitive Distortions I’m noticing in my thoughts about these thank-you notes:  Mind Reading and Fortune Telling.  That is, I’m worrying about my guests’ present AND future thoughts about my lack of responses about the gifts.

For example:

People are going to think I’m so lame because I haven’t sent thank you notes. And  boy! They will  REALLY think I’m lame if I send a thank-you note that says something  like, “Errr, ummmm, , I don’t know what you gave me!”

This is what I’m thinking right now: How amazing is that? Look at what I’m doing!  I’m projecting judgment onto wonderful and devoted friends of mine, who came to my birthday party to joyfully celebrate with me.  Do I REALLY BELIEVE that these people are going to judge me like that?  And if they do have a thought like that, won’t it pass?  Won’t it just be one of a kashmillion thoughts they might have about me?

And now I’m realizing my worst fear, behind those thoughts.

My losing track of the gifts, and not writing thank you notes,  might really damage these relationships.

Arrrrghh.  Sometimes,  I am just AMAZED,  when I take a step back and look at a worst fear, like that.

Yes, it’s incredible to me — the primal, irrational fears that can lurk behind  my Mind Reading, Fortune Telling, Shoulds, and other judgmental thoughts.

Well, what can I say? This is an on-going quest for me:  letting go of SHOULDs, Mind Reading, and other unhelpful, judgmental thoughts.

It’s a difficult quest, and a noble one, indeed.

I feel like I rode some distance forward on this quest today, dear reader. Thanks for riding along beside me.

Ta-da!!!!

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Day 25: I’m having trouble writing a post today.

Well, I guess it was inevitable.

I started a post this morning, all gung-ho, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6:30 AM.  The title of the post was “The Rules of Self-Disclosure.”  It was something I wanted to write about this morning because I took a risk yesterday at the end of a big presentation at the hospital yesterday where I work. I was really excited and enthusiastic about that presentation — which was about an upcoming, in-process change at the hospital, where patients will be able to read all the notes doctors write about them. Afterwards, I really wanted to  talk to the presenters, to express my enthusiasm and support for the new process and volunteer to be involved, but I felt too shy, and left the meeting. However, after I left, I almost immediately turned around and came back. And when I came back, my manager was talking to the presenters.  He introduced me, and I spoke my piece. In the process of expressing my enthusiasm, I did some self-disclosure — I told them that I had been a patient all my life, and that I was incredibly moved by how respectful I thought this change was.

I think that whole interaction went fine, and my manager, afterwards, told me how glad he was that I had come back to talk to the presenters.  And I was glad, too. But i noticed that I felt some anxiety the rest of the day, wondering whether I had said too much.

Anyway, I started writing about this topic this morning, but in a very different way. I started out by defining the use of the term “self-disclosure” and what that meant in therapy — how therapists decide what to reveal and what not to reveal about themselves when working with clients.  Soon, it was time for me to leave for work, and I hadn’t gotten to the piece I really wanted to say yet.  Then, I had a long tiring day at work, and when I came home, I looked at what I had written, wasn’t sure what to do with it, and then went out to dinner.  Then, when I got home from dinner, I looked at it again.

And I really didn’t like it.  And I felt too tired to rewrite it.

So then, I figured I would forget this post, “steal” some stuff from what I’d written for my book, and post that.  But when I looked at the chapters for my book, I didn’t like anything there, either.

Now, this is something that seems to happen to me.  I write something, feel okay about it, read it later, and …. I think it sucks.

It’s like some sort of switch gets pulled and if I read ANYTHING I’ve written before,  I don’t like it.

So that was happening tonight.  Great.  So the time was going by, and I had no post.  And then I started to feel the pressure of the deadline.  And then I started thinking that I might not be able to post something today.

And that made me realize that I DO want to post every day.  I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep this up, but I’d like to.

So I figured I would write about what was going on in the moment.  And, in the process, I quickly told that part of the story from yesterday that I really wanted to tell about self-disclosure.

So now …. here’s where the rubber meets the road.  I’ve typed this post really quickly, trying to ignore and let go of my very active Inner Critic.

But NOW I’ve got to re-read this before I post it — at least for typos, for heaven’s sake.  And what if that critical switch is still in effect?  If it is, I’m gonna dislike this, too. Probably intensely.  And if  that happens, what’s going to win out?  My wish to rewrite, my tiredness from work, or my wish to post every day?  Because here are my choices, people: (1) I can post something I dislike, (2) rewrite it until it’s good enough (although if The Critic is in full force, that’s going to be really tough), or (3) post nothing at all.

Okay, I’m going to go back and re-read.

Okay, I did.

And I’ve made my decision.

Thanks for reading, as always.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 7: The P-word

Okay, so on Day 3 of this blog, I wrote about “Feeling Too Good”, and I ended that post with a preview of coming attractions. I promised: Stay Tuned For More About This Tomorrow!

And then I wrote about something else the next day. However,  this wasn’t a clean break of pure avoidance. Oh, no.  Day 4’s writing included my writing about the fact that I wasn’t writing about what I had said I was going to write about. (Yes, these things can get convoluted.)

Since then,  I’ve continued following my muses-in-the-moment here. That is, I’ve written in this blog each day about something that has seemed more important and present. However, this avoidance of my previous promise has not been free and blissful, either.  My awareness of not having written that follow-up  piece has crept into most of the entries I’ve written since.

So this is making me think about the P-word.

PROCRASTINATION.

Procrastination is definitely a judgmental word, isn’t it?  Is it a useful one?

I know it’s an old one for me. Family members would sometimes describe me as a procrastinator. I wonder why? Maybe it’s because I’d wait until the last minute to do some things  (usually things I didn’t want to do).

And I’m still guilty of that, plenty of times.

However, if I AM going to wait until the last minute to do something, I wish to heaven I could block that procrastinated task totally out of my mind. But that’s not how it works for me. Usually, I’m exquisitely and uncomfortably aware of what I’m avoiding.  Geesh.  There’s got to be a way for procrastination to be more fun.

As I’ve gotten older, I have become more forgiving about my procrastinating tendencies.  I’ve also realized that procrastination for me often has to do with insecurity.  For example, I almost always wait until the last minute to do something that I think I might conceivably suck at doing — or, at least,  where I might fall short of my own expectations and wishes.

One thing I’ve historically procrastinated about is …….. writing.

I was an English major in college, and I hated writing assignments, because I knew what the process was going to be.  No matter what my intentions or attempts were to change my pattern, I WOULD wait until the last minute.  I would consider writing something ahead of time, start it, find it too hard, and get discouraged. I would find my paltry beginning attempts to write any paper too awkward, too trite, too obvious, and always too distant from what I wanted to express.  And I would stop.  Put it off. Until the last minute.

And then, I would have no choice. I would pull an all-nighter, struggling just to put coherent sentences together.  It was a miserable experience.  It was like psychological blackmail.  But that was the only way I could bring myself to write anything then. I had to back myself into a corner where I had no time, no wiggle room to judge.  It was like dulling the pain of insecurity with the drug of necessity.  Write it, even if it blows, because TIME IS UP!

As I got older, I stopped pulling all-nighters, but I still struggled with that almost unavoidable judgment of my writing, which made procrastination irresistible. Even though I’ve always liked a lot about writing and even sometimes believed I was pretty good at it,  when it came time for the rubber to hit the road — for the words to hit the writing surface — judgment and self-criticism would prevail.  And procrastinate I would, again.

So here’s another example where judgment hasn’t served me well.

And I find as I try to let go of judgment, I tend to procrastinate less. As I’ve striven towards a non-judgmental stance,  I’ve even reduced  my use of the word Procrastination.  Instead,  I seem to be using a different P-word instead.

Process.

I’ve tried to have faith in my own process.

And if I do seem to be avoiding something, it can actually help to tell myself this:

You have all the time you need.

Instead of telling myself I have to hurry up, that I better stop procrastinating, I tell myself the above phrase, instead.  And, somehow, that helps me move ahead.

That’s quite a concept, isn’t it, dear reader?

And you know what?  I’m not procrastinating writing for this blog.  I’m writing it at all times of the day.  I’m not waiting until the last minute. And I’m enjoying the Process.  As a matter of fact, I wrote this post THE DAY BEFORE IT WAS DUE!

Wow.

Here’s another P-word:

Phew!

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.