I meant to get this blog written yesterday. Well, okay, I meant to have it done on Monday, but that obviously didn’t happen. I also meant to get a bunch of pages edited on my WIP (work in progress) this week so I can finally, finally ship it off to an editor. But, um, that hasn’t happened yet, either. I have a bedroom I’ve been meaning to paint. A garage I’ve been meaning to purge. Photos I’ve been meaning to organize since, well…my kids were in grade school. Somehow, these things get transferred from one week’s to-do list to the next.
But others get lined up and checked off, pretty as you please. I have yet to miss a meal because I never got around to cooking. (Although that probably wouldn’t hurt once in a while.) I get myself to work when I’m scheduled. Laundry gets done, the house gets cleaned on a semi-regular basis, and the bills get paid. Blogging, writing, editing, all things I love, get done…eventually.
So what’s the difference between one thing and the next? Why do some tasks get checked off, while others will probably still be on my to-do list the day I die?
I’ve given this some thought lately—when I should have been doing other things, naturally—and here’s what I’ve come up with.
Connie’s Top Three Reasons to Procrastinate:
1. The task is too overwhelming.
Whisper the words “photo organization” to me and I want to run and hide under the bed. The very idea is overwhelming, mainly because the task is waaay too big. I need a strategy to chop it into smaller, manageable chunks. If it seems doable, I’ll do it.
2. There’s no clear-cut measurement.
When I’m, say, editing, how do I know I’m “done”? Even if I set a page count, are the pages any good? Do I have to do it again? The not knowing makes me not want to do it at all. I need a way to measure progress.
3. I don’t want to do this.
Sometimes, frankly, I have no earthly desire to complete [fill in the blank], but my [family, friends, boss, mother] thinks I should. Ah, the dreaded “shoulds.” Don’t you hate them? I’m trying to move these out of my life permanently.
There you have it. My top three reasons for putting things off. So, what’s on your list? Better yet, what do you do when procrastination strikes? How do you fight back?
He Connie! I have to admit my biggest one is number 3: I simply don’t WANT to do this. And I have what I call “spoiled brat syndrome”–I flat out refuse to do anything I don’t want to do. lol So I tend to put off things like folding laundry and exercising.
But I do find that if it really needs to get done, then that tends to motivate me. Like you said, bills have to get paid and if I don’t cook, my children will find crap to eat and laundry, well, I hate it, but my family likes clean clothes. *sigh* hehe
Hi Joanne–I keep hoping the housework fairies will show up to do all the stuff I don’t want to, but, alas, that hasn’t happened yet. Though I keep hoping. I’ll let you know if they show up–and send them your way!
I put off big tasks thinking they’ll take too much time instead of just focusing on them. When I focus, they take half the time I thought they would. And you’d think I’d learn by now, but nope, I keep putting things off.
I hate cleaning. So I’ll lay in bed in the monring and think about all I need to get done and if I just do one room at a time and focus, I’ll get it done. But once I’m up and at it-I’ve already cleaned in my head, so it seems like twice as much work. So I put it off. LOL
Hi Stacey–You too?? I heard once that sometimes we’ll keep putting something off until the effort of NOT doing it is greater than the effort to just git r done. Then we dive in. I really like your idea of visualizing and focus! Thanks!
Great post. I find I work best if I have a dead line. An open datebook means, when I get around to it. NOT GOOD.
You are so right! Open-ended for me usually means, “never.” But deadlines, even a kitchen timer, can work wonders! Thanks so much!
I go through this every day, Connie! I tend to household tasks and do my workout in the morning, so I can have the afternoons to write. And even though I always have an ongoing project–right now I’m writing the first draft of a novella–I always find something that has to be done before I can sit down and write those words. My goal is 1000 words per day.
It’s an ongoing struggle, I guess. LOL.
Susan–1,000 words a day is a great goal! Good for you. I admire anyone who can write later in the day. For me, if I don’t write first thing, it just doesn’t seem to get done! Sigh…
Number 3 is my biggest reason too. Why do something I don’t want to do when I can do something more enjoyable. Problem is the unwanted task does not just go away.
All three children had homework this week and
instead of doing it right away, I waited and felt the dread and doom all week.
Just finished homework, and it was no big deal.
Why do I do this myself over and over?
Marion–I hate that “dread and doom” feeling, too!! It grows and grows and sucks the life out of your week! And as you said, so often, the actual task is not that big a deal. I wish I knew why we use this avoidance behavior–but if I figure it out, I’ll surely let you know!
I think my biggest reason for procrastinating is that I don’t want to do it!
Except for writing that I procrastinate for a number of dumb reasons that I don’t remember at the moment. Hmmmmm.
How to get motivated…
I hear you, Mary! There seems to be a lot of that in our lives, isn’t there? Wish we could get rid of the I-don’t-want-tos! Maybe we need to talk about motivation next??