Getting past procrastination

Procrastination is my worst enemy. This is to say that I am my own worst enemy. The thing is – and I know in advance this is coming from the part of my brain that rationalizes my procrastination – I am not lazy. I still feed and clothe myself and my son. I still keep our habitat clean and do at least a half decent job of teaching him some survival/life skills (like pooping in a potty…though it is a work in progress). It is not as though my procrastination began with domestic life, but at least now my means of procrastinating are more noble than binge watching Law and Order.
I now procrastinate my researchy things with family things. I know for many people caring for your child is a full enough job without worrying over “other projects” as my husband sometimes calls my research. Over the last few weeks I have been prepping for an across country move, trying to rent or sell our house, and oh, well… there was a beach vacation thrown in there. In my defense, it had been planned months ago. Actually, I should take a beat and say that I had somewhat conquered procrastination over the last couple of years. It must have been the crushing weight of a heaping plate of finishing my dissertation while caring for an infant mixed with the fear of failing and embarrassing myself. Those were great motivators! Graduating, i.e. not failing miserably, has proven to have to opposite effect on motivation. It has led to the reappearance of an old enemy – procrastination. Since I packed up my desk and stopped going into the office regularly it has been easy, too easy, to let my personal life become my whole life.

To be clear, while I was working full time I thought of my family and home as my “personal life’ and work time as my ‘work life.’ I am not sure why I compartmentalized my life the way some people separate their recyclables. In fact, now it seems odd because I have just one big mixed up jumbled bin of ‘life.’ I realize that this metaphor reads that I am comparing my life to trash, which it is not. I am blessed. I am the lucky few. These transitions from working graduate student to working mother to unemployed mother have been tough but they forced a lot of introspection and fostered a ton of great conversations with others going through the same. I would not change a thing.

The point is that for me, because there is just one big mixed up bag of joys and responsibilities, I find, to prioritize and accomplish anything The part of my brain that procrastinates tells me that I have at once too much to do and too little. Either extreme can be paralytic and I know it is time to find a balance so that I can push forward.

Finding time to work on a project, especially one that requires
a child-free environment, can be difficult, but it is not impossible. There is time to be found, but it requires a mental commitment of setting aside that time. Now that all of my time is unstructured, I have to make the choice to find and use child-free time to work. I do want to, but then the obligations/distractions come knocking. The tricksy evil of procrastination is that you spend more time and energy avoiding the ‘thing’ than it would take to do the ‘thing.’ And then there is the angst – oh! The Angst! It detracts from my enjoyment of my joyfully ordinary life. I exaggerate – it is not that dramatic, but it is an ever present lingering thing. I know i will be quite happy to get the ‘thing’ done. Until then I will continue to enjoy each day – even if the ‘thing’ isn’t yet done – but it will be…tomorrow. đŸ˜‰

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4 thoughts on “Getting past procrastination

  1. Committing to a strategy of systematic prioritizing is the best weapon against procrastination. After all, accepting responsibility for your choices restores your confidence that you control your destiny. No T-Do list should last longer than 24 hours. Each item must earn a place on your daily top ten list. And in the competition for Number One, they must agree to bend to your will- and whim.

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    • thanks for your comment! I agree
      that prioritizing can help move things along. I like the idea of a top ten list – assign one task to each finger to help your remember! I just cannot think of a day in recent memory when I finished 10 things!

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  2. It’s so hard when all of your time is unstructured. You have to rise to a whole other level of discipline. And let me tell you, it’s easy to get used to unstructured time. But the good thing is, children need routine but they also need spontaneity and low stress. So it’s a good thing to relax and enjoy them and watch them learn new things and not always worry about how much you’re getting done. But then there’s also all those things to get done… I’ve been trying to get up early and work on things before Soraya wakes up but babies are so unpredictable. She was sleeping well and then last week she started waking up a lot at night and waking really early in the morning. So, I can’t say that’s been going super well. But, I have a plan and I’m going to keep trying, be patient, and learn from it!

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  3. This speaks to exactly how I have been feeling lately. I am looking ahead to this spring when I will transition from working mom to home-mom. And your metaphor about jumbled up bin of life works perfectly – it is not comparing it to trash, but losing the separate compartments. I worry that I will lose all projects of my own, not out of resentment for caring for my babes, but because I am afraid of my own passivity in the face of open, undefined time. I agree with the other commenters: one who suggests building in new routines and timetables, and the other who suggests giving up on trying to be too structured; just enjoy spontaneity and the flow of young life. That is the conundrum – how to balance both.
    I am (very gratefully) dissolving boundaries which have defined my time and my tasks, and it feels like a great unknown.

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