I woke up this morning and realized that my nemesis is back. It’s procrastination, and I struggle with it occasionally, usually when there’s a lot to do and I’m worried about getting it all done. I start to feel nervous about how it will happen, then I put things off, especially if I don’t want to do them, because I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t want to do something, coming up against the deadline is really the only way to get me moving. (Also, I work well under pressure, and procrastination effectively creates that pressure.) Today I have a long list of things I have to do. They’re really important things too, and so far all I have managed to successfully do is drink a vat of coffee and write 1500 words for a new book, and although writing is all very well and good, my schedule only called for 700 words today, and I didn’t stop myself and go do the things that also need doing, like riding my bike 40k and packing for Squam.
Now I have an afternoon meeting looming, and I’m pretending that I’ll do that bike ride when I get back, which I totally won’t because it will be too late and probably raining, and I know it’s calling for rain later and the answer is totally to GET UP NOW AND GO DO IT, but I’ve managed to convince myself that the most important thing I can do is write a blog post, and that it would be irresponsible to go ride at this time. (I’m really pretty good at this once I get going.)
Also I fell off my bike again this weekend, and although I really, really believe that I’ve got the hang of it now and there will be no more falling, procrastination has a clever voice it uses, telling me that if I don’t ride, then I can’t fall. (It is very hard to argue with that voice. I can talk down the one that doesn’t want to ride because it is lazy, but I have a harder time with the voice that is really only saying reasonable things.)
I should pack for Squam, but that means organizing my teaching things for Squam, and doing laundry, and I really freaking hate the laundry, and there’s that voice again. That voice that says "You can do it tomorrow, why not knit instead?" I’ve knit about six rows on a shawl while I try to talk myself into not knitting on a shawl, and the whole time I know it’s not knitting time, it’s laundry and then riding time, and just now I realized that I can’t possibly go for a ride because there isn’t time before I have to go to the afternoon meeting, WHICH THERE IS, but don’t tell the voice of procrastination that, because it’s trying to tell me that I have to do laundry and pack and then go for a ride and that will never work, which is true, but I could ride and then go to the meeting and then pack and do the laundry… but the voice of procrastination is an all or nothing beast, and if it can’t have perfection and completion, it doesn’t want anything.
It’s just one of those days. Once of those days where the voice of procrastination wants to screw tomorrow up, and I’ve tried telling it that it isn’t going to be what it thinks. That doing 10 hours of work in 7 hours isn’t fun, or an accomplishment, it’s just going to be a bad, bad day, but procrastination doesn’t give a crap about that. Procrastination thinks winning is getting me to pour another cup of coffee, and so far, it’s winning. It’s a willpower game, and I am losing, and I know it. I’ll get it all done, I know I will, but I’ll never understand why every once in a while, I like to make it so hard for myself. Most of the time I get up and kick arse and take names and get it all done, but today… I know this is a bad plan. I can feel it’s a bad plan, and yet, here I sit.
You’ve got to wonder what triggers procrastination, and why it’s so powerful. Do you procrastinate? Why? What sets you off? How do you end it?
(PS. The astute among you will notice straight off what it took me 20 minutes to clue in to. I am now procrastinating by talking about procrastinating and trying to engage in a conversation about procrastination. I hate myself.)