My Procrastination Habit

by Amy

For as long I can remember, I have believed that I never finish anything.

I start. Oh, boy, do I start. I have piles of fabric, yarn, craft supplies, and half-crocheted afghans to prove that I do. Ingredients for certain  challenging recipes gather dust in my pantry. I have so many journals that are mostly blank that I could probably fill an entire Rubbermaid tote with them.

My blog sits, ready and waiting, for posts.

I used to think that I was just flat-out lazy. Or maybe that my brain just moves faster than my motivation can follow through. Or that I just have some freakish inability to finish anything. Anything at all.

The truth is, I do have many interests, and my brain does compile them quite quickly. When I am driving to work, sometimes I think about all of the classes I would like to take. Voice lessons. Guitar lessons. Pottery, dance, bookmaking. Web design, Photoshop, Excel. Let’s not forget that somewhere in here, I sincerely want to go back to grad school.

But, usually, I just sigh and say to myself, “you can’t even keep the junk mail from piling up on the dining room table.” This is code for “you are lazy and un-dedicated to even a small goal that means a great deal to your day-to-day sanity.”

Lately, I have been struggling with my diet, which is not something I have had to deal with since before July. A few other things are going on in my work, health, and family realms, and everything combined makes me feel frazzled, frustrated, and out of control.

I finally reached out to my best friend through an e-mail and gave her an overview of what was eating at me. Out of the entire long and wonderful e-mail that she typed up and sent back, one small sentence stuck out. It has been flashing in red neon in the front of my brain for three days:

“Give yourself some grace.”

Grace. You know? Filed near peace and hope. I do not give myself anything. I do not allow myself time to do the things I love. And I realized, with that small sentence, what is at the root of my procrastination habit:

The feeling that I have so many things on my NEED TO DO list that I don’t deserve to spend time on the things I enjoy. I need to work on my list. I need to clean and organize and file.

But I don’t. I procrastinate.

I spend time playing games on Facebook, reading blogs, watching football (watching football! seriously!), and my NEED TO DO list doesn’t get done. Neither does the list of things I want to do. And I think, somehow, grace is involved.

Maybe, If I am willing to give myself time to do the things that feel like play and the things that enrich me (crafts and writing, to start!), I will have more energy to do the things I NEED TO DO. This is completely counter-intuitive to the way I am hard-wired. I was taught to work first. Then, if there is time, play – but you could probably be doing more work, you know.

I am not alone. Many people operate like this. I think that is why many people come home and zone out for hours in front of the T.V. – the list of NEED to and SHOULD do and OVERDUE is completely overwhelming. So they check out. They procrastinate. I procrastinate. Rather than treating myself with a measure of grace and allowing the piles and the spreadsheets (yes, there are spreadsheets) to wait an hour, or a week? I get overwhelmed and procrastinate.

This is a sneaky and underhanded way to deal with myself. I don’t like that. I don’t like when people I am friends with or people that I work with make it seem like I am getting something by doing them a favor. Or manipulate me into doing something because they don’t know how to do it themselves. So why, why, why would I treat myself this way?

I don’t know. But I want to stop it. I want a life that I enjoy and a life that enriches me. I can’t live a life that sucks my soul and leaves me the scraps to try to cobble together something that looks moderately pleasing but is still completely lacking.

So, step one: get back to this blog that I love. Here I am. giving myself the grace and time to sit down and write out my thoughts that have been brewing for three days. I’ll let you know how it goes.