My Procrastination Habit

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.

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9 thoughts on “My Procrastination Habit

  1. Sing it, sister. I know exactly how you feel. Only, I tend to lose entire blocks of time.

    Yesterday, I put on a movie that I borrowed from my neighbor MONTHS ago. I decided to watch it while I (finally) took down the Christmas tree, did dishes, folded laundry and vacuumed. I figured I’d get all that done with time to sit and watch the rest of the movie relaxed on the couch.

    Instead, I was still cleaning when the credits rolled.

    That is my life these days.

    Being a grown up sucks.

  2. there are SO many reasons why I am certain we are kindred spirits. This is me…so me. I beat myself up over these sorts of things all the time, but I think you’re right. The list gets so big that it’s so easy to just shut it all down.
    good post….so, so good!

  3. WORK HARD AND PLAY HARDER! no need to think about work when it’s time to play…and vice versa. it has taken me a lot of years to get to this place (and sometimes have to give myself a timeout occasionally!). you’ll get the hang of it…and the practicing will be good for your soul. love you, amy…and cheering you on!

    • yes ma’am! i will get right on it…it’s becoming evident to me that i have to learn SOMETHING. because this isn’t working anymore. 😉

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