I have a million and one things to do. So, I make lists. I do the easy stuff and cross them off the list. I can see progress this way. That means I’m successful, doesn’t it?
No, it doesn’t!
It means that I’m still not doing the other things on the list that I haven’t crossed off.
And, why aren’t I doing them? Because they’re hard. Or time-consuming. Or just simply boring. But also it’s because I’m lazy (sometimes!).
So I just keep adding small, easy to attain tasks to my list and continue to cross them off after I do them, while leaving the other more cumbersome and unpleasant tasks for another day (or another month!).
Procrastination is one of my star qualities. I say ‘star’ not because it’s a good thing, but because it’s an outstanding and dominant feature of my personality.
I can have a task on my ‘to do’ list for several weeks. Or even longer. I then start to become annoyed with this task. ‘Why won’t it go away?’, I ask myself.
I continue to add to the list, ignoring the annoying ones that never seem to get done. It’s almost as if I expect them to do themselves. Or that someone will come and do them for me. Like in the story ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’.
Maybe that story is to blame for my procrastination ‘habit’. It was one of my favourites when I was little.
Imagine waking up in the morning and all your work is done! Your ‘to do’ list is all crossed off and you can start fresh all over again.
It wouldn’t matter to me who it was that did them. I wouldn’t mind little elves coming into my flat and working away all night at the annoying tasks on my list. I would be forever grateful to anyone who would want to come and back up my computer, or clean the windows, or even just do some research for a future project I’m thinking about taking on.
I would be very happy indeed if someone would come and do these things for me. And if they don’t, then I guess procrastination is going to remain a feature of this task.
Of course, I get a tremendous buzz when I’ve completed something annoying from my ‘to do’ list. You would think that such a buzz, this great feeling of accomplishment, would be enough to inspire me to get down to it and do it. We all love the feeling of success, no matter on what scale.
But no, not for me. I know I’ll feel great when I cross ‘dye my black clothes’ off my ‘to do’ list. It’s been on the list for about 2 months now. Maybe longer. And it hasn’t budged.
The dye is in the kitchen cupboard under the sink. The clothes are in the wardrobe. The washing machine is in the bathroom. I even have the 500g of salt required for the process.
But, procrastination is happening on this one, and it’s still sitting on my list, waiting to be crossed off like all the other, easier, items. I could have done it last weekend. I don’t know why I didn’t. Procrastination maybe?
Something a bit more serious now, although still about procrastination.
I even procrastinate about getting timely healthcare for myself. I tell myself it’s not serious. Or it will ‘go away’ (whatever the symptom is).
I’m not a big fan of going to the doctors, never have been really. Of course, I’ve spent a lot of time in doctors’ waiting rooms over the years, especially when my daughter was small, as most parents do. We’re expected to take our kids to the doctor’s. I’ve spent more time in doctors’ waiting rooms than with actual doctors – but haven’t we all.
Maybe that’s why I procrastinate about it now. I don’t want to spend any more time waiting to see a doctor. Maybe I can fix the problem myself.
Or I tell myself I’ll go next week. I even make room in my schedule and I tell myself that’s when I’ll go to see the doctor.
But I don’t.
Eventually I either learn to live with this new affliction, or my body does what it’s designed to do and heals itself (amazing what can be achieved with a little bit of procrastination!). Or, I suffer until I can stand it no more and hunt down a medical professional who I think will give me some relief.
Then I cross it off my list, with a great deal of satisfaction.
I always have a list on my desk (yes, on paper, I’m an old-fashioned woman). It’s a running list of things I need to do. I don’t know if it’s because I’m forgetful, although that’s coming into play more and more as I get older.
I write things I need to do so I don’t forget to do them. And then I cross them off when they’re done.
Sometimes I cheat, and write something really easy on my list, just so I can do it and cross it off. Something like ‘send info to students’. It’s easy because it’s just an email to students with the page numbers they’ll need for the next lesson. And I do it every week. It really doesn’t need to go on any ‘to do’ list. But it does, because it feels so good when I do it and cross it off the list.
It’s instant satisfaction.
But, the ‘hard’ or ‘annoying’ tasks get left on the list, and soon, they’re the only things left on the list. All the other, more pleasant, or easier, tasks have been crossed off.
So, I start another list. I transfer all the remaining tasks to a clean sheet of paper and start ignoring them afresh.
Procrastination is a huge part of my life, I practise it daily. Some people think I’m stubborn, because I seem to refuse to do something, and then only do it when I decide to.
I may be stubborn, but I don’t think it’s about that. It’s about procrastination. It’s part of my personality.
Are you one of life’s great procrastinators? What are you putting off right now? What are some of your tactics to put off things you should be doing. Tell us all about it in the comments section below!