Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Procrastination Potpourri

Yesterday was a particularly frustrating day for this blogger.  Attentive readers may have noticed that my post did not get published until after 4 p.m.  First, there was an early meeting.  Since it's summer, and my new schedule for one of my part-time jobs gave me the afternoon off, I thought I'd give myself a break and refrain from setting my alarm for the wee hours in order to post before leaving the house, as I have been doing the last few months.  So far, so good.

When I returned from the meeting, some phone call jinx had me jumping up every couple of minutes to take care of a new crisis or greeting.  I was still pacing myself, so I didn't get too concerned.  I read, I lunched, I answered my phones some more.  I responded to emails.

The post itself took a bit longer to write than usual.  But finally, at around 2:00, I hit the "Publish" button, and. . . the dratted thing disappeared.  Vanished in cyberspace.  Without a trace!

Back to the drawing board, er, laptop.  But by this time, my eldest son had staked out the room I normally write in, and was taking in an especially annoying and distracting TV program on gaming.  (It's not enough that I've lost my young men to the world of games, but now there are programs devoted to deepening their addiction!)

So I left the house, planning to take care of my every Tuesday coffee-buying errand and improve my ambient conditions by sitting at the coffee house to recover what I could of what I had written.  No such luck, of course, it being that kind of day.  Every inside seat was taken.  I quelled my irritation and headed outside, where it was sprinkling lightly, to sit at a damp table and perform the rnecessary miracle of resurrecting my post.  But. . . the free wi-fi connection was sooooo sloowwww that I gave up after failing to connect for 15 minutes.

Back home, and now to my basement study.  Where at least my words did not desert me.  I managed to compose a reasonable facsimile of my earlier piece, and was preparing to hit the "Publish" button once again, when water began coursing in the room's egress window.  Legacy of procrastinated gutter-cleaning, and the downpour that had been threatening all day.  (Why can my household never remember how frequently our trees and our weather require us to take care of that loathsome chore?)  After screaming (and using a few more of the words I had yelled earlier when my original labored-over post had gone missing), I marshaled the two young men who live with me, and a visiting friend, to man the dikes.  But not before I got the post up.

An hour later, after our combined efforts at gutter clearing in the rain, and actual bailing of window wells with a makeshift milk-carton bucket on a long-enough strap, we were no longer taking on water.  But it was time to give up on the scheduled swim training I no longer had time for.  I crawled off to my meditation group and to watch my NBA team lose, and go to bed.  

All that to say that my plan for today's post is to take it easy.  I have excerpted below a few bits of procrastination advice I've collected from around the web.  Maybe there's something here that will help us all to remember the gutters!  I wish us all a better day.

Procrastination Potpourri
From the FlyLady

Each and every Wednesday is Anti-Procrastination Day for FlyLady. This is a day that we take care of things we've been putting off. You can use this day to take care of any procrastinating you've done. You can do things like:

  • Make doctors appointments
  • Finish that report for work
  • Work on a project with your child
  • Clean the fish tank

You can do whatever you need to take care. This is the day to stop putting things off.

"Procrastination is the death of us, our relationships, and our peace!" ~ FlyLady

And this (to me kind of scary) idea from blogger Selene M. Bowlby who seems to have given the FlyLady's day her own twist.

There is also a variation on this… The Anti-Procrastination Day Game. This is where you get a bunch of little cards or pieces of paper and write down one item that you’ve been putting off on each one. Then store these together (in a little box, a bag, an envelope, wherever). When Anti-Procrastination Day rolls around – every Wednesday – you reach in, randomly pick out a piece of paper and do whatever you had written down. At the very least (if it is a big project) just get started on it.

From The Happiness Project

6 Tips For Tackling a Dreaded Task:
1.  Do it first thing in the morning.
2.  If you find yourself putting off a task that you try to do several times a week, try doing it EVERY day, instead. 
3.  Have someone keep you company.
4.  Make preparations, assemble the proper tools.
5.  Commit.
6.  Remind yourself that finishing a dreaded task is tremendously energizing.

from the September, 2008 issue of Oprah's O  Magazine, Strategies to Beat Procrastination, by Tim Jarvis:

1. Pull a Ulysses

"The hero of The Odyssey realized that, left to his own devices, he would succumb to the seduction of the Sirens' song, so he had himself tied to the mast of his ship, limiting his ability to behave badly later," says Ariely. Try to outsmart the temptation of your short-term desires. Don't go grocery shopping when you're hungry, and ask the waiter not to even show you the dessert menu.

2. Borrow from your own success.
If you're good at handling job demands, translate the same tactics to the areas where you procrastinate. "Work seems more urgent because others are depending on you and there are deadlines to meet," Ariely says. "That's what helps make it a priority." Invest in a trainer to give your workouts more structure, or arrange to walk regularly with a friend, whom you'll let down if you don't show up.

3. Get in your own face.
Celebrity trainer Jim Karas adds that constant reminders of your mission will help keep you from deferring it. Find a photo of yourself when you last felt happy and confident about your appearance, and make it your screen saver. Put mirrors all over your house and look at yourself constantly, he suggests. "People go around wearing blinders. They don't want to see reality. The more you look at yourself, the more you will want to make a difference—now."

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