Tuesday Toss-Up

When I Have More Time and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

Procrastination. One of my biggest weaknesses. The sweet siren song of “later…I’ll do it…later” calls to me across the great expanse of my to-do list. Does it call to you too?

Here is a piece I wrote for the delightful Pam Hawley one Life List Club Friday. If you’ve ever been seduced by the demon Procrastination or if you know someone who has…or if you’re one of those organized types and just want to point and laugh at us procrastinators, keep reading…

*originally posted at Pam Hawley’s blog on 10/7/11*

When I Have More Time and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

How many times have you said the following things to yourself?

“I’ll start that diet…tomorrow.”

“I’ll take one of those writing classes after the holiday hubbub settles down.”

 “I’ll try that Twitter thing when I’m not so busy at work.”

“I’ll lay my plans for world domination when the kids get a little older and don’t need me so much.”

“I’ll start/finish writing my novel when I have more time.”

If you’re like me, the count is somewhere around…well, you figured you’d count it up later and then forgot.

I know, I know. You have 542,367,895,129 to do in a day.

Like Spinning Plates

Adding one more thing, especially if it’s not for your day job or your home or your family, feels like it might just bring everything crashing down.

Plates

So we tell ourselves we’ll do it when we have just a little more time. But that’s a big fat LIE. Say it with me, “Liar liar pants on fire.” Because there will never be a little more time. And, if there is just a smidge more time, something else will come along and fill it up.

You know it’s true.

And day after day sneaks past us like ninja kittens until we are left looking back at a long span of years, scratching our heads and wondering how all that time went by without us pursuing our passions. Ahhhhhhh

Believe me, I know how it goes. I’m Queen of Later.

Bow down before me, all you procrastinators, or feel my wrath. Mwahahahaha. Um, what? Oh…really? Ok. Sorry. Back to the topic…

Seriously though, procrastination is one of my biggest weaknesses. Email piles up until my inbox is begging for mercy. Laundry piles up until we’re desperately washing tiny loads just to have underwear and jeans to wear. My exercise machine grows a fur coat of dust, my reading list grows and my outline languishes.

It’s so easy to put stuff off, especially if it has to do with writing. And especially when the writing gets hard. I tell myself I’ll just do it later. I promise this time.

But since we all know there probably won’t be a later or a little more time, we have to carve out time right now. Because the demon Procrastinator lurks around every corner and behind every dust bunny.

 Lego Joker

But, um, how do we go about this exactly? How do we smite the Evil Procrastinator?

Here’s some things that work for me:

  • Make a list of goals and pick some folks to keep you accountableLife List Club and ROW80 are awesome ways to put your goals out there and find a cheering/keep-you-in-line section.
  • Start small – If the big goal make you feel like you’re standing at the bottom of Mt Everest, try making tiny daily or weekly goals. It’s easy to build on them and develop a sense of trust in yourself. I’m all about the baby steps. But, if you’re motivated by big goals, set big goals to challenge yourself.
  • Get up early – I am so not a morning person. But, if I don’t wake up at least an hour before everyone else in the house gets up, it’s a huge challenge to get any writing done. Or you could stay up really late instead.
  • Schedule reminders on your phone – Schedule daily writing times and program your phone’s calendar to remind you twice. Really pester yourself.
  • Plan, plan, plan and list – It’s weird, I love to make lists but I used to hate making a daily schedule or an outline. I wanted to be spontaneous with my creative work and just go with the flow…except the flow usually led to nothing much getting done. So now I plan and plot and list. Plus, it’s fun to tick everything off my list.
  • Visualize yourself succeeding and taking joy in every step.
  • Leave yourself notes everywhere reminding you of your goals and cheering yourself on.
  • Cut back on time-sucks – There’s almost always more play in our daily schedules than we realize. We putter around, watch tv, surf the net, etc. At least some of those things can go so we have more time to pursue our dreams.
  • Give yourself permission to take a break – It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Cut back on your goal schedule or take a break. Just be sure to set specific goals for those cutback and breaks too so the goals don’t get abandoned.

So, even though it’s still a bit of a struggle for me, I’m learning to work around my wicked procrastinating ways. And, by all that is caffeinated, I will get my novel written (and the email read, the laundry done, the weight lost…)!

Do you put off your dreams? Procrastinate on your goals? How do you conquer that procrastination?

Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Like Spinning Plates by Jameson42, on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Plates by mallix, on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Ahhhhhhh by kennymatic, on Flickr CC BY 2.0
Lego Joker by Adam Crowe, on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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31 thoughts on “When I Have More Time and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

  1. I love this, Sonia, and really really needed this wake-up cal. Just this morning I slept that extra hour just because I could, (spring break!), rather than getting in gear and grabbing some necessary writing time. Weird how one wasted hour can throw the entire day off. Will I ever learn???

  2. Excellent post! I’m trying to keep from being sucked into the black hole of procrastination, so this was a good reminder for me to keep on keeping on!

  3. I read myself all the way through your post and as it turns out, not procrastinating is an integral part of my goals this round of ROW80. I, too, despise any kind of plotting, planning, outlining, and until a few days ago, still prided myself on mental to-do/grocery lists. Then, a library book was overdue, which seems small but it was the turning point.

    Great, great post and thank you. This one goes in my ready reference file.

    1. I was a pantser too. I really dragged my heels about becoming a plotter…though I’ve always enjoyed making lists *shrug*. Becoming more organized and planning more has made a big difference. Though I still hear the siren song of Procrastination now and then. LOL

  4. I defy anyone to answer ‘no’ to your question! I definitely procrastinate way too much. Just spent the evening watching Miss Marple instead of writing *smacks wrist*. It’s good to be reminded of ways to overcome procrastination (or poor decision-making). They might not always work, but… Great post!

  5. I would be lost without my lists! But I have to watch out to be sure I’m not procrastinating by moving things around on my list. ROW80 is great! I know that, because I listed something on my blog, I’m more likely to make one last push on Saturday to get something done. Sometimes that involves staying up later. Getting up early totally does not work for me – but it’s good to experiment and find out what does work for us!

  6. I have to keep myself motivated in order to keep from procrastinating, and even then I waste too much time social networking, etc. Keeping myself motivated means finding new writing challenges, new places to submit work to, interacting with new people – even going to a new place for the first time by myself and doing a little people watching for creative stimulation. Once I’m motivated, I’m ready to write…

  7. Sonia – love this post. I tend to procrastinate (though a little less these days). I get overwhelmed and then just say ” hell with it”, give up and keep living my mundane existence.

    I am sooo glad I follow your blog, especially today. 🙂

    You’ve given me some really great tips here!

    Enjoy your day. And I think your background color on our blog just changed to gray??

    1. I hear you on getting overwhelmed. I tend to want to do that all or nothing kind of thing. I have to remind myself a lot that even nibbling away at something is better than letting it slide.

      I’ve noticed sometimes the background loads brown but it’s supposed to be gray. 😀

  8. I love the idea of leaving myself little reminders and notes of encouragement. I think that is a great idea. I tend to procrastinate about doing my blog. I was all set to sign up for row 80, had all my goals written out, then I re-read the part about checking in twice a week by blogging. I have trouble with blogging once a week. Twice a week seemed overwhelming. Though I did post my goals on the fridge.

    1. I’ve been checking in only once a week the past round or two of ROW80. You can really check-in whenever you like. I’m getting a late start this round and I’m going to check-in for the first time next week. After that I may do only every other week or once a month.

  9. I am a huge procrastinator, and like you, lists are the only way I can get anything done. It’s a bit better now that I’ve given myself a deadline and declared it to the world, but man, I struggle every day.

  10. You’re the Queen of Later & I’m the Queen of Overthinkia. We should get along just fine.
    😉
    Nice post.

  11. I’m usually pretty good about completing tasks on time, but there is always room for improvement. I definitely have the habit of placing roadblocks in my mind, which inevitably makes me procrastinate under the guise of an excuse. Another great post Sonia!

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