I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while now. I kept putting it off for different reasons, and after a while they just started to sound more like excuses.
“Oh, work’s been so busy lately.”
“Oh, I don’t know what it should be about.”
“Oh, I should probably read more blogs so I don’t look like an idiot when I post something.”
“Oh, I’m pretty sleepy. Tomorrow sounds better.”
“Oh, these pajamas are pretty comfortable. And I’m in bed. And the computer’s on the other side of the room.”
Oh. Or I could just, you know… make one.
I’ve always been a procrastinator. Whether it’s something big or small, something I don’t want to do or even something I want to do, I have a habit of putting things off. And I don’t know why. And I kind of want to talk about it.
I don’t know what exactly makes us put off doing stuff. There are small things, like taking out the garbage or washing the dishes, that can be done so quickly that we just sort of assume we can put them off with no real consequences. And yeah, some things really don’t need our immediate attention. It only takes a minute to take the trash out, and those dishes aren’t really hurting anyone.
But then we end up letting a whole bunch of little things build up on this imaginary to-do list, and after a while it seems like we actually do have a lot to accomplish. And those tasks eventually become excuses to put off doing more important things. And really, it’s when we put off those important things that we start to get that shitty feeling in our gut, and we reach for any excuse that can act as temporary relief. Excuses and antacids aren’t the same, though. Those important things will still need doing.
And it really sucks, ’cause I want to say just do whatever it is you’re putting off. But I can’t ignore the fact that it’s tough to sometimes get yourself motivated to actually do stuff. I know, it’s weird, it sounds lazy, but it still happens. We procrastinate and we ask ourselves why.
I don’t think there’s any one piece of advice anybody can give that will cure procrastination. I mean, sure, there’s lots of useful advice, but everyone’s different and there isn’t one universal thing that can be said to make procrastination go away forever. Part of the reason is because different tasks require different approaches. For example, I always sucked at big school projects. They just kept looming over me, and it was intimidating to start something so big. I kept telling myself they needed my full attention, so I wouldn’t do anything on days I had work or if other assignments were due sooner. The most common strategy with this situation is to just do a little bit of a project each day, so you can keep making progress and make it less intimidating and more approachable as time goes on.
Great for that situation, but it doesn’t work all the time, does it? You can’t always do “a little bit” of something a day, sometimes you just need to do it. Getting oil changes, food shopping, telling someone you like them, starting a damn blog; some things you’ve just got to force yourself to do. And sometimes it can be hard. Maybe you’re putting off that oil change because you know there’s something else wrong with your car that the mechanic’s going to insist on fixing and you can’t bring yourself to say no because you already don’t have enough money for groceries this week. Maybe the person you like is a really good friend, and you have a lot to lose if he or she doesn’t like you back. It turns into a mind game and you try to win it by avoiding the situation, hoping it will cease to exist.
It’s still going to exist.
Yeah, no shit it’s still going to exist. All this stuff is obvious, right? Maybe, but sometimes we still need to hear things we already know. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of lessons we think we’ve learned, or maybe have learned. Sometimes we just need to hear someone else say it. Sorry I can’t offer any better advice, but everyone gets past these things in their own way. The most important thing is to keep trying. And keep reminding yourself how good it will feel to have that thing that’s stressing you out finally done. It took me months to start this blog. I made a lot of excuses, but you know what? I did it. This first post isn’t perfect, I didn’t have a plan, I just wrote. And there’s probably some points I would have liked to include a few days after I finished, and there’s probably some grammatical errors I’m going to beat myself up for, even after proofreading, and it may have taken me hours to just write this one little blurb (not counting breaks for texting, listening to music, and cleaning the kitchen), but I did it. And you know what? It feels
absolutely invigorating. 🙂