Hey guys, I should be working on something productive at this moment. I have a nice long to-do list that includes a lot of cleaning. You know, I really could be a clean freak if I wanted to be. But I lack motivation. Seems to be the theme of my life: my lack of motivation 70% of the time. I literally just spent way too long playing Spider Solitaire and listening to music when I should have been bouncing babies or scrubbing toilets or running five miles. Why is that?
One word: procrastination.
One of my 2020 New Year goals was to get ahead of my procrastination. Up until 2018, I was not a procrastinator at all. But we moved and had a hard year and a half or so. It was during that time that I stopped caring about what got done and what got left for tomorrow (ah, the magical illusion of the perfect tomorrow where everything gets finished). Then when we moved here, I became acutely aware that I had fallen into a severe state of laziness. So this year I’ve been trying and working to get out of that place and back into being a productive member of humanity.
Some days I do better than others. I’ve gotten better, but I still struggle with putting things off and just expecting that they’ll get done without any effort from me. In other words, I end up with piles of stuff to do in a short amount of time.
I’ve learned several things which include…
Nothing Gets Done Without Effort
Such a logical statement but so hard to actually believe and set into practice (at least for me). Somehow, I still hold onto the illusion that if I put things off, they’ll just finish themselves or disappear into the Vortex of Time and stop bothering me. That simply isn’t true. Anything good in life requires some sort of effort from us. It may be a lot or a little, but nothing just creates itself.
I lay in bed at night and dream about what I want to do with the next day. I need to write a few thousand words on my story, I need to reconnect with friends, I need to help my siblings, I need to read, do school, bake, exercise, and clean. But when the next day dawns, I find myself avoiding those things because I don’t feel like doing them. I dream of finishing my novel, and then get frustrated when it’s been a year and I’ve only written the first chapter. Well, self, if you actually worked on it, it would come together.
Unfinished Work Will Always Hang Over Your Head
I put things off and hope to just forget about them. But they’re constantly in the back of my mind and hanging over my head. I can’t fully enjoy fun things because I’m always reminded that I have jobs I need to finish.
It Doesn’t Take As Much Time Or Energy As You Think
Honestly, the longer I procrastinate over something, the harder it is to actually start. I work it up in my mind to be this massive, terrible, hard thing when it really isn’t. When I finally force myself to do it, I’m shocked at how quickly I could get it done.
Take making the beds for example. A chore of mine is to make all the beds in the house every two days. I hate making beds. So I avoid it as long as possible, because it is some horrible, boring job that will take forever to do. In reality, I can get it done fairly quickly and it makes all of the bedrooms feel much tidier and at peace.
I waste more time dreading the chore than it takes to actually get it done. It’s really ridiculous. But I still do it on a regular basis.
Just Do It, Please
Just do it. Seriously. I just have to say, “Self, we’re going to do this right now. Not in five minutes. Not in an hour. Get up this second and do it. We’re not going to stop until it is finished.” And lo and behold, the thing actually gets done in a reasonable amount of time. I feel great because it’s not hanging over my head anymore and it’s done.
Checklists are immensely helpful for me. When I see the list in front of me, it reminds me visually that I have to do all of these points before I can do anything else. (And checking off checklists is GREAT).
Goals are also very helpful. If I’m procrastinating on writing, for example, it helps to set a goal such as, “I’m going to write thirty minutes every morning after I finish my school.” Or “I’m going to write at least a thousand words on my novel every single day”. When you’re uninspired or unmotivated, push through. Sit down and don’t leave until you reach the goal that you have set. You don’t have to set impossible goals – start small and work your way up.
Having a routine also helps a ton. For years I told myself that I hated routines because they were boring and repetitive. But I’ve come to realize how important they are for me, if I want to be productive. Currently, my life has no routine save for nights – every single night starting at 10:20 I play with Ink and Dreamer for 50 minutes. But for a while, I had an awesome routine for the day. I had set times where I would work on school, write, clean, write more and spend time with my family. If I compare the present to that time, I can see how much more productive I was.
The Reality Behind Procrastination
Saying, “I am a procrastinator” sounds so much better than saying “I am being lazy and avoiding my work”. Take away the fancy word and reveal procrastination for what it really is. Laziness. Then get up and find a project that you’ve been avoiding and work at it for the next thirty minutes. See your progress. Be encouraged. Most importantly, don’t give up. Bad habits are hard to break, but they CAN be overcome with enough time and patience. Don’t stop if you don’t see results in the first few days.
Now that I’ve finished here, I’m going to go work on my chore list. 😉 One battle at a time, friends. Eventually we will win this war.