My Own Worst Enemy – Procrastination

Ok, this picture has nothing to do with the blog post, but the moon was so pretty the other night, I had to share.

Now, back to the post.

I have a problem.

My problem is that instead of staying on top of things, I tend to let everything build up until my to-do list is a mile long and I feel overwhelmed and instead of doing anything productive, I surf the internet and watch Big Bang Theory reruns or Ringer.

This is quite the conundrum for me, as I’m a firm believer that outer order creates inner calm.  I feel so much better when everything is clean and there isn’t crap lying around.  I just hate the process of getting to that point so much.

I come from a stay-at-home mom household, and my mom used to be a neat freak before she wasn’t able to do it anymore.  I remember her having meltdowns when we were forced to help her clean if we did things in the wrong order.  You had to dust first, then sweep, then scrub, then vacuum.  She washed walls and cupboards as part of spring cleaning.  She vacuumed everyday.  Company coming sent her into a cleaning frenzy.  Maybe this is where my love of a clean environment comes from?

I think I’d like to be a stay-at-home mom, minus the whole kids part.  I think I would be quite happy spending an eight hour day cooking and cleaning.  My problem stems from the fact that I work full time and I’m usually gone on the weekends.  This doesn’t leave me with much time or energy for the cleaning part.  And I can usually find something “better” to do with the free time I do have.

I’m slowly making progress with overcoming my procrastination demon.  Here are some things that I find help me increase my productivity.

1.  Make a list.  When I’m feeling overwhelmed with everything I have to do, writing it out can help.  Sometimes it feels worse than it actually is, and what I have to do doesn’t look so bad once it’s written down.  Plus, I also really like the satisfaction of crossing something off a list.

2.  Just do it!  I’ve realized that having that nagging feeling that there’s something I need to do in the back of my mind is often worse than just doing the thing in the first place.  Sometimes it doesn’t even take that long to do the task.  I hate making phone calls.  But it takes like two seconds to set up a car appointment!

3.  Multitask.  Iron or fold laundry while you watch TV.  Do the dishes while you’re on the phone.  I’d really like to get one of those headset phone things to free up my hands.  Think of how productive I could be!

4.  Doing a little now is better than doing a lot later.  I pretty much only like to clean when I have a large block of uninterrupted time that I can devote to it and get it all done at once.  This is both good and bad.  It’s good because you don’t have to clean everyday.  It’s bad because if I don’t have a lot of time, I do nothing, and because there’s more to do, it takes longer to get things tidy when I get around to doing it.  I’ve started cleaning my bathroom the day before I do the rest of my cleaning.  This is my most time consuming chore and it feels so good on cleaning day knowing that it’s already done.

5.  Don’t let it pile up.  Ok, this is very similar to #4.  But it is perhaps my biggest problem.  Instead of doing my finances every week, I procrastinate for a month.  Instead of filing away documents that come in the mail, I let them sit.  Instead of finding a home for something, I put it on the counter.  I let all these things build up until the task that would take only a few minutes has turned into a mess that will take longer to clean up.  This goes hand in hand with #2.

6.  Make it a routine.  I’ve discovered that I’m more likely to do something if it has a particular day of the week assigned to it.  Taking out the garbage is one of my least favorite chores.  I’ve found that since I’ve started doing it every Thursday it’s gotten easier.  Same goes for cleaning the bathroom.  I try to do that Wednesday mornings before yoga.  Giving these things a designated day has made it easier for me to get them done.

7.  Know when “good” is “good enough”.  I used to try to clean everything every week, just like my mom.  I realized that didn’t work for me, so I stopped pressuring myself to do it.  And sometimes I cheat a little bit.  Maybe I’ll only clean the sink and the toilet, and forget about the tub.  Maybe I’ll just sweep, and not scrub.  Something is better than nothing.  I just don’t let myself do it every time.

8.  Clean with music.  A good dance tune motivates me to get my chores done, sort of like it motivates me to run faster.  I don’t always like silence, and the TV distracts me.  I end up sitting down to watch the show instead of just listening to it.  Music keeps me company and makes the time go faster.

9.  Turn off the computer.  I tend to get sucked into the internet vortex.  Especially in the evening or when I’m putting off doing something.  It’s just so much easier to surf the web than do the alternative.

Now can anyone help me get off my arse in the evenings?  One of my huge problems is that after working an eight hour day and going to the gym, when I finally get home and sit down and eat supper, I have the hardest time making myself get up again!  I’ve succeeded in the past year with making myself tidy up the after supper mess in the kitchen, but that’s about it.

Help!  What are your tips for being productive workday evenings?

One thought on “My Own Worst Enemy – Procrastination

  1. Making a list is one of my best defenses against procrastination! It helps me prioritize and see exactly what needs done each day to stay on track. Sometimes it’s a way to lower my stress but sometimes it’s a way to keep me moving!

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