How to put off doing stuff. Procrastination. I have been having some trouble actually getting started and writing anything, and it turns out that what I have mostly been doing is in fact just procrastination in one form or other. It took me a while to realise this. I believe there is hope and it is treatable! Here are classic examples of it.
- Convincing yourself that domestic chores, e.g cooking, cleaning, are not procrastination, they really need doing and they must be the absolute priority, despite the fact that you are exhausted, have not got anyone coming to visit so it does not matter too much for another day or so, and there are alternatives available in the freezer. Now where did I put that duster.
- Doubting yourself. A complete killer to action and usually the biggest one, in my experience! Yes the negative voice in your head is very loud but I decided that the only way to beat it is to just start typing. There are always going to be better people out there and if you use that as a reason to stop then you definitely will never achieve what you want!
- Daydreaming. Not a good idea. One can waste literally years of their life on this and that is not recommended. It’s nice to spend time listening to lovely songs on Youtube or lie on the bed throwing a pencil. Just not for hours. In my experience this is usually another way of actually not dealing with something, and an avoidance tactic. And a pretty useless one, sadly. You might learn some song lyrics though so at the most it might be useful for those pub quizzes that are clearly going to make all your dreams come true! Maybe setting a time limit is one way round this. Say to yourself “I will achieve X by 3 o clock, and then I will have total free time after that”.
- Fear. Yes it is terrifying but maybe check whether you want to actually do it. If you really, really want to do something, you will find a way. Why waste time worrying about it, when you know you could be starting sooner rather than later and could produce/find something amazing once you start?
- Fatigue from the day job. Hmmm, this one is fair enough isn’t it? Or is it….. I have made excuses about being tired and not having time, but when I have really thought about it I have actually managed to squeeze in half an hour after dinner, and I have found myself getting into the zone and then able to just keep going! Once you do something that you actually enjoy, as no doubt people know, you get energized from it and it motivates you to keep going! And somehow watching that second episode of Friends seems much less vital. That leads me conveniently to the next point, actually.
- Watching bad tv. And not just bad tv. Horrible TV. Or comfort viewing, i.e watching things you have seen fifty hundred times already and know by heart, word-for-word, backwards and forwards. Why we do this I am not sure, I suspect it is a combination of the above and it is another real killer of achievement! If you are watching a new series that happens to be bad, for the sake of research or out of curiosity, fair enough! But if there is no good reason other than you do not feel like trying something new and you want to watch something that makes you feel safe, even though you know it is not the most important thing that you should be doing right now, then in fact it is actually doing you harm.
- Picking a fight with someone. Usually an unsuspecting family member. Let them say one wrong thing and all your frustrations are unleashed in a torrent of abuse. This is probably in fact a result of your not achieving what you want and you feel angry and resentful about spending your time doing things you have to do rather than things you want to do.
- Reading and re-reading. Ok, you have seen a recipe that you like. Try to set a time limit rather than being indecisive and pondering whether you actually want to do it or not. Self-doubt sets in, you are not sure you have all the ingredients, will it require advice from the better cooks that you know, you google further techniques, you start to google “what’s the best way to poach an egg” etc.
- Eating … reaching for the snacks because you have convinced yourself that you are slightly hungry when in fact you really just need to get on with other things. This could be another way to remain safe and comfortable. Maybe limit yourself to one and then make sure you turn off the TV and get on.
- Staring into space and thinking. About anything, and everything. Contemplating all sorts of things and overthinking some things. In large doses this is probably not productive and not helpful. Sometimes it happens without one realising, but best avoided for more than a few minutes. Do give yourself a few minutes of thinking time though because you definitely will need it to contemplate and get your thoughts together now and then.
As I said at the start, it can be really hard to recognise. Just taking action and making this list helped me to get started so please don’t let doubt and fear keep you back too. I hope it goes well.
Also see my post on top 10 things to do during lockdown https://ayeshahamid.co.uk/top-10-things-to-do-during-the-lockdown-period-especially-if-you-are-living-alone