Coping

My former life as an escape artist

Hmm ... tonight I need to finish online shopping, make that dentist's appointment and start the newsletter. Where's my iPhone?

Hmm … tonight I need to finish online shopping, make that dentist’s appointment and start the newsletter. Where’s my iPhone?

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
(I’ve actually seen this quote, and variations of it, credited to Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde)

As I begin this new year, I continue to examine where most of my energy goes and how I get energized each day. And I have to admit it: I’m a recovering procrastinator. Whether it’s a pleasant task or not, I find some way to get distracted from it. Before I put most of my bills onto electronic payments, I would get a late fee for things that I HAD the money in the bank to pay for — very, very bad I know.

But with more use of handwritten and prominently displayed lists and various electronic tools at my disposal, I do a lot more planning. This is how I’ve been overcoming my procrastination and that’s where most of my daily energy goes. I have set up reminders for almost everything: doctors’ appointments, groceries, store returns, subscription renewals or cancellations. I’m still perfecting things, but I used to be so much worse — a true “escape artist.”

PalmPilot

When I first got onto the right track, back in the day, I used the Filofax system, which was spectacular. This system offers lists upon lists and plenty of room for notes — plus, it’s very stylish. And when I had to go a little less expensive, I would turn to DayRunner or others like that. One place to keep my calendar and address book. Then there was my Palm Pilot — I loved that Palm Pilot (it’s in the Smithsonian now). No matter where I was, my organizers were my lifeline. And if I had to travel light someplace, I at least kept a reporter’s notepad and pen or at least one piece of paper with me at all times.

I was always one of those busy people who didn’t just pay dues in a group to be able to  list it on my resume, I was an active member. There were even meetings to plan the next meeting. But if anything negative distracted me, I would get bogged down in it. Oh no … my dad’s in the hospital, so-and-so is about to lose their home and needs a loan, my friend just lost her job or boyfriend or dog, etc.

I’m glad that I learned before I had my daughter that there will ALWAYS be distractions and draining circumstances. And I will always be a perfectionist who hates to turn in something that I haven’t quadruple-checked and then checked with someone else before turning it in. So I’ve learned to give myself more time to get projects done. And it’s also very important to acknowledge my limitations in time, money and emotional resources. Saying “no” to someone or some group doesn’t mean the end of the world. That was the toughest — but most welcome — reality for me.

One psychologist said in a Psychology Today piece about procrastination that, “It is always about choice,” Timothy Pychyl, author of The Procrastinator’s Digest said. “We’re given a certain amount of time and we have to use it.” And then, the clincher: “It’s the acts of omission that lead to our biggest regrets in life. Where do we choose to invest ourselves?”  Pychyl continued, “Your indecision, your inaction, becomes your choice, your act — perhaps your whole life.”

I’m not perfect, by any means. I still have Christmas wrap and some gifts to find places for, but it’s not even two weeks after the holiday. But I am on a better path. And when I get my post-holiday goals all reached, I think I might just treat myself to a nap. Right now, I’m putting the finishing touches onto our first “Year in Review” newsletter. But I got a little distracted writing this post. Oops!

Well, how do you avoid procrastination or do you?

I'm part of Post A Day 2013

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One thought on “My former life as an escape artist

  1. Can’t say that I avoid procrastination very well, especially when it comes to big projects. But once I do get down to it, I stay on it until it is finished or reached the next stage where I can leave it alone for a bit. I’ve been using the Reminder app for iPad, but I find a handwritten planner still works best.

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