I wish I was one of those “do it right now” people.
I probably would feel a lot less guilt. About a lot of things.
And stress. I’m guessing my stress level would be lower if I felt like I was more productive in my days.
More than just putting off
I recently forwarded myself an email containing a link for free stock photos. Now this was something I really WANTED. Something I had been looking for that I fully intended to use right away. I had received it at the email I use when I want to access emails on my phone, and I forwarded it to the email I use when I want to access it on my laptop so I can save it or print it or whatever. And it took me three days to open it. I knew what it was, I knew I wanted to use it, and it still took me three days to access it.
Is that procrastination? I understand procrastination to be “putting off until tomorrow” (or later!), so I guess in this case it is.
But my not doing things “right now” seems to be broader than just procrastinating.
To do or not to do?
I have a to-do list. It’s usually pretty extensive.
There are some things on my to-do list that have been there for a long time. Like weeks. I don’t feel like I’m putting them off; it’s more like I have too much to do in a day so they get left over.
The time management experts I’ve read and heard say to pick the three most important things from your list to do each day. Do them, and fill in the rest of the day with some of the other not-so-important things.
In theory this sounds great. In practice it’s just not working for me.
Everything is important. And the things that for one day I deem less important, become MORE important the longer they get relegated to the “less important” portion of the list.
For instance, I need to set up the advertising links and the affiliate relationships for this blog. Part of my intention for starting Mama Loves Life is to supplement my income, so those are pretty critical things to do. I need to write a disclaimer page about the advertising and affiliates. I need to write a kick-ass About Me page so y’all can learn more about me. I need to post articles more often.
These things–in particular the advertising and affiliate stuff–have been on my written to-do list for over a week. (They’ve been on my mental to-do list for 3 months!) But I have a jewelry business to run, with a physical location and actual customers who come in and maybe want to buy things. That, of course, is my primary source of income, and my customers always come first!
Do this, do that, do the other thing…
So here’s an example: I sit at my computer, wade through some emails, start the Google Adsense application process, and a family walks in. The mom is looking for a pendant, the daughter loves every ring in the case and wants to try them all on, and the dad is fascinated by my wall map with pins in it for all the places where the people to whom I’ve sold my jewelry live. There’s 30 or 40 minutes of my day, taken up by lovely people who actually may or may not purchase anything!
Another example: last Monday, a box of supplies I’d ordered arrived. Beads, mostly, so I spent the better part of the rest of the week stringing. I can’t sell things that aren’t yet made, and the inventory doesn’t make itself! (I keep trying to borrow Santa’s elves during his off-season, but so far no luck!)
One final example: my son, who doesn’t yet drive on his own, needs to stay after school for a meeting of the marching band leadership. That means in order for him to get to his karate class on time, I have to close my store for about 45 minutes to go get him and take him home. (He then rides his bike to and from karate, which is less than 2 miles from our house.)
I don’t mind doing any of these things–they’re all a part of my life, and I love my life! But I’m sure you all know that it takes twice as long to get back into a chore after an “interruption”, which makes the day that much less productive. And so the same tasks stay on my to-do list indefinitely.
I don’t think there’s any moral to this story. I’m 56 years old, and procrastination in all its nuanced forms has been a lifelong challenge. If there was a miracle cure for this condition, or even a life hack or tip that really worked to minimize it, I’m pretty sure I would have implemented it by now.
So I don’t have any words of wisdom for those of you struggling with the same issue. I guess I’m just saying that you’re not alone, and like the rest of us you’re doing the best you can! My best advice is to laugh at yourself while you’re muddling along, because being happy is always better than not!
(Oh, and try that “three most important things” trick I mentioned earlier–it might just work for you!)