I have a to-do list 18 miles long. Some days it is overwhelming, and some days I completely ignore it. I have a lot of things that I plan to get done. I just don’t get them done.
I’m not really a procrastinator. I’m an optimistic over-achiever, and I have too many things that I legitimately think that I can get done. I can’t seem to get them all done.
Then I feel guilty and overwhelmed. Then I procrastinate on getting to the list because I know I won’t get done nearly as much as I thought I could get done, and I feel bad.
[ctt template=”10″ link=”Ihs8d” via=”yes” ]Have you been overwhelmed by your task list you planned to complete while in isolation? Plan a Procrastination Party![/ctt]
When we were initially in lockdown, I was sure that I was going to get so much done in the office and around the house. After all, I didn’t have clients that I was scheduled to visit; I didn’t have the majority of my work to do. I was going to be home each evening, and I was going to find myself with all the spare time I needed to do all the things I had been procrastinating on.
That hasn’t happened. Somehow all those hours in the day have been filled. Filled with things that I didn’t know I was going to have to do: new tasks, new clients, new plans. And before I knew it, my to-do list kept growing on me instead of disappearing as planned.
The guilt continued to grow, as well. The guilt of planning to do things and not finding the time to get them done. It isn’t as if I am wasting time while I’m working in the office, but I’m not doing the things I had hoped I was going to have time to do.
I knew that things were not going to change if I kept on working this way. I had to do something about it.
I am motivated by positive rewards as opposed to negative consequences. Beating myself up wasn’t going to be the motivation that worked for me. However, knowing that I could have a positive reward would motivate me to get done what I needed to get done.
A party is a positive reward, right? Even if it is a virtual party, and I’m the only attendee. It’s still enough motivation for me.
Here is how a procrastination party works:
1. Open a blank document and do a brain dump on all the things you said you were going to get done in the past year. You can do this in two lists if you like (one personal and one professional). Write it all down, and don’t self-edit as you do so.
Business: Clean up my inbox. Set up rules for color-coding incoming emails. Check into getting my professional certification. Upgrade my LinkedIn profile. Get testimonials on LinkedIn. Attend one webinar per quarter to improve my skills.
Personal: Clean out my closet. Exercise 3 times per week. Plant a flower garden. Call my parents weekly. Save 2% of my weekly paycheck into the “Vacation” account. Clean up my friends on Facebook.
The list will be overwhelming, and it is likely to be lengthy. Don’t add new ideas; instead, ask yourself what activities you have said over the past 12 months that you were planning to do.
2. When the list is made, take ONE thing and do it immediately. If you have ever attended any of my time management workshops or webinars, you know that I have a three-minute rule. If it takes less than three minutes to do something, just do it. This rule doesn’t apply as you are writing the list, but when it is completed, find ONE thing that you can strike off the list because it was quick and easy.
3. Find TWO things on the list that you can commit to starting this week. You don’t need to complete the task, but you have to get it started. Put two more things into motion this week.
You will visit the list weekly, and each week two more things begin to get implemented. Be careful what you choose weekly as the first two things you selected may not be finished yet.
Warren and I are cleaning the basement. We spend at least 30 minutes twice a week in the basement cleaning boxes. I’ve gone through a lot of the old photos and tossed a ton of them. If I didn’t know where the photo was taken (if it was a landscape), why am I keeping the picture? For a lot of the photos of the kids, I put them in a folder to give to my adult children when I see them next. It is quite exciting to find a newborn photo of my son and compare it to my grandson to see how much alike they look.
Professionally I am cleaning up my database. I’ve had my newsletter database for over 20 years, and it has been a long time since I’ve gone through and cleaned up bounces, duplications, and unsubscribes. I could easily spend the next 100 days doing just that, but I’m doing it a little at a time.
These two things will not be completed in one week, so as I add more items each week, I’m mindful of the time they will take me. I know that the database cleanup alone will be on my procrastination party list for many months to come. While I may never have a perfectly clean database, each time I spend a little time on it, I feel so much satisfaction!
4. Find THREE things on the list that you’ve decided you aren’t going to do at all. Permit yourself to let go of whatever it was you thought you wanted to do.
Warren and I were planning on painting our guest bedroom. It needs painting, but we’ve decided that until we can afford to pay someone to paint it for us (and the pandemic allows someone in our house), it won’t be painted. No one is coming to visit anyway, so that was easy to let go. I enjoy painting (as strange as that sounds), so I was hesitant to let that task go. I decided that I was beating myself up over never getting around to it, so I made the official decision that I will not be the one to paint the guest bedroom.
In my office, I stopped editing my video files. Warren does that now. Again, this was a task I enjoyed doing; I liked finding new ways to make my videos fun. I delegated it away, Warren does an excellent job, and something disappeared off my list.
Each week I add things to the “this week” list—many small things so that I quickly see the list starting to disappear. I don’t make a point to remove items from the list each week, but I have found that I occasionally do. It is getting easier to let it go.
My party is just me. I’ve been celebrating all the things that I’m getting done and those that I’m no longer doing.
[ctt template=”10″ link=”weHdL” via=”no” ]Taking control of my task list feels good. I feel more in control and that alone is worth celebrating![/ctt]
It feels good. I am feeling more in control, and that alone is worth celebrating.