Friday, July 2, 2010

What Does Procrastination Say About Me

Today, I am back to berating myself and my tendency towards procrastination. I am a classic case, really. I often purchase birthday cards, FATHER'S DAY CARDS, etc. well in advance of the occasion, then when it comes time to get the darn things in the mail, I can't find them or they sit on the counter waiting to be mailed.

Just last week, I finally mailed a cute little birthday card that Trevor made for his cousin, Rachael. He made the card on her birthday, but I failed to mail it until a week had gone by (even though the envelope was sitting on the passenger seat of the van that whole time).

I still have my father's Father's Day card ... somewhere ... and need to get it in the mail. Heck, I still have my dad's birthday card (along with the family photo I intended to include) from two years ago. Ridiculous, I know. But every year it happens just the same.

So, why am I rebuking my bad habits today?

Well, today Trevor and Bryce had an appointment for their school shots. As soon as we returned home, I decided I had better fill out our medical forms for CBLI and mail them in. As I scrounged around looking for whatever pile I may have placed the forms on (I had printed them out from the computer back in April when I completed the on-line registration), I discovered several other things that I had been looking for (including Sean's immunization record, which had been lost for almost a year).

When I finally located the forms (on the hallway bookshelf ... placed there when I was straightening for company ... mother-in-law, brother & family, my parents???), I noticed that the forms were due by July 1st. I did my best to fill them out completely and rushed them over to the post office, knowing full well that, with the holiday weekend and Monday considered a federal holiday, the forms won't arrive at their destination until Tuesday, July 6th. That means, I'm really almost a whole week late, not merely one day late.

The truly sad thing is that this happens all the time. I genuinely enjoy going to CBLI. My kids enjoy it even more than I do. I have every reason to get my act together and register at the first possible moment, completing every form necessary right away. Yet, every year, I dilly-dally until it is almost too late. Indeed, one year we were on the waiting list and missed two days, but were finally allowed to go because someone didn't show up for the camp (who would do a thing like that??? that sounds worse than a problem with procrastination!).

So, what does this procrastination habit say about me? My husband says that I'm disorganized because it involves work. He says I am completely capable of organizing things, but I don't do it because I don't want to work. This rubs me the wrong way, even as I gaze deep inside, timidly wondering if he is right and that I am truly just a work-averse individual.

Books on procrastination would say that I am insecure and anxious. I will admit that I feel insecure and anxious in the face of tasks that I procrastinate on.

For example, Trevor and Sean's room needs a complete overhaul. It needs a complete overhaul every single day of the week. No sooner do I get the room straightened and organized, than they walk into it, begin pulling clothes out of drawers and dropping them on the floor or pulling books off of shelves and dropping them onto the floor, or knocking over piles of sheets and blankets. Thus, when I think about the task, I find myself dreading both the act of cleaning it and the immediate demise of my efforts.

I have a tremendous paper problem. I have stacks and stacks of papers that I wish to keep, but never manage to place in an organized file system. When I try to go through them, I look at the mess and wonder where everything should go. I don't want to part with an item and yet, I cannot for the life of me, figure out where it should be kept.

Example: The little boys received swimming verification certificates when they completed their swimming lessons back in April. I have those certificates ... on a pile. I have no clue what to do with them. It seems pointless to create a file for swimming certificates, yet throwing them out seems wrong. What if they need to prove a level of swimming proficiency at some point? I don't know.

All of this spins around like a black cloud over my head continuously. I want to go through all the paper work and organize it (especially my writing), but it is such a monumental task and I doubt I can get through it (even if I worked for 10 minutes at a time each day, as the books seem to suggest).

Yet, wringing my hands and saying "I have a clear problem with procrastination," isn't really helping things either. I know this is basically viewed as a bad habit and the key to changing a bad habit is to commit to altering the habit for at least 30 days. Sadly, I will wake up tomorrow and discover more things that I have put off for another day.

So, next time you hang out with procrastination, could you do me a favor? Let her know (by virtue of my catty feelings towards procrastination, it must be feminine) that I really wish that she and I would be on the outs. She can pack up her bags and leave, as far as I'm concerned. Tonight. But, as you are talking to her, maybe bait the hook a little bit and find out what she says about me, please?


cardiogirl said...

Ugh, that chick. She hangs out at my place, too. I'm not sure how to kick her out but more than anything I really want to kick your husband for saying you are disorganized because it involves work.


Do you have a timer on your microwave? Maybe you could set it for just five minutes each day and then work on paperwork until it beeps and then don't come back to it until the next day.

Or, you could create your own reward system. After five days of that five-minute organizing you get to eat a dark chocolate candy bar.

Naturally you'll have to eat it at midnight when your kids are asleep so you don't have to share, but it'll be worth it.

Good luck.

Wendy said...

Of course, I'm sensitive to my husband's opinion that I'm lazy - because their family worships "productivity." However, I must say that he believes my hunch about adrenal fatigue more than most spouses usually do. I have a hard time getting anything done.

I think what I really need is to have an organized friend come help me with the task (that seems to motivate me more and I dont' worry so much about getting stuck because someone else will be there to keep me moving).

And thankfully, if I reward myself with dark chocolate, I don't have to hide it much because the only one who would ask to share is Trevor. Otherwise, they all leave me my dark chocoalate. Sadly, the book I am reading about adrenal fatigue suggests that you need to cut out all chocolate (really?????).