Procrastination and priorities

To the tune of Anticipation, by Carly Simon… “Procrastination, procrastination…. Is makin’ me late… Is keepin’ me waitin’.”

Something I wrote a while ago keeps coming back to me, and it has to do  with this feeling of fragility. Intangibility. Perhaps it is kin to that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Kin to the feeling of balancing many spinning plates on the ends of long sticks. Everything is going well, really, but sometimes I still feel the anxiety of being one unlucky tip away from shattered glass at my feet.

(Upon writing that sentence, the snarky part of my mind suggested that maybe it was time I started using heavy plastic instead of glass. Then that led me to rabbit trail down the practical considerations of whether or not plastic (however dense) might spin comparative to ceramic. All up to the point where I reminded myself, this was only intended as a visual example. I share this, because it shows how abstractedly distracted my thoughts have become, lately. Maybe you’ll get a chuckle; I know I did – sometimes all I can do is just laugh at myself and move along.)

This year of healing, while it has been full of many steps and successes, has also borne it’s fair share of struggles. Sometimes, in applying my silver-linings so assiduously, I think I am doing myself a little disservice. It is, perhaps, a question of how many plates I can keep spinning at a time, and how many I should. Right now I am dealing with a lot of things to balance, and not really balancing them as well as I would like. For the most part, I think it is important to focus on positivity, but not at the exclusion of careful self-reflection.

Finances: Christmas side-lined my careful budgeting. I suppose, to be honest, I lapsed into something resembling retail-therapy, as I get a lot of satisfaction from giving gifts. Then there were interviews. Part of my currently low bank account came about from getting myself some new clothes, some new shoes, etc. I went 10 years hardly buying myself anything, so I think I swung to the other side of the extreme. Having watched my finances so carefully for so long, I now have to find a happy medium. I don’t like living paycheck to paycheck, and I really would like the comfort of having some money in savings. Right now I am scraping the barrel at the end of each pay period. Some of that is going to covering bills that went to the wayside while my divorce was ongoing. But that excuse isn’t here any more, and I need to start – if not exactly sacrificing – picking and choosing much more carefully what I spend money on. Fewer Starbucks. Commute by bus more. Stop eating out so much for convenience, or to save time. Speaking of…

Time: I still feel a little stretched thin sometimes. Nowhere near as much as when I was married. But this is another extreme I think I am experiencing after emerging from my marriage. Going out of the home, going anywhere without my ex (barring to get us food, or groceries or gas…), always meant consequences. Coming home to someone irritable and angry, or who wouldn’t feed himself right while I was gone (and grumble at me for it), or in the worst moments, he would be drunk. Towards the end of our marriage, I didn’t have the energy to deal with the repercussions of going out for me time much. Now, it is hard to focus on school, and I find myself procrastinating a great deal. Up until two or three weeks ago I was constantly on the go, and having a difficult time keeping up with all my commitments. I hit the wall then, almost physically, and have had a difficult time recovering.

Between these two items, I have had to take a good hard look at what I am spending money and time on, and consider if those things benefit me. I have also decided that procrastination is not only a symptom of anxiety, but it is like the shooting pain that makes us pay attention to an ailing body part. So I am re-evaluating a lot of things right now.

With my perfectionist tendencies, if I can’t do something the way I think it needs to be done, I have a hard time motivating myself to do it at all. So, lately, I’ve created a Mantra for myself – something to repeat at certain times of the day, when I hesitate or start to avoid the task. “What can I do that is a little better choice than the one I want to do.”

This often allows me to acknowledge what I’m feeling (tired, hungry, etc.) and not beat myself up for doing what I need to do. But it also keeps my mind on the idea of doing a little better, every day. This week, I have been working hard to leave the house 30 minutes earlier. If I do, I can take the bus. Which means I am not tempted to swing through the Starbucks drive-thru and spend a godawful amount on blissful caffeine, and am not tempted by the high-calorie sugar drinks. I also spend less on parking. It also gives me a chance to decompress after work on the way home, without having to focus on the road and crazy drivers or traffic.

By doing just a little better (getting up and leaving earlier) in one thing, there are often little benefits that are good for us in other ways. Any of you have something you want to do just a little better at? I’m curious if you have any insight, advice, thoughts on how you motivate and encourage yourself throughout the day.




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