Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
There are many things that I would change about myself. If I had to choose one thing to change about myself, right now, it would be my habit of procrastination.
I always seem to dread even simple tasks, and I do not know why. There are just some things that I do not like to do, and I try to avoid them, but eventually I know that I will have to do them or chaos reigns.
For example, while studying at the university, I was required to take math, science, and languages. These were not my best subjects – especially math – so I tried to avoid doing the work. Of course my grades suffered. So I finally decided to do the subjects I hated most FIRST. I got it out of the way and could then study the subjects I loved – literature, journalism, history, and geography. My grades improved in all my subjects, because I worked harder at my bad subjects and was relaxed and happy when studying my good subjects.
I found out later that Dale Carnegie endorses doing the hard tasks first, so at least I am in good company.
I still procrastinate over the dumbest things and I then constantly nag at myself to do them.
To try to stop this self-defeating behavior, I write master lists of all the things I need to do. I try to do the most onerous tasks first. Of course, my master list has grown to an unmanageable size do to my procrastinating. My master list includes everything that I need to do – from cleaning and shopping to writing blog posts.
I try to do things I dislike while doing things I enjoy – for example, I will give myself manicures (something I absolutely hate doing, but I can’t afford professional manicures on a weekly basis), I will polish silver, or I will exercise while watching TV shows that I like.
Sometimes I will set aside a whole day for doing things I hate – mostly cleaning. I especially hate dealing with and organizing paperwork. I just hate it. Paperwork seems to multiply like rabbits. I have had several legal and medical issues for the last few years and the paperwork engendered by these issues is enormous – filing cabinets stuffed with papers. I set the timer so I only have to do paperwork for about 30 minutes at a time, because if I do it much longer than that I literally start to have panic attacks. I actually start screaming.
Much of this paperwork is about negative things and makes me feel like an utter failure, so I don’t want to see it on a daily basis. I hate filing, so I have taken to organizing much of my paperwork in binders, especially old files that I keep for legal purposes but hate seeing in my filing cabinets. It’s actually much easier for me, and I don’t dread it so much.
The strangest thing is that I procrastinate doing the things I love to do! I am a professional writer, and yet I find myself constantly pushing off my writing projects. I don’t know why. I love to write. When I finally tackle the project I enjoy it. Is it because I am so self-critical?
The writing usually is well done when I am finished, so I do not know why I do this. I need to set enough time aside to do my writing projects properly, because I need to write rough drafts so that when I enter the editing stage I am ready. I am a relentless editor. I love editing my work. I tell myself to just write the damn thing and then I can get to the editing stage!
Written for Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop.