One of the perks of being an introvert and spending so much (read: too much) time in one’s own head, is that you can’t help but end up with some semblance of self-awareness. This, coupled with my goal of writing every day (and thus having to find subjects to talk about), has kept me thinking. Especially about my Funks. In fact, I may have discovered one of my triggers.
Let’s call it Procrastination Creep. It often happens, that when I have a load of free time (like today), I start out with grand plans of how I’m going to Change The World (read: be productive), but those dreams quickly shatter on the cruel, sharp rocks of reality. Every time this happens it’s devastating. But it keeps on happening. Why?
Today was no different. I woke up today (after sleeping in, of course) with the intention of catching up on writing and finally adding things to the website I maintain. Next thing I knew, it was 11h30 and I hadn’t even gotten dressed. I started lamenting another bout of productivity lost to the Time Vortex (whether that productivity ever existed is a different argument), and started sliding into a Funk. But this time, I was lucky enough to notice my slide and stop it.
I got thinking about how this was not the first time I had gone through the same pattern. And I started to wonder if there was a common sequence to events, one that could be documented, and thus hopefully avoided in the future.
Now, I’ve had a problem with procrastination for quite a while, along with perfectionism. Like most “isms” (alcoholism, Catholicism), perfectionism is one of those things you never really get over; you’re always recovering. And I believe the two (procrastination and perfectionism, that is) are intertwined. After all, if you feel compelled to do a perfect job, how better to avoid feeling guilty about failing if you just don’t have enough time?
Here’s the sequence I’ve noticed:
- Set out to do something (whether self-motivated or by someone else’s request)
- Feel motivated
- Time passes (minutes, hours or days)
- Start to feel guilty about time passing
- Decide that enough time has passed, it’s not worth it to even attempt to start at this point
- Feel guilty
- Spend another day accomplishing “nothing”
- Feel guilty
Quite a bit of guilt in there, huh? I blame good ol’ fashioned Catholic Guilt paired with the Protestant Work Ethic that infuses so much of American culture. And I was on that path today: I had made it to about step 4, when I finally had the presence of mind to say “screw that noise.” As a result, I can feel myself swerving away, but my position is still precarious.
How to avoid this in the future? Well, the easy answer would seem to be to temper my expectations, but that’s easier said than done. I think the guilt that crops up is key: why is it there? Where did it come from? What can be done to stop it, and how hard will it be?
But those are questions for another time. I am open to suggestions, though.