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Procrastination, Musings About
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Some things I do right away, without any hesitancy or delay. Other things I really don't want to do because they're messy or dully repetitive. But there's a third category, the one that produces the most inclination to procrastination, and that category consists of tasks which send my anxiety level up, up and away.

The things I do right away are either fun or out of the ordinary--or are a response to an emergency. When the smoke alarm battery dies and the ear-splitting smoke alarm goes off right over my head, I run for the ladder immediately and fix it.

When the cats yell that they are on the brink of death by starvation how could you be so cruel, I bestir myself and feed them.

The second category, messy and/or repetitive stuff, stuff that can be put off, is harder to explain. Why don't I just get up and do it, get it out of the way?

Because, I tell myself, it won't hurt anything if I don't sweep the floor today; I can do it tomorrow morning. The pile of laundry to be sorted can wait another day, so what. The kitchen counter isn't really that cluttered....

The word "cras" in Latin means "tomorrow".

The way I deal with this kind of procrastination is to set up external rules, pretty silly and arbitrary, really, to get me up and going about my tasks. These rules reinforce what I know I want to do or must do.

One of my favorites is the "Rule of Two". If there's something to be done downstairs, like turning off the heater, I may put it off. But if I can think of two things I need to do downstairs, then I have to get up and do both. End of debate.

Or I may impose limits, the way I did yesterday. I had a list of six tasks which had to be done to prepare for the work week: laundry, preparing brown bag lunches, grocery shopping, etc.

The way I got them done painlessly was to allow myself to read a chapter from Bill Bryson, At Home, after the completion of each task. No work, no reading, an arbitrary rule, a voluntary giving up of my freedom to just blow it all off (and regret it come the next work day).

The hardest is the procrastination produced by anxiety. That takes a lot of self-talk, reminding myself of the severe repercussions if I don't get my act in gear (again, external sanctions apply). Much harder to do, to deal with the task and the anxiety at the same time.

But in the end, the act is together, and taken on the road.

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