procrastination notes

Posted: October 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

I track my meetings and a lot of my tasks at work on Outlook.  I depend on calendar reminders to get me there on time, to prompt me to ask for reports far enough ahead, to keep up the little daily tasks that can get lost under the wheels of the school bus of life…that sort of thing.  I don’t only keep work items in my Outlook – a lot of personal tasks are sewn into my work calendar as well. 

In addition to using Outlook, I have a calendar in my iPhone that talks to me.  And I set alarms, when I can feel that I’m at high risk for forgetting to do something later in the same day.  I write myself notes.  I send myself emails and texts.  I make up “procedures” sheets to help me remember what are appropriate time lines for many of the tasks I do regularly.  It all makes me miss the passage of life when my daughter still lived at home and I would say to her continuously, “Don’t let me forget to do x,” and she never missed a beat.  She was better than Outlook, because she actually spoke, prodded, stood in front of me until I paid attention.  The little chiming reminders are easy to bypass when I am in multitasking mode. 

When I hear one of those little Outlook alarms and I’m very busy, often I will take a second to look at it, and then hit the “snooze” function, which tells it to remind me again in awhile.  Sometimes I tell it to come back in an hour.  Sometimes I tell it to come back in a week. 

This afternoon, I was scrolling through those reminders, dismissing the ones that are done and starting “snooze” for the ones that needed more time.  I got down to the bottom of the menu – the item I have snoozed the most times. 

Know how long I’ve been hitting snooze on it?  Well, it’s 53 WEEKS overdue. 


In other words, I didn’t get it done at this time LAST year, and now it’s due again for THIS year, and I still haven’t touched it yet.  It’s a little personal item, not a work task, so it is easy to keep hitting snooze on it.  But seriously!  I need to, as the less delicate among us may say, s*^t or get off the pot, eh? 

I wish that one task was the ONLY thing I’m 53 more more weeks late on.  It is not.  There is a rolling list, way in the darkest, furthest back, most cluttered regions of my mind that resurfaces from time to time – usually in the middle of the night, or while both hands are full with another task.  It pipes up and reminds me of things I have been meaning to get done.  Things that NEED to be scheduled.  Things that are now way overdue to the point of neglect or embarrassment. 

Yesterday I worked my way through a webinar at work entitled “Strategies to Manage a Chaotic Workload.”  It was pretty unremarkable, but it did remind me of some things that needed refreshed in my head and in my practices.  There was really only one point made that wasn’t already 100% familiar to me, and that was about procrastinating.  The speaker pointed out that procrastination drains energy, because you’re not just “not doing it,” you’re RESISTING as well.  You’re redirecting your energy in all sorts of other directions and fighting guilt and productivity is suffering for it.  She suggested this radical-to-me idea:  when you are suffering with procrastination, stop and GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION NOT TO DO THE TASK, if that is an option, whether that means passing it off to someone else, rescheduling it to a later date, or just letting it go completely. 

That made me immensely uncomfortable, at first thought.  Permission not to do it?!  Isn’t that QUITTING??  My friend who sat with me at a recent baby shower, cackling and crowing, “Type A!  Type A!” as she watched me stowing the find-a-word puzzle in my purse, determined that I WILL finish it, sooner or later, would testify that I don’t quit.  You who have come through 287 days of my promise to write every day in 2013 will perhaps testify that I don’t quit (even though some days, what I write should perhaps not be counted as writing!)  If my favorite colossal hills in the QC could speak, they would tell you that Karen on foot, or Karen on a bike…she doesn’t quit. 

But then…isn’t failing to do something for MORE THAN A YEAR a kind of quitting?  Wouldn’t saying, “I’m not going to do it, at least at this point,” be a more honest response than 52 continuous weeks of hitting “snooze 1 week”?   More honest than good intentions combined with dragging feet?

I’m still wrestling with this one.  I don’t have it worked out.  But it’s an interesting notion.  I will continue pondering, praying, listening…and see what changes might be in order, based on this new bit of information.

Pray for me, my fellow procrastinators…I am praying for you.  Now, and not only later!   

  1. Me says:

    Karen, This piece spoke to me so strongly. Not that I have even half the things to get done as you do, but the memory failure is a MAJOR issue for me. I, too, use alarms, timers, smart phone reminders for daily, weekly, monthly, even yearly events. One would think that those things that I must not forget (picking grandchildren from school!!) would be implanted in my brain with strong, deep roots! But, no, I have learned that this brain has become a sieve not a steel trap for information!! We develop coping mechanisms. For me, this means LISTS! I must remember to make those notes and lists at the time and not wait until to do it; the reminder to remember will be forgotten!!!! Sent from my Motorola Smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!

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