“Why can’t I seem to catch up?” We ask that of ourselves a lot.
When I go to bed, deciding that I’ve given it all I had for the day, and tomorrow we’ll get more done. When I lay in bed in the morning wide awake, not wanting to get up because the day looms and I don’t know where to start. When I do get up but follow down rabbit holes which yield no results. And carry the cycle for another day.
I heard about the idea that we often don’t get tasks accomplished for the reason of feeling like we need to complete everything once started. The undertaking at hand is daunting so we don’t start knowing that we don’t have either the time, information, or fortitude to carry through to completion. It has more to do with ego than anything else and seems to affect me quite a bit. I like completing things, that ‘in-basket’ mentality to my day. Ending with a sense of, look what I accomplished today. To avoid starting, I’ll find all the little things that need to get done beforehand. Laundry needs to be folded first, that’s a good one for completing a task and looking at it. Cleaning the garage including blowing off workbenches and sweeping every crevice so that the job I need to complete can just mess it up again. All excuses, things that don’t really need to get done now. But they are accomplishable, comfortable, in the realm of the familiar. But completing those things we get to fool ourselves to believe we had a productive day. When in reality, we just put off for tomorrow what needed to be done. I’ve got to get into my head that a task started is a hurdle cleared and the first step on the way towards completion.
In a contradiction of sorts, I’ll say that I don’t like to complete some projects to avoid accepting that it’s just not as good as I would have liked. By not finishing, when someone looked at my work I could point to a flaw and say that I was still working on it and that would be; better, fixed, cleaned up…. All false. I just couldn’t face the fact that I was at my limit of ability. And you know what? That would still be better than most, work I should be proud of and something no one would likely notice if I didn’t point it out. I recently decided to take this concept seriously and give it a try. I worked on a big project, a custom camper topper for my Tacoma. Designed and built by me. I not only let the flaws be what they were but also am using it with details incomplete. Reason why? I made this to ski and camp with my son. Not as an homage to my skills or a glamour project. I’m not going to spend one extra minute that will keep me from using it with him. And I don’t care what anyone thinks…. But if I did? They think it’s pretty cool. (-;
But those are two project-based thoughts…. The worst of it is the tasks. Starting tasks.
I’ve put things off so long that if this task requires interaction with a person I’m embarrassed to face them. Creating this insane cycle that just keeps running, picking up more stress as it moves along. Getting to the point where even if there was an out that door has closed. Simple things, how many items do you have to return sitting in your garage or closet. It’s now too late; you’re stuck. But that’s the toughest for me, facing people. The one that requires me to simply pick up a phone and face the person on the other line. To lay it out there, be honest and deal with it now. It’s going to come to a point where you have to face it so do it now, don’t wait…. Says the guy literally with stuff on the shelf right now. And by the way? I’m not just talking about bills or disagreements. I’m talking about connecting with friends and family…. This shouldn’t even be in the task category yet here I am talking about it.
And what does that inaction do? It leads to more. It gets easy when you can ignore for another day the big tasks, the small ones are child’s play. And while all this time-wasting is going on? What’s happening around you? Life! And life is bringing more things that will need your attention. So now “you can’t catch up”. But it’s not catching up that is the problem. The problem is you delaying and ignoring. If you hadn’t burned a bunch of time figuring out how to not do what needed to get done? You’d be ready for the next day.
I’m going to start small. It’s not a war that needs to be won but a series of battles. There is nothing wrong with confessing to those you’ve avoided that you are ready to move beyond this. There should be pride in simply undertaking a project or task. And maybe push through for another half hour after the kids go to bed and before a nightcap. And put your feet on the floor when the alarm goes off at 5:00. You set it 90 minutes before everyone else gets up just so you could ‘get some stuff done’… Do it, you’ll feel better about yourself. My wife likes to say right speech leads to right action, and I agree. Well, action leads to more action. So get to it. Pick something hard and just make the effort. It won’t be worse than the weight it carries in the back of your mind.