The monkey on my back: Procrastination

Hello, my name is Amy and I procrastinate…

My name is Amy and I am a world class procrastinator. No, really, I will do anything to get out of what I am supposed to be doing: one of the best examples of this happened today when I cleaned my bedroom with an unrivalled enthusiasm instead of writing a blog post like I had promised myself I would.

I don’t know if I’ve always been a procrastinator. As a young kid around primary school age, I would always do my homework as soon as I got it, not because I liked homework but because I understood that if I got it out of the way first I could go on to do something fun. As I grew older, I became the polar opposite: I would do anything but the thing that needed doing, I would even do things I didn’t particularly enjoy doing to get out of doing the other thing, and now at almost 27 years old I am a veteran procrastinator.

In addition to my fastidious approach to procrastination I have anxiety and a serious fear of failure, all of which adds up to a very contradictory, constantly anxious, and stressed individual.

I have tried many approaches over the years to combat this hilarious combination of traits but so far I have not succeeded in kicking the habit. Procrastination remains one of my dearest and most familiar friends, even if he isn’t particularly friendly, helpful or good at all really.

Let’s use this blog as an example shall we? I spent all of April planning the launch in May, I had plans to have 30 posts ready to be scheduled and posted on their allotted days, but by the time April 30th rolled around, I had maybe 15 posts done, 5 of which I hated and haven’t even bothered posting. I had been so enthusiastic about this blog that I researched blogging platforms, social media strategies, and how to build the perfect Facebook page, and in the end all of that was procrastination. Granted, in this case it was useful procrastination and all very necessary work to make a blog happen but if I had had more posts written that I had loved and could be proud of, I probably wouldn’t have a moment of “Oh fuck, this is all too much” causing me to re-evaluate whether I can feasibly do 5 posts a week.

Even as I write that paragraph I began procrastinating by suddenly “remembering” I needed to update my twitter and find more blogs to follow on twitter. At least this time I can tell you why I procrastinated: in talking about how I procrastinate, I have to admit that I have faults and frankly no one wants to do that, but it’s important to admit that I am a procrastinator.

In examining my behaviour I actually think it’s highly likely I have ADD, because in between writing the past two paragraphs, I have checked both twitter and Facebook twice and changed the song on iTunes about 5 times. That in isolation could just be procrastination but it’s pretty much how I live my life, flitting from one thing to another. Nevertheless, I should hold myself accountable for the fact I have let my procrastination slide into the total inability to achieve set goals in a timely manner.

When it comes to setting goals, I can be very ambitious and I start off strong, doing all of the things I need to do in order to achieve and sometimes even surpass them, but slowly I find myself realising that I can’t possibly maintain the momentum I have set for myself and therefore I will inevitably fail, so instead of re-evaluating my goals, I do something else instead and literally think to myself “I’ll do that later,” I have done this so often that I don’t even realise I am doing it anymore. My standard operating procedure is to write a deadline down in my bullet journal, look at it everyday and think “I should really do that” and then not do it until the night before the deadline. That sums up the entirety of my university life too, for all but the first 2 weeks of freshman year.

I can’t help but feel I should be keeping a tally of how many times I have checked twitter, Facebook and my phone while I’m writing this, because it is getting a little ridiculous.

I have always been a master of setting goals, I have just never been particularly skilled at achieving those goals. As I said before, it could be that I over-estimate my abilities or the amount of work required to achieve a goal and therefore am setting myself up to fail before I even begin. Goals should be SMART:

  • S- Specific
  • M- Measurable
  • A- Achievable
  • R- Realistic
  • T- Time based/Trackable

And quite often, in hindsight I can look at goals I have set and laugh at how entirely unmanageable they are and how they were never going to be something I found myself achieving.

So, dear readers, all of this is to say: My name is Amy and I am a procrastinator, but I will not let it stop me from succeeding and I will do something about it… tomorrow.

No, seriously, starting tomorrow I am going to have a daily schedule, and I am going to blog about it and hold myself accountable to the schedule, myself and you. You can all leave comments if it looks like I’m slacking off.

Let’s all band together and fight procrastination.

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