I have a procrastination problem, where I keep on pushing off my work from one day to the next, to the next, to the next, until I realize that the item I pushed off for months on end, isn’t even relevant anymore. Yikes. I see it happening, but like a car accident that’s gone too far, I cannot prevent it, all I can do is watch it happen over and over again, in a nightmarish way. No matter what app I use or how many admonishments I give myself, I keep on doing this over and over again.
There are two reasons for it. The first being that a lot of these items I am pushing off aren’t important to me, or aren’t important in general. If I was able to push them off for months on end, without any ill consequences to me, that means they weren’t truly necessary tasks, but just something nice to do. This reason is important, but not as important as the second reason, which is that, I live under the illusion that I am going to live forever.
That is the only reason I would keep on pushing off my tasks over and over again to this illusionary land called tomorrow, where I am a different person who gets everything on her to-do list done. If I believed that I was going to live forever, and I have a hundred or thousand or million tomorrows at my disposal, I can move off my tasks to those tomorrows, and still get all of my work done.
We Will Always Have More To Do Than Time Available
Thus, I add on way more stuff onto my plate than I could ever in a million years complete. There is no way even if a day was 30 hours long or 50 hours long, that all of the stuff on my plate could ever be completed.
So I am putting them on there, hoping that if I complete even half the items on the list then I would feel accomplished in a way. That’s in theory. The horrible thing is that when I don’t complete all the tasks on my list, even though I knew I didn’t have enough time for it all, I admonish myself and berate myself. I insult myself, calling myself all the names in the book. Telling myself I’m lazy and good-for-nothing, and I’ll never amount to anything, I make myself feel terrible.
Every single day, this happens to me.
Instead of feeling good about completing the tasks on my to-do list, and feeling accomplished, I feel terrible, even though I did do a lot of things. Just not all of the stuff on my to-do list, my increasingly cumbersome and long to-do list.
Thinking over my predicament, I came up with three lessons that I come back to every single time I feel like killing myself with words, or feeling like a loser. I share them with you below.
The First Thing To Remember – We Are Human Beings, Not Human Doings
Whenever I become a true busy bee, running around from place to place, like a demon, I remind myself of this quote by Wayne Dyer, that says, we are human ‘beings’, and not human ‘doings’. Basically, we are not supposed to be running around all the time doing stuff.
I have found I get more ‘done’ when I sit around and let the universe help me out. Instead of running around and interfering in the grand scheme of things, it would be better for me to sit down. Do a meditation, and get ideas from the stillness. So many times, I have stopped myself from doing, sat down in a quiet space, and then had the answers. Not only that, but the work was done for me, by someone else, unknowingly and without any undue influence from me.
Let me give you an example.
I had to find a person to rent my apartment back home. Panic took over my body. I felt my heart rate quicken, my palms get all sweaty, and my brain go mushy. What if I didn’t find a person in time, my whole plan to move to Chiang Mai would be ruined? I would be destitute, and blah blah blah. My brain went into overdrive. I stopped myself. Took a deep breath. Did a couple of meditations. Calmed down. I got an idea to place an ad on one of the Toronto Facebook groups, and so I did. 24 hours later, I had the perfect (I mean perfect) tenant. We signed the contract a day later, and boom! My apartment was rented and I didn’t have to do anything for it. Except post it somewhere, which took a minute.
Doing vs. Being. Remember this, every single time your mind gets overwhelmed with thoughts of work, and to-do lists, and accomplishing more.
The Second Thing To Remember – We Will Not Live Forever
When I push off things to the future, I am saying two things. Firstly, this item isn’t that important to me, so I am pushing it off to some indeterminate time in the future, which probably means, it will never get done. Which tells me to either eliminate the item completely or re-evaluate how I can get it done right now, in the present moment. Secondly, my time isn’t valuable to me, and my future time is even less valuable.
And, I don’t really like you very much, so here’s a pile of work that my present self, I, was too busy or lazy to complete.
I’d like a hundred thousand tomorrows, please. Honey on the side.
Either way, whatever it means, I am pretending that I am going to have a hundred thousand tomorrows. I am going to live forever. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live forever in this form. I want to come back in different forms and try out different lives (as in reincarnation).
Also, I don’t know about the future, but for now, there is no real possibility to live forever. So let’s live by today’s standards, and realize that we cannot, and should not push our work to the future.
It’s not like our future selves are going to be sitting around with no work of their own. They will have more work piled on them, because they will be completing our bullshit agenda, and their own agenda. Too much for one self to do.
My advice: Eliminate rather than postpone! If you are thinking about postponing something, try to eliminate it altogether. It’s not that important, truly.
The Third Thing To Remember – We Can Be Busy Or We Can Be Productive
I have been realizing more and more that I prevent myself from thinking about the truly important questions about my life and business by staying busy. I’m busy doing a lot of nonsensical tasks, that are truly useless.
I spend hours making the most beautiful spreadsheets for my travel plans. Or, moving furniture around to be more conducive to my foot traffic. Or, deleting old emails or documents from my laptop.
I could go on and on about useless tasks, but you get the idea. These are all useless things I do in order to fill the time, and all of a sudden, it’s nighttime, and I haven’t done a single thing to move my life forward. But I was busy, oh so busy, a busy bee running around from place to place. I couldn’t have been busier.
Busy, but not productive.
Does that sound like you? I’m sure it does. Human beings have a really great capacity for bullshitting ourselves. I spend half of my work day telling myself lies. Lies that are keeping me from reaching my ultimate potential. Potential that I could reach if I could just see the truth in everything I do.
No, Shikha, you are not actually doing anything useful right now. Stop it and go write a blog post instead.
No, Shikha, you are not as smart as you think you are. You are actually being an idiot right now, go apologize.
No, Shikha, you are actually being a bitch right now. Go and tell the person what you truly feel, don’t just ignore them.
You get the idea. I think that’s why I meditate. In fact, I used to be much more delusional before. I lied to myself much more often before. But now, as I meditate, and I see the truth more and more, I find it hard to lie to myself as much as I did before.
When I am not being productive now, I can see myself doing that, and consciously choose to either spend the day doing nothing, or pull myself back into work mode.
Let’s Be Kind To Our Future Selves
In finality, I would like to remind us that we are not going to live forever, and our future selves would thank us to remember that. We can either do the work we want right now, or eliminate it from our list.
Let’s make it a non-negotiable. Let’s not steal from our tomorrows. Remembering that we do not have a hundred tomorrows, let’s live today and work today.