What’s not to love? The alarm signalling the start of another week of newness. The opportunity to begin afresh. Perhaps akin to a New Year on an ultra minute scale. Unlike the New Year, I do make resolutions for the week. As for this week, I have made a promise to myself, and to my husband, that I shall be productive and I will absolutely, definitely not procrastinate.
With the exception of house or anything baby admin, for which I’m the proud owner of Excel spreadsheets, I’m one of those people that hoards ‘To-Do’s’. I get so caught up in the catharsis of making the To-Do list, and smugly revelling in my productivity at its creation, I don’t quite get around to its completion. To make matters worse, and in my bid to procrastinate further, I’ll often (whilst aiming to tick an item or five off my list) contemplate why I’m such a procrastinator*, and/or watch a vlog on ‘being a more productive human’, and ‘living your best productive life’ amongst other obnoxious titles.
Consequently, thanks to past Georgia, this last weekend has been one of overwhelm (on my part), and shock (on Rich’s part): ‘You have items on here dating back months’. Actually Rich, a year. Maybe two. And sadly, I was more caught up in revelling in his underestimation of my disorganisation (I blamed his puritanical indignation), than in (rightfully) owning my own shame.
Nonetheless, there’s nothing like a 10 week (and a bit) countdown to the biggest life changing event to stimulate even the laziest of us to start hitting life admin like no tomorrow. I mean, what’s the likelihood I will be any more likely to tick these items off when I have a squawking baby in tow?! Therefore, and despite the physical and mental pain I am expending in addressing them, I am doing just that.
In case you’re also struggling with procrastination, and you too despair of advice like ‘create a fake deadline’ or ‘find an accountability partner’, here are some tips which make ticking off that To-Do list semi-bearable:
(1) Create an exhaustive list.
That means everything you need to do is in one place. I’ve only recently started using the reminders app on my iPhone (thanks Rich). Rewind a couple of months, I had lists spread across ripped sheets from notebooks, in my phone notes, in Word docs, Excel sheets…Needless to say this is/was a quick-fire way to losing sight of the scale of your problem. N.B. In contradiction to how it might seem, I’m not inherently disorganised. Rather I’m all or nothing, and for a long time I’ve been all nothing…
(2) Ensure your list is realistic.
Will you really send thank you cards a month post-Christmas? Accept you’re an ungrateful recipient, you’re unlikely to receive a gift next year, and move on. So I wasn’t guilty in this regard, but there were tons of ridiculous items on my list, and Rich (despite my protestations) was right in questioning whether they a) warranted a spot on the list, and b) the mental energy I was expending on them. ‘Paint nails’ and tasks from 1.5 years ago certainly didn’t, and so I painfully removed them.
(3) Ask your people for help.
My parents and Rich are now the proud owners of some of the tasks. After all, we all know you must share. This tip will especially appeal to the
dictatorial natural leaders among us.
(4) Mentally note (or set a reminder for a specific time…a far more aggressive way of tackling those tasks!) each evening before bed, which items you will address first thing in the morning. Emphasis on first thing. You must face them head-on when you’re fresh, and semi-raring to go for the day.
(5) Switch up your environment.
This works for digital life admin only. Not so well for tasks like cleaning the house! If you’re a coffee tyrant like me pre-pregnancy, find a coffee shop and deposit yourself and laptop in a comfy seat, where high on caffeine you can pretend you’re having fun ticking off those tasks.
(6) Costs and benefits shake-up.
Ensure the benefits to you of completing your To-Do’s outweigh the costs. On a most basic level, consider rewarding yourself as you go. One item, one cookie…or perhaps if your procrastination has been as acute as mine, you’re better sticking to something non-food based.
(7) Tip for the future: If a task takes less than 5 minutes, do it immediately.
Don’t even add it to your list. I’ve spent triple the time needed on simple tasks because they’re so old that I have to search my addled brain for what they’re in reference to, and/or locate the necessary documents hidden way back (amongst junk mail) in my inbox.
(8) If all else fails, accept you won’t do it, and stop wasting energy beating yourself up over it!
I’m sure if you started this article wondering why the title, you’ve probably figured out by now, that yes, I procrastinated in my writing of this post until Tuesday. As you can tell, it’s a long road ahead for me, and my procrastinating way!
Oh, one last tip: don’t be tempted to read self-help guides on addressing life admin. These are the ultimate in procrastination. Incredibly, I found I had to physically prise myself away from the below.
*Such contemplation is never wise when you’re prone to obsessive introspection. Although, just in case you’re interested, I’ve narrowed it down to (a) stress…doing the items makes me feel stressed?!, and (b) perfectionism…I want to complete the items ‘just so’, and wait for the ‘perfect’ moment. Because of course, everyone needs to achieve perfection in mundane tasks like ‘sorting pension’…