The Bad Stuff

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Yesterday, Tuesday, marked the end of my “weekend.” My two days off are actually chock full of other things to do. I sometimes think I’d be better off with no days off, as I’d at least have a good reason for the things I don’t manage to get done. According to a series of questions presented in Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before, I am an “Obliger.” That means I meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations I impose on myself. Other than my chronic lateness (a hint of the rebel, perhaps?), and this blog (the ONLY self-imposed expectation that I successfully manage!), that rings absolutely true to me.

If I worked for others every day of the week, I’d have less time for my own obligations, expectations and goals, but also less guilt, less angst and less disappointment in myself. But no, I work five days a week at the hardware store. I make lists of things I need to get done and want to accomplish on my days off. I start with the best of intentions. Then I start – by turns – wasting time, procrastinating, bargaining, and running around “like a chicken with her head cut off” (as my Mom used to say) trying to make progress in every single area. It almost never works.

Wasting time involves one extra cup of coffee while I just relax (“don’t I deserve a few moments to just relax?” I ask myself). I may work on a crossword puzzle, play a game of on-line Scrabble, or read a few pages of one of the books I have in-progress. It might include taking time to fix a real breakfast, or starting a pot of soup or a batch of bread. It could be going off on a cleaning or organizing spree that is not even on the list. Cleaning out the junk drawer or weeding a flower bed never holds as much appeal as it does when it is done in avoidance of some other necessary task!

Procrastination is the worst. It is the mastermind behind every bit of wasted time and diverted energy. Jack Heffron writes:

What a great word: procrastinator. All of those crashing consonants. The Procrastinator sounds like the name of a comic book supervillain. This guy should be kicking Spiderman’s butt all over New York.

He’s not, though. He’s right here at my house. He can convince me, over and over again, that I will manage to get things done, no need to push myself, no need to hurry. “There is plenty of time.” I always fall for it.

Then bargaining comes in to play.

“I’ll work outside – since the sun is shining – for one hour only, and then I’ll crack down and get my computer work done.”

“Twenty minutes of housework and then twenty minutes in the studio.”

“I’ll write on article, then take the dog for a walk.”

Which leads right into running around like a chicken with her head cut off!

Everything takes longer than the time I have allotted for it. Everything suffers from lack of concentration and dedicated energy. By the time Tuesday evening rolls around, I am discouraged, frustrated and often in a frenzy. This clearly does not work for me. I suffer for it. Yet here I am, two more days gone, not enough done.

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