As I was plastering a wall in our house yesterday, my husband said to me, “I don’t know how you get so much stuff done.” My best friend calls me “high activation.” I marvel at people who seemingly know me so well can see me so differently than I see myself.
Inside my own head, I get a small fraction of what I want to accomplish completed in my workday. I am sure I could get so much more done if I would just stop procrastinating. When my husband made the comment yesterday on how much stuff I got done, he didn’t know I was actually procrastinating that very minute, and that gave me this insight: The way I procrastinate is to do other, easier, low priority tasks. So, it appears I get a lot done, but I am not always getting the “mission-critical” tasks completed.
If I have a design due, I will procrastinate, sometimes all week. Designs are a regular part of my work, so this is terribly inconvenient for my workflow. Cleaning my house, getting my accounting up to the minute, and every fix-it project I can think up suddenly become urgent priorities. I have read that my brain might be working on these creative ideas while I do other tasks: This is possible but below my level of awareness. In twenty years as a mural artist, I haven’t given up the fantasy that if I could just get that creative heavy lifting done first my life would be so much easier, I would be carefree. Instead, I wake up Saturday mornings feeling like I need to make up for a workweek that was filled with unproductive detours.
Here is how I navigate procrastination:
There are certain things that I strictly don’t bring into my workday: Errands, TV, alcohol or pot, socializing. Because I have knocked out the major time wasters, I am left with less tantalizing ways to procrastinate, like naps, walks by myself around the block, or the doing the dishes.
What would happen if you just took the ways you procrastinate off the menu of your workday? Think of all the productive procrastinating you would get done. Either way, I probably am not going to send off that design until 4 pm on Friday or the last-minute deadline, but at least I can look forward to a clean house on Saturday.