Tag Archives: procrastination

Being in the Right (Head) Place at the Right Time

26 Feb

How often does this happen to you?

After hours or even days of depression, procrastination and self-loathing, you finally find yourself with the energy and mood to do what you want/need to…but by then you’ve run out of time to do it. 

A couple cases in point, just from my last week:

At Work: (Not) Tackling a Mountain of Tasks

I spent one morning hungover (a story for another day) in meetings, struggling even to pay attention, let alone participate. Then a few more hours stressing over my workload, going out for smoke breaks and ruminating over my lack of productivity. 

Only when I had less than an hour left before I had to leave did I “snap out of it” and kick into the high gear I needed right after my morning meetings. In that last hour I got more done than in the previous eight…but I left with a mountain of unfinished tasks I promised myself I’d tackle over the weekend (not going well so far). 

At Home: Household Chores

Today I had the house to myself for five solid hours, and a manageable list of chores to go along with it. I spent half of it at the bar at the end of the street, and another hour watching Bill Maher, before doing the only productive thing I did all day – putting away a single hamper of already folded clothes. 

After another trip to the bar for a quick couple pints, and with 20 minutes before having to leave for my kid’s hockey game, it happened again. Only when I didn’t have the time to do it did I snap out of my rut and feel almost enthusiastic about tackling even the most onerous chores on my list. 

Sometimes it’s as if the only time I’m in the right mood to get something done is precisely when I don’t have the time to do it. 

What’s Your Secret?

I know I’m not alone so I want to hear your stories. And what I want to know just as much is, how do you align your mood with the time when you need it? 

Or…how do you end up in the right (head) place at the right time?

The power of discipline…and amphetamines 

22 Feb

Wow…what a difference a day makes. Where yesterday morning – especially anxiety-inducing following a long weekend – I felt a sense of panic, dread and gloom heading into work, today I arrived feeling…good. More than good in fact; I felt energetic, ambitious and optimistic about the day ahead. My to-do list is just as daunting, but I feel worlds better about tackling it today. 

So what changed? Not just from today but from prior experiences I can boil it down to three key things:

1. Discipline – I got up when my alarm went off. I ate breakfast. I made the kids’ lunches and got them off to school early. Before 9:00 I already felt productive which, as I’ve written on previously, I tend to equate with happiness and success (a topic for another post I’m sure). 

2. Doing Instead of Thinking – By getting up and “just doing it” I avoided my typical morning pitfall of overthinking things and getting caught up in my own mind. Most days I find myself drinking coffee (no breakfast) in front of the news and starting the vicious cycle of ruminating over my previous day’s shortfalls, feeling shitty about myself, procrastinating my start on the new day, and back again to ruminating. It’s true what they 

3. Vyvanse – It’s not a magic bullet, and it only works if I balance it with other coping mechanisms like the ones above, but this is the one drug that’s had an immediately noticeable impact on my mood. The test of whether it works for you: if it speeds things up and makes you hyper, you don’t need it, but if it actually slows things down to a manageable pace, it could be a perfect fit for you. 

Food for thought. Tomorrow…an update on what I’ve been up to for the last two years.

Cut a great bargain…with myself

11 Feb

Right off the top, let me say that I did not meet the expectations I set for myself last time I wrote, going on three days now. I did my writing in time but didn’t finish the cover letter.

By my own and no uncertain terms I was in my rights to declare the week a a failure. My inner critic was chomping at the bit and tempting old habits – like self criticism and sabotage – circled like vultures.

But I didn’t give in to temptation or my typically harsh judgement. I stopped.

Taking a page from Daniel Kahneman’s excellent bookThinking Fast and SlowThinking Fast and Slow, I stopped. To breathe, to find calm, to think rationally. I caught myself in time with three anchors of reason:

1) Life’s not black and white, all or nothing. Everything in life is painted shades of grey. Yes I missed one goal, an important one but immediately urgent only to me. What’s I tend to forget is that I met the other 80% of my goals and did even more. How can I give myself a failing grade? Would I judge someone else through the same harsh eyes? Bottom line….I give myself a solid B+.

2) This old catastrophizing, self-sabotaging habit of mine is a stubborn bugger. Getting past it, accepting what I did instead of dwelling on what I didn’t, even giving myself a pat on the back…these are precisely the things I need to learn how to do again. They pose the biggest, toughest challenges in my life right now.

3) Through smart choices, a healthy attitude and the right meds, I’ve been on a bit of a run lately. I’m taking all my meds, I’m doing more and I’m keeping myself busy all day long. B2C days (bed to couch) are rare when they used to be daily. It’s too easy for me to forget the progress I’ve made, big picture progress. I need reminding that my worst days now are better than my best days in December.

So there you have it.

Maybe I’m finally starting to learn how to appreciate myself as is…that, or I just bargained myself off the hook for putting off an increasingly urgent task that I’ve been avoiding for ages.

Procrastination or appreciation? Crazy or lazy…thoughts?

Snow day dumps 24″ of excuses on my day

2 Feb

It’s a new week. Monday just afternoon, well past my witching hour with little to show for it.

It was the snow that threw me off my game. Mondays of late have been fairly productive for me, giving me the comfort and freedom of solitude to plan out my week, even getting to my work before my 11:00 a.m. witching hour.

Two feet of snow dumped down overnight and both my wife and the boy are at home today. Without my solitude I missed my planning time, I let my wife get the boy’s lunch packed and off to school. I was out of the routine I’ve been working hard to maintain, and my witching hour seemed to come early today.

Normally I’d channel my inner Hemingway and write off the rest of the day. But today feels like it might be different. If I get out of the house, just maybe…

Did Hemingway inspire my very own witching hour?

29 Jan

First, an answer to yesterday’s question, did I catch my inner critic, and put my own inactivity behind me, in time to keep the day from being a failure? In short, yes.

But the yes came with a bargain; I continued to put off my main priorities (a single job application and a handful of personal letters) for another day, and rolled more than one more joint throughout the day, but I did make a fantastic dinner and spent some quality time with the boy in Call of Duty. I even cleaned up the kitchen afterward, including hand washing the half dozen pots and bowls with various caked on messes from the meal’s preparation.

Today I find myself in a similar situation and time, not long after my own personal witching hour, 11:00 a.m.

For the last few weeks, as long as I’m up and have my first coffee and meds before 8:00, I’m usually optimistic about the day’s prospects, even anticipating my wife’s pride in recognizing my day’s accomplishments. I can sustain these feelings too, for the entire day if I do things right.

I need to put serious work into one of my top priorities, and I need to be at it before 11:00. Immediately after that, my self-confidence and optimism for the day take a nosedive. I start to minimize, then write off entirely, my prospects of touching my main priorities for the rest of the day. My thoughts shift focus from all the time I have to be productive, to the limited time I have left to myself before the boy and my wife get home.

I describe these feelings as mental momentum, something I have to keep up before I hit my witching hour. If I keep my mind in motion on my priorities, I drive through it. If not, it’s the immovable object that puts me at rest.

Oh, and why 11:00? I think it’s because there’s still time to make the morning productive, so I can see something that’s come from the day being half over. But that’s not all; I’m fairly sure I’ve heard virtually the same sentiments expressed by a famous writer. Hemingway was known for doing his full day’s writing before 11:00, at which time he’d say, “Eleven o’clock. What the hell, it’s noon in Miami. Let’s have a drink.”

Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of Hemingway, but could he be my unconscious inspiration? And if so, is he inspiring my writing…or just my lifestyle?

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