Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Behind The Times

I am a procrastinator. I have read a dozen books on the subject. I have had counseling about it. I have tried all sorts of home remedies to get things done. Nothing so far has helped. And yet I get allot of things done. I can put out a prodigious amount of work. But not unless I am under the gun time wise. I suffer.

Yesterday was a watershed day. Everything I had put off for days, months and years all demanded to be finished. Immediately. I crumbled. I haven't thought about suicide in years, but yesterday the pointlessness of my person came clear to me. (I am sure the killings in Virginia had something to do with this.) I was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I needed and wanted to do and had put off. I was disgusted with my lack of discipline. I love discipline. The people I admire most are disciplined. I don't like them, but I admire them.

Small stuff that would take no time at all I am not getting done. The house is dirty. The laundry unfinished. The bills and finances are in disarray. We are out of toilet paper and cat food. I am eating sugar free raspberry jam and fat free yogurt at every meal because I don't want to cook. Mark is getting fast food. I am being crushed by the sheer volume of useless stuff we own. We need a new mattress, computer, glasses, teeth capping and a rake. We have the money for all of it. I think... I haven't balanced the checkbook in a coon's age. No checks are bouncing anyway. But I can't seem to get off the dime and purchase any of it. I am behind in my correspondence and phone calls. This writer thing will never happen unless I actually write something. But to write I need to clear off the desk, buy a computer, find a desk chair, put away the boxes in the office, download crap I have written from Mark's computer to an as yet non-existent new computer, learn how to burn CD's or find disks...Gott In Himmel. All I want to do is navel blog.

So, time. Summer is approaching. Relatives and friends are reserving rooms. Time pressures usually motivate me. And I signed up to host some church sponsored revolving dinner party. Fear should be prodding me to action. Wouldn't want anyone to see dirty house, unpacked boxes or leaf covered lawn. Very embarrassing to get shut off notices for lights because of unpaid bill. Cats look like walking fur balls because I am not brushing them, have to hide cats. Will begin to gain weight on diet of fast food and sugar free jam. But I am not moving. I was/am a mess.

Am I depressed? I sure have all the signs and symptoms. I don't think so. I think...perfectionism has just pummeled me into inertia. Again. Remember my motto, "If a thing is worth doing it is worth doing well." Bul-l-l-l-shit. I am "welling and shoulding" my self into a self induced early grave. I can't just do a little of something, I have to go at it like I am killing snakes. And I expect the results of my efforts to be spectacular. Perfect in fact. Who can attain perfection? No one. Yet that is what I expect of myself. Is it any wonder I put things off? Okay, I actually knew all this a long time ago but head knowledge is not enough. I don't need another plan or motivational speech or time constraint, I need deliverance.

Today I got up and gave my perfectionism and procrastination to God. "I can't control this. You will have to do it for me. Please help me. Amen." I then did not know what to do next. My mind again began to swirl with all the stuff I needed to do. "What now God?"
"Go brush your teeth he said. And don't think about anything other than teeth." Okay I brushed my teeth, now what.
"Make the bed. Only think about making the bed." Check, bed made.
"Take out chicken for supper." I had to go thru exercise cum store room to get to freezer. I stopped to clear off a shelf. "Chicken," God yelled, "just chicken." Check, chicken done. What next?
"Iron two shirts and two pair of slacks." Began ironing, and thinking of all the waiting work. "Turn on some music," God said, " and listen to the words. Don't think." Check, Frank Sinatra, no worries.

This went on all morning and is in fact still going on. "Okay now is the time to blog. Start writing." Check.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea


daisyk said...

Oh, Bea, I laughed & suffered through this post!

I've been thinking for a while about "181" & it seems as if you've answered that little conundrum with your answer to procrastination: hand it over. Iron shirts, don't eat devil's food cake: check & check...

Slowly the other stuff will come.

My house is a wreck as well. My excuse (& of course I don't have a Mark & I do live w/ dogs, who PREFER my unshowered state) is something Dick Hugo used to paraphrase Hemingway as saying: if you knew you were going to die in your seleep, what would you want to have written today?

It doesn't always translate to other things -- if I knew I was going to die in my sleep I can't say I'd give a rat's ass whether it was abstinently or not abstinently. But it might be a helpful thought when it comes to laundry vs. bathroom.

You can see where my filth is piling up...

Charity said...

I suffer from procrastination to...after reading your post today I blogged about it to. Thanks for sharing. It is nice to know I am not alone.

Debra said...

Your conversation with God reminded me of an Easter many years ago when a friend of mine had people coming over for Easter dinner. She takes perfectionism to the nth degree and had taken off two days to clean, shop and cook for this feast, but it was the night before and nothing had been done, she was in a full fledged panic and she called me. We talked about various alterntives (go to a restaurant, order in, cancel), none of which satisified her. So, I said, just open a can of tomatoes. So, she hung up, opened a can of tomatoes, cooked and cleaned all night and had a wonderful time. She tells me to this day that whenever she finds herself resisting the task list, whatever it is, she thinks, just open a can of tomatoes. As you proved, just taking one step can lead to another and another.

Beula said...

A body in motion tends to stay in motion. I feel freer today but it is a struggle. I keep panicking and then have to pray, "What is the very next step God?" I don't dare think ahead. I am just doing the next step. I can tolerate the moment, but no further. This is a radical departure for the listed organized planner in me. I am sitting on her. Thank God I am still fat and can squash her flat!

Shauna said...

such an interesting post! I find my procrastination all tied up with my perfectionism which is completely knotted up with shame. (what a mess!)If I don't ever start, then I can always pretend that when I DO start, it might be perfect...ha. I too find some help in doing "just the next thing". I so enjoy your writing!!

Cindy174 said...

I had a conversation about gifted children not long ago with an education official - he talked about about procrastination and its relationship to perfectionism, and perfectionism being a trait of the gifted. So, lets just say we procrastinators are are all gifted. Lack of organization is another trait. So I think this all means we are fabulous, really. I am sticking with that theory. I like the tiny steps approach. To think of all the tasks outstanding and try to pick the one to do can keep me in bed all day with the covers over my head. I usually hit the ones I can get through the fastest and easiest for a while, and get the high priorities. But having God direct you is the finest approach of all. Thank you so much for posting about it.

Beula said...

Cindy you are a hoot. I don't just put things off, I am gifted! This definitely works for me.

minx said...

Oh my goodness, the perfectionism. Yes. I let out a massive sigh of relief and commiseration when I read the line "pummeled into inertia by perfectionism", and then I thought about writing about the same thing too and decided to put it off because it wouldn't be as good as yours. (So, see? I get it!)

I've never before considered the idea of just doing something, thinking ONLY of that something and then moving on to the next thing. My days are a study in inefficient multitasking because I can't stop myself from daydreaming one, two, forty hours in the future long enough to do a task correctly the first time. I think you've absolutely pinpointed the problem...that maybe so much of depression for a lot of us is just unchecked worry about doing it perfectly.

I'm so glad I found this lovely blog. Don't despair too much--at some point even the most petrified perfectionists among us get tired of jam and yogurt.