“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” — Christopher Parker
I was the queen of procrastination because I felt I deserved it. I was successful, hard working and consistent, but I also consistently let myself down daily.
I would create these ridiculous lists: goals for the day, week, month and year.
I would always only complete a third of each list and I grew frustrated. I tried to see the positive, that I was still accomplishing some of my goals, but I wanted more. I wanted to be more consistent.
“Procrastination is the thief of time.” — Edward Young
I have started to become more consistent by not focusing on tomorrow, but only on today.
I only think about the day at hand, as though my life will disappear tomorrow. It is weird, but it works.
I focus on eating right, getting my work done and being as nice as possible, today, and not even giving tomorrow a moment’s thought.
“My biggest regret could be summed up in one word, and that’s procrastination.” — Ron Cooper
I am still working at this, but here are a few things which have truly helped me stay focused:
I meditate daily.
I know, I know, everyone talks about meditation and you are sick of it, but listen! I am not the hippie dippie type, but when I meditate all of my stress becomes so trivial. I worry minimally, if at all, about my upcoming presentation or chairing a meeting. I just focus on doing the best I can and realize that this is a blip in life; if I stutter in a meeting, who really cares?
“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand — and melting like a snowflake.”-– Francis Bacon
I eat really well, as best I can.
I really try to focus on not comforting myself through food. I am a huge food lover, but some days, I let things fall and become a maniac. I consider it an impromptu cheat day and through caution to the wind. I end up overeating and hating myself. I am stopping this and if I eat a muffin at ten in the morning, it is not a reason to throw the whole day away. I no longer justify my wrongs of today by promising that tomorrow will be better. I only have today to think about, so I cannot throw ‘healthy eating’ onto a future to-do list.
I am nice to my partner.
It can be so easy to come home and be ruthless. Yelling and being mean for no real reason, other than the comfort that this person is your person and you can. It is a terrible way to see your significant other. I no longer do this and have started practicing patience. Instead of keeping my arsenal loaded, with all the nice things I have done for my partner and they have not done for me, I just focus on the day.
I will be nice today and if they are having a bad day, that is there shit to deal with. I am not a doormat, by any means, but I am also no longer Cruella De Vil, doing whatever I damn please to get whatever the hell I want.
I spend one hour making a real connection with someone else.
This might be over a work meeting, a coffee, lunch, phone call or What’s App voice message, but I make one real connection with someone else. I find that this brings real joy into my life. Instead of waiting for the weekend, to have ‘fun,’ I am making room for enjoyment in each day.
Since I only have today and tomorrow has disappeared, I cannot ‘save’ all of my fun for Friday and I am having more fun in all aspects of my life.
I leave when the event is done.
I no longer stay around at work, trying to show how busy I am. If I am done the work I planned to do, I go and start the next project. I no longer am trying to prove my worth to others because if my boss, colleagues or others are questioning my worth or work ethic they should talk to me about it and if they don’t, that shit is on them.
I write each and every single day, but I do not post all of it.
In August, I scheduled to write twenty Medium articles for the entire month. I did not make the most money I had ever made on Medium and it is actually the months where I wrote less, but more meaningfully that I earned a higher income.
Clearly I am not here to get my bread and butter from Medium, but I do like getting an Americano or two from my work. I am writing less this month, with no clear number of entries I plan to submit and I know what I submit will be more meaningful, because I am not trying to fill some unassigned personal quota.
Write and share what is worth sharing, and not every random thought that enters into your mind.
I listen to audio books.
I use to think of audio books as cheating, but some days, I never got around to actually sitting down with a book and reading for thirty minutes. Listening to an audio book has really increased my daily reading levels and I no longer see it as cheating.
I have done some research on the subject, which has released the guilt I felt for not actually reading and am now consuming and completing many more books monthly. I am getting smarter by working smarter and not harder. No one cares if you listen or read the book; you are reading to increase your own intelligence…I don’t really know who I am or was trying to prove my worth to, by doing everything the hard way.
I sleep well and more.
I use to take it as a badge of honour that I did not sleep a lot. I use to and can function on six or five hours of sleep, but is that a good thing? I am now making sure to set my alarm for eight hours a night. It has been uncomfortable, but I am a much happier, less caffeinated person because of it. I need to respect sleep and value it more. I need to get off of the train that ‘you can sleep when you are dead’ because it is just not healthy.
I am easier on myself.
I am a full-time university employee, I am a part-time graduate student, taking two evening classes, I am a partner, an aunt, a friend, a daughter and many other titles. All of these roles come with responsibilities and I cannot work all the time and neglect my loved ones.
Instead of being too busy to spend time with my loved ones, I now incorporate other aspects of my life into said time. I go for a walk with a friend. I share a meal with my family. I watch television with my partner.
It is easy to incorporate a social life into a busy schedule, when you are not so busy justifying why you do not have the time to see someone.
I no longer drink.
This is a tough one, but one that works. If today was actually our last day on earth, would we choose to drink? An older version of me would have emphatically said, ‘Hell yes!’ but the more I think about it, the less I believe that.
Being alcohol free really allows you to experience all of your emotions and it makes life much more real. It can feel like you are being a square and I do, from time to time, but I am more of myself. I am no longer numbing myself after a hard day of work, a bad conversation with a sibling or just because many nights of the week.
I no longer see a glass of wine as a prize, because I no longer have a tomorrow I can commit to correcting my night of stupor mistakes with; I only have today, so I simply do not have the time to waste drinking it away.
It might seem simple, you might already know and be doing all of the things I have stated here, but for me it has been glorifying eye opening.
I am no longer working for the weekend, overly stressed, over minimally important things, and am not using myself as my own personal punching bag.
“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” — Mason Cooley
What I am realizing is that life and society have been constructed to make us worry about tomorrow too much.
Society has conditioned us to throw away today, with the promise of a better tomorrow.
Marketing makes it easy to choose the easy road and not the hard road, because it feels like everyone else is doing it. Focus on the hours you have today, before your head hits the pillow and not on tomorrow. Do not promise that you will be a better version of yourself tomorrow, because if you do not like who you are, why would you not change immediately?
If your house had a small smouldering fire in it, you would not wait to douse it out until you had a raging, roaring fire, infiltrating each room of your house; you would dump a cup of water on the embers and make sure the fire is out.
We do not do practice the same level of precaution with our own lives. We allow small fires to become forest fires and then try to use a cup of water to wash them away, knowing that cup of water will do nothing. Do not wait for your life to get out of control before you try to fix it; get the water ready, before the fire even starts and be prepared.