It’s 3:16 pm and I have succeeded in accomplishing exactly one thing so far today.
I got up early (for me) intending to hit the ground running.
And then, a sudden emergency vet visit happened.
You see, my eldest cat, my beloved little soul mate, has a chronic condition which requires immediate attention when an episode occurs. This happens, unfortunately, quite often. In winter, it’s pretty much every two weeks. So, you’d think I would be used to it, the drill. But it throws me. Every single time.
The minute I see him in discomfort, I go head-on into Mama Cat mode, at once efficient, strong, and comforting to him, but on the inside...a puddle. An emotional wreck. Then the cortisol skyrockets and I stress to no end.
We have it down, really. He’s amazing. I swaddle him in warm fuzzy things, load him gently into his carrier, and off we go. He tolerates the chill of the car while the heat takes it’s time to kick in, sits patiently thorough a lengthy ride through the mountains, and remains Zen-like during the endless wait for our turn with our rockstar vet. While high-strung dogs bark and yelp, and their humans shout over them, my little man-cat is just so cool.
Then, after we’re done, he does the ride home seamlessly. In warm weather, I usually stop somewhere peaceful and gorgeous, and bring his carrier outside. We sit silently, as cats do. And the bond between us intensifies even more.
There is nothing I wouldn’t do for this guy. And for every precious moment we have.
But now I’m home, back in our toasty Lair, and as he rests, I dawdle. Big time. I’m shot from the morning’s journey. I can’t help it.
I sit down at my sunny kitchen table work altar, and try to focus.
The screen looks back at me, blankly. I feel scattered. I look out the window.
Wait...I think I need paper towels...
On with the boots, back out in the snow.
You get the picture.
I was talking to my Mom, who was having a similar form of understandable behavior - what I would call Legitimate Procrastination, where something out-of-the-blue freaky comes up, knocks you out, and annihilates your best intentions. She likes to distract herself by re-organizing her (already meticulous) cabinets, whereas I am wired for wanderlust, and the most insignificant errand becomes fascinating and suddenly time-sensitive to me when I am mentally floating and can't concentrate. We laughed at the lengths we will go to to distract ourselves from the task at hand, and it got me to thinking about stress, time management, and how we can make it all work for us. I've gathered my Top 5 Tips for getting back on track, and let me tell you, they work every time.
These tips rock for standard-issue Lazy Procrastination, also, so NO EXCUSES, my preoccupied Darlings!
(Don't make me have to discipline you.)
1. YEAH, WE KNOW, MAKE A LIST.
Sounds trite. But it WORKS. Here's the trick: make your list the night before. This helps in two ways. First, by organizing your priorities ahead of time you psych yourself up for the next day's plan. You're already thinking about it, visualizing, sending the energy out. And now, as you wind down for the night, you can let it go. No need to obsess. Second, you wake with a clear vision, and a built-in focus that's raring to go.
You've got your list. Now, break it into sections, like a grapefruit. Pick one larger task, or several smaller, and give them a time slot. Like on television. Your list make look something like:
- 9am - Get up, drink green shake, get dressed. Respond to emails.
- 10am - Noon - Write blog post
- 12-12:30 - Lunch
- 12:30-2:00 - Shoot photos
- 2:00-3:00 - Edit photos
- 3:00-5:00 - Work on script
- 5:00-6:00 - Make & eat dinner
This is a super-lax version of my day, but use it as a template to plug in your own projects, with feasible time frames. If you have things to do that continue into the night, keep going. It seems rigid, but it really does help to break up your time into sections this way. And, of course, if things take longer, or go quicker, you just adjust the schedule. While this is a lifesaver for the self-employed, it also works like magic for students, busy moms, creative projects, and things you want to avoid at all costs, like cleaning and organizing all of life's minutiae. You'll be amazed at what you can actually get done.
3. PARTNERS IN PROCRASTINATION
We all know someone who's in the same boat. Why not reach out and offer to help each other? Make a plan to check in several times per day, via text. For instance, "Ok, by noon I need to have my desk organized." Your buddy texts back, "Yep, I need to have a post written by then." You decide to check in with each other at noon, to report (ideally) that you've finished that task. Then you move on to the afternoon's list. Of course, you and your Procrastination Pal also act as cheerleaders for each other. When one person is having major resistance to something, they text the other for some prodding. You and your co-conspirators are helping each other to make dreams happen. How great is that?
4. IN-THE-MOMENT MOTIVATORS
The idea here is to have everything you need to get the job done right in front of you. For me, it's always music and a beverage, no matter what I'm working on. I make a playlist the night before when I'm compiling my next-day To Do list, with a focus on what kind of audio charge I'll need. Physical tasks? Fast and Loud. Writing? Ambient sounds.
The I make sure I have something delish to down during the process. Yummy teas, green juice shakes, waters flavored with essential oils...whatever keeps you going.
(And then, to officially let the games begin, I light my altar candle(s) for some extra mojo.)
I know some people who absolutely must have a vintage film running in the background to get working. Some, the white noise of a fave tv show they've seen a thousand times. Others require café sounds to generate a feeling of bustling excitement around them. I told my mother I was going to download an applause track, and hit it every time I accomplished something. (I was joking. Kind of.)
So, what motivates you?
5. WHO NEEDS A TREAT?
We do! Oh yes, like puppies, we all need a reward for our good behavior. A pat on the head. Just make it a healthy one, Beasties. For me. Please.
I finished this script...I do believe some coconut milk ice cream is in order here...
It doesn't have to be food or a cocktail. Maybe it's ONE cute animal video, five minutes of emailing a friend, ten minutes of playtime with your cat...anything that makes you feel good and gives you a little mental break. Stretch your sexy limbs, eat an apple, sing something. But enjoy it fully, lusciously...
Allright, Baby Dragons! Back to work!
You can DO IT!
(Cue applause track!)
And don't forget to Tweet me if you get stuck.
Of course, there's always my riding crop. Does that fall under the "Motivation" or the "Treat" category?
I love you!