Monday, September 30, 2013

I don't know about you, but when I get overwhelmed, I start to make some pretty dumb decisions. Procrastination, for example. Instead of chipping away at the things on my list, I delay doing anything -- anything that involves actual progress toward a goal, that is. 

As you can imagine, that choice produces exactly the opposite of the desired effect. And much as I hate it, I have come to recognize that procrastination -- while perhaps more a bad habit than an actual decision -- is as much a part of my personality as my sarcasm and my tendency to overcommit just a tad.

The fear that accompanies procrastination is crippling. How will I get it all done? What if I don't? Or, worse yet, what if I do and -- after all that work -- it's terrible? And since it's fear that sucked me into procrastination in the first place, it's a pretty scary place to be.

I know what works -- I just don't do it. Baby steps work. Starting somewhere -- anywhere -- works. Making a list of what I have to do works, especially when I can follow it with the delightful sense of satisfaction that accompanies checking things off the list.

But when I'm really overwhelmed, even the thought of making a list is intimidating. Having all that stuff bouncing around in my head is bad enough. Seeing it all strung out, one item after the other, is more than I can bear. 

So, I put off making a list. 

Until the time comes when the stuff in my head is tripping over itself, and I can no longer keep track of what's there, let alone distinguish what's important from what's immaterial. Then it's time to wave the white flag -- or better yet, brandish a writing utensil and put it to a clean piece of paper -- and sort things out.

Sometimes, when I'm finished, I'm more overwhelmed than I was to begin with. More often, I feel a sense of lightness -- one that arises from not carrying all those to-dos around in my head. Usually, a logical starting point emerges and I tackle it with a renewed sense of energy and purpose because finally, I have a direction. A path out of the wilderness that is overwhelmed procrastination.

And each time, I ask myself the same question.

Now why didn't I do that in the first place?

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