First Things First

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I try to clean up. Whether it's my desk at work, or our home, or the kitchen – after a cooking session that makes me look like I employ similar preparation techniques to the Muppets' Swedish chef.

Life is messy and chaotic, but cleaning up at least gives me a tiny, if temporary, moment of calm to feel like I can face a difficult task head on.

Lately I've been giving myself a hard time that I'm not working on my book proposal. Or more accurately, completely re-working my book proposal which I first wrote nearly two years ago (how did the time go so fast?). I had an idea late last year on how to make it more interesting (hopefully) but haven't done any actual work on it, let alone get started on some sample chapters.

I've had some good excuses, the biggest being planning our wedding, which was a pretty time-consuming task. But now that it's over and I've done the most important post-wedding admin task – thank-you notes – what's the problem?

I've been thinking about this a lot, mainly during my 'thinking time' – my walks to and from the train station. Like most problems, or should I say challenges, you sometimes have to let them simmer for a while before what is bothering you, or blocking you, rises to the top and presents itself.

Thing is, although I would like to get started on the book stuff, there are a lot of admin things hanging over my head, including many that I put off when I was planning the wedding. And I feel like they're cluttering up my brain. Now I know that life will always be filled with red tape, so it's impossible to get to the point that it's all done, but there is something to be said for getting projects completed. As I've pointed out before (in my post Making Peace With Red Tape) clearing away the clutter does leave room to focus.

There are some things that I really should have never put off, like buying some smoke detectors for our flat. (Please don't yell at me – this means you, Mom! Your new son-in-law could also be held to blame.) Other than said anti-death-wish tasks, there are some projects that although not totally necessary, their completion would probably make me feel calmer. Like finally getting that external hard drive and backing up all my photos. There are also a lot of things I'd like to do to promote this blog that I've been putting off too (see my addendum below). 

It's probably a good idea to give myself some deadlines, just to make sure that these little admin tasks don't take years. The point is to tackle them head on to make room for more creative and exciting stuff, not to just procrastinate. Ah yes, and I should probably put to use some of those good techniques I learned in the Procrastination Equation. Especially acknowledging that I shouldn't be too hard on myself – we are impulsive creatures and my desire to hang out with The Hub and watch the Apprentice will probably always come before buying that external hard drive or actually finishing my filing backlog.


Do you enjoy reading this blog? I'm going to be exploring how to reach out to new as well as existing readers, such as by finally getting to grips with using twitter to its full advantage, creating a facebook page, etc. But I'd also be grateful if you could help spread the word. If you have any friends who you think might be interested in reading my musings, please do forward them the link. More importantly, if you have any suggestions for how you think I could be getting myself out there more (I know some of you are probably really good at this) or even what type of posts you most like reading, let me know. Either email me here or post in the comments section. I really would love to hear from you.

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  1. Okay, get the smoke detectors up. And clapping and cheering for getting all your wedding thank yours out - some people drag that task out for years.

    I try to rotate something fun (writing, reading blogs, reading books) with something I've been putting off. Do something I've been putting off, then let myself read a chick lit book.

    That said, I've managed to procrastinate doing file folder labels, which is not really that onerous a task, and I have piles o stuff in my office just waiting to go into neatly labeled file folders. This weekend, I'm doin' it!

  2. Appreciate the kudos on the thank yous -- I have no idea how people who don't like writing manage it! I like your rotation scheme with the nice treat at the end. I also need to begin reinstating my 30 min strategy as I find that once I actually start a task I usually start enjoying it. Good luck with the file folder labels - let us know if you end up enjoying it in the end too! :)


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