Later Never Comes

A lot of people try to change their life by changing habits. Exercise habits, eating habits, sleeping habits, drinking habits. Recently I have been working really hard to finally -- once and for all -- change my procrastination habit. Don't think procrastination is a habit? Neither did I. Being a procrastinator was just the way I was.

My procrastination was so pervasive that I am still shocked when I think about the way I used to operate, compared to how things are starting to change now.

If something didn't need to be done at an exact time, there was no way I would do it. Why put the dish in the dishwasher when you could leave it by the sink? Why open the mail the day it arrives when you can wait a day or two or even a week? Why text someone back straight away when you can wait a few hours or a day? I would always have piles of things around. Admin piles, stacks of things to read or file, an overflowing inbox, people to get back to and lists and lists of things to do.

It was such an ingrained habit that I didn't even realize I was doing it. Sure, I knew that I was putting off the big things -- work assignments that scared me, writing projects that I didn't think I was capable of completing, conversations I didn't want to have. But it was shocking how many small innocuous things I left for that other time -- you know, "later" -- when the tasks would be sure to be less annoying, less uninteresting and I would be feeling much more productive.

But later never came.

Instead, when later came, I just felt worse. I was constantly stressed by all these little things I had to do, as well as the big things. And I thought this was how everyone operated. I remember being caught off guard when I told the Hub that we should do some boring household task tomorrow. He seemed slightly annoyed and reprimanded me: "Let's just get it done."

Because of course today I couldn't tackle anything. I was too stressed about everything I had to do.

I do think that the major clear out I did last year (read more about it here), really helped me to pinpoint how bad this habit was. With less clutter around, I am considerably less anxious, and it's easier to see what's holding me back from doing what I want to do.

There is, however, an argument to be made for putting some things off. When there's a real problem to solve, it helps to give yourself time to figure it out before diving in and tackling it the wrong way. But sometimes you have to start something before you can even get to this stage -- there's a lot to be said for getting more information straight away. And even if you can't get back to someone immediately away with a decision, you can respond to an email or text and say you need more time to figure something out (my procrastination habit was also turning into just plain bad manners).

I suppose I could make the excuse that I was just conserving energy. Sometimes if you don't do something for long enough, you don't end up having to do it. But to be honest, this habit has never felt like a good thing and has always made me feel like everything in life is so hard and difficult. It's actually a relief to realize it doesn't have to be that way.

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