We all do it to some degree. It manifests itself in a multitude of ways: I’ll schedule that for later after I complete this other task—and then you never get to it. A number of things come along and distract from the tasks at hand. Procrastination. In fact, I think I just spent the entire summer and fall blaming my blog and other book releases for not being able to do the research for my next book. After all, I did finish writing OP-GHO: Operation Ghost and I’m still working on marketing my scifi/fantasy series. OP-GHO won’t be out until 2018, at the earliest. The others will be out in the two years between then. And, they’re done.
I’m sort of at an impasse with how I’m gauging this procrastination: I just wrote a book, can I take a break before the next one? I have three years of publications coming, so there is no rush. Still, I could do the research, because I need to hammer out a number of things before I can get any further into the writing (I had started a few years back. At that time, I also talked myself out of continuing on it).
The impasse deepens here. In my experience, when I can’t move forward on a project, it’s because I’m missing important pieces to the story. Whether it is a bit of information or an experience I need to have, something is telling me to slow my roll. And, it is high time I took a wee break to rest up. In that reasoning, I take a seat or do something else, waiting to stumble upon the insight awaiting me.
No worries. I will write one of my projects before too long.
This same dance occurs in so many aspects of our lives. At work we’ll ignore one pile to peck away at another pile that isn’t as demanding, until the first pile gets so high we can no longer ignore it. Often, we find ourselves in a pickle with having a lot less time to do this work, which takes more concentration and care than our other tasks. And, thus we make mistakes and feel like we don’t have enough time. (Remember getting told by your elders that you should tackle the tough stuff first? Yeah, they know what they’re talking about).
Procrastination can cause us to have less time. After all, that is point: to put it off until the last minute. That said, there are legitimate instances where we do not have enough time and no amount of planning is going to make that change. Some people like to fill up their calendar with activities and tasks, which have nothing to do with putting off things they would rather not do.
Preference, also, isn’t always the driving force. It’s not necessarily that we dislike the tasks but it might take more effort on our part to complete it and our minds build that up to mountain-sized obstacles. For instance, reading a new book and/or writing a book review. Sure, we want to read that new book, but when–we’re helping with the kid’s school play, work has asked me to take over time, I have to volunteer at the local shelter, the house needs cleaning? Add on the additional burden of wanting/needing to write a review and it starts looking like the Grand Tetons in January. Yet, it’s not really that big of a deal. Anxiety has dug in.
Perhaps the real problem is that there are so many choices out there of things to do and things that need to be done that we’re overwhelmed. I know I feel overwhelmed with the number of things I have on my list. How I got through working full time, writing and going to graduate school—I am no longer certain how I managed. The amount of time in a day hasn’t changed. The only difference is that I now have different choices to make and I’m simply making the choice to do easier and time consuming things, like binge watching Netflix. I justify it as research in writing screenplays and other fiction. Keeping tabs on what is hot in current culture is very important to what I do as I plan out my work.
In the end, my policy is to not put things off. It always seems that the minute you do, things start piling high. If you attend tasks as soon as possible instead, then often that pile doesn’t climb high at all. Still, there are times when the floodgates seemed to be locked open and everything is coming at once. I guess that’s another reason to follow through in a timely manner, so such moments aren’t so overwhelming.
Thanks to one of my readers for the suggestion of topic! If you’d like to suggest a topic, leave me a comment or use the contact form.
Good luck with your to do list!