Sunday 10 January 2010

one word

It's taken me a little while to get around to writing this post, which is slightly ironic, as you'll see. As I mentioned, I've chosen a word, a theme really, to focus on throughout the year. My word is not in the dictionary as I've made it up, but somehow I think you'll understand. It's 'unprocrastinate'. This single word resonates for me deeply, and perhaps it will for some of you, too. Or is it just me? The dictionary is pretty clear about procrastination:


-verb (used without object)
1. to defer action; delay: to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost.

-verb (used with object)
2. to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.

In a nutshell, procrastination stops you really living. I am forever putting off things I don't particularly want to do right now, leaving them to the very last minute when the threat of a deadline spurs me into action (usually work related things, but not always). So I get there in the end (often after several very late nights and a lack of sleep). But those moments faffing about and not getting on with whatever needs doing, are times wasted. Those times when I put something off because I know I'd rather knit/read/walk/make something/cook etc....well, even when I sit down and do what I think I'd rather be's not one hundred percent joyful because there's this little voice nagging away at me saying I should prioritise the essentials, and then, and only then, will I truly relax.

So there you have it. Does anyone have any tips? How do you organise your time? Do you make lists? (I'm better when I make lists, it gives me focus). How do you make yourself do the necessary things, when you'd rather be doing something else? I think it's also fair to say that I'm also very good at putting off things even when I do want to do them. Like making christmas presents, or participating in a swap.....

Still, I'm aiming to really make some changes this year - to take action, rather than defer action.

(In a roundabout way, life gave me a very strong lesson this week. After several days of increasingly strong chest pain, I ended up in casualty. I faffed around before going in, and of course the more I faffed, the more anxious I became. I even vacuumed the house and did the washing-up, just in case I was admitted, and needed to call on a neighbour to see to Walter! Anyway, I was making up all sorts of extreme stories in my head about the ghastly fate that was about to become me, when a very loud voice pops up and says "hang on a minute, I want to LIVE, I have so many more things I want to do with my life". As it happens, I have not had a cardiac event (as the hospital called it) but have something called costochondritis. I was pleased to be told it tends to occur in fit, active people!)

So really, two words spring to mind: rocket and arse.

all photos: the sea before the snow came

Life is for living, not procrastinating.


dottycookie said...

Argh, that must have been very scary. I'm glad all is well now.

I have no tips. I find lists do work, and I do tick stuff off them and get things done but somehow it seems to suck all the joy out of the day to look at my long list and realise it's hours till I can actually do anything I *want* to do!

Pomona said...

Funnily enough, I had that a couple of years ago after an injury, but it was the doctors who were insisting it must be something dreadful whilst I was insisting that I had injured myself moving a chicken run! It quite freaked me out, and took a long time to get over the doctor-induced anxiety! I am always procrastinating, especially in favour of knitting, and it takes an imminent deadline in order for me to really get going!

Pomona x

Clare said...

Wow scary indeed - glad that you are all OK.
I am also a master procrastinator so I am loving your "new" word and feel it should be added to my vocabulary instantly.
I do make list - not because I like lists, but because I like ticking things OFF IT.
I also LOVE my ipod when it comes to doing something I don't really like...unfortunately I fear my husband is not so keen (have ever tried NOT singing along to a great song?)
Take Care

Lyn said...

I agree with your last statement. It is so hard, I can't say exactly What I have done this weekend, but I can tell you everything I HAve Not done!

Tilly said...

No tips from me I'm afraid, though I do make lists to help me focus. My problem is getting distracted part way through one job by all the other stuff that needs doing.

ginny said...

oh diana...i am so glad you are ok... sending you lots of love xx
i love your word and think it should be in the dictionary.... i would like to try and un - procrastinate too this year ... i am dreadfully good at procrastinating. janet(clare) has copied me a great little weekly planner she uses. it splits each day into time slots...(from 9 to 8)and has space to plan the meals and a notes column to add essential things to do in any particular week. this really has helped me as without a schedule i am the worst. the only problem is that the snow and school closures have thrown it all out...
you take care dear diana and here's wishing you find the balance to gently tick off the essentials and reward yourself with the treats x
warmest wishes
ginny x

p.s. the photos in this post are so so beautiful x

Jackie said...

Very pleased it was not what you thought. I am terrible at procrastination or should I say very good at it?Sometimes its little things and sometimes big. Usually I feel 'I can't do this' or that or whatever and eventually I shake myself out of it and always feel better. But I don't know quite how I get to that stage.
I'll think about it and tell you tomorrow.....

maureen said...

I am so glad that your scary pains weren't as serious as you thought, although I'm sure the pain must be very uncomfortable, so I hope it gets better soon.
I make 'to do lists' almost every day along with shopping lists. I have always done this and if makes my friends laugh. Trouble is I have a mind like a butterfly ! it flits from one job to another as I catch sight of something I want to do, but most of the time it isn't on my list, so my day goes past doing things that I hadn't even planned on doing.
It's my intention (and on a list !!) to remedy this in 2010 and organise my days, so I will be following how you deal with yours with great interest. I'm so easily distracted, I think I must have ADHD.

Get well soon

Griffin said...

Hmm, I always thought life was for surviving, but what do I know. I'd say that with procrastination, find out the 'mechanisms' you do to avoid things and do the opposite.

If I have an idea for something, I write it down straight away for fear of losing it. Then as soon as I can I get to it - again for fear of losing it. My feeling is that if I'm trying to avoid doing something there's a reason. Find the reason and you know if you should let go of the thing-to-be-done or not. If not, gerronwivit!

I was born with a hole in the heart, so any chest pain I have to take seriously - even tho' I hate hospitals.

Gina said...

So glad that you're okay.

As a great procrastinator I've no tips however I can say I have put off doing my tax return and it has played on my mind for weeks. Yesterday I sat and did it and it wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined and a whole lot better than worrying about it. There's a lesson there I think.

Lisa said...

Goodness me a bit of a scary situation, hope you are feeling lots better.
I am a great list writer but then rubbish at completing them. I do waste time rather than manage it well. I know I shouldn't put things off and just get on and tackle them as most of the time they are straightforward enough when I get round to them!
Take care
Lisa x

Pipany said...

How i have been waiting to read thia post dear Diana , but first...arghh!!!! Hate the sound of the quiet panic you must have felt with those chest pains. Glad it is not anything truly horrendous and that you did indedd get it sorted. Now, unprocrastinate - well, as we have already discussed I am in your team for this. Sick of being such a noodle that all enjoyment resonates to the background noise of 'you should be doing...'. You wrote it so perfectly and I am now definitely intending to start that dreaded bookwork today (yes, no signs of it thus far) and you may yell, laugh or fire me from your team if this is not so. Inspiration tends to come from others' success stories for me so please keep me informed of all progresses from small to large!
Much love Diana and take care xx

kristina said...

Oh I'm so glad you're okay. That must have been really scary.

I'm most definitely a list girl. I can't start the day without a to do list.

But my problem is making too many lists with too many things on them. So my goal for the year is to make more doable lists!

K x

Pipany said...

Oh meant to say - see procrastinating again as I should be getting kids ready! - that for lists I write them out and then assign them an a, b or c: a= HAS to be DONE TODAY whatever.
b = should be done today if poss but could be tomorrow (where it will become 'a')
c = get to as soon as poss but not urgent for the mo.

It SHOULD work!!!! x

Simone said...

That experience must have been so scary for you Diana. I need to un-procrastinate too. As you know my word this year is ACTION but I haven't had much so far due to getting a cold on top of a cold. The trouble with me is that there is so much I want to do that in the end I become frozen and don't actually do anything. I think my plan is going to be a list everyday of things I need to do such as ironing, tidying etc and time for some fun creative things to do when the drudge is out of the way! x

willow said...

That was scary, so glad that it wasn't serious and you are ok.
I'm a list maker although I'm not sure its always the best way. Some of my lists can be so long and overwhelming that I can't find the energy to start!

Grandmaibb said...

Oh poor you, very scary indeed. In the procrastination stakes I am up there with the best of them. I write lists and that helps a little but not totally so if you have any tips for me I would appreciate them.

Take care in the cold.

Pippa xx

driftwood said...

glad you are ok, what a nasty scare xx
I make lists, but they never help because then I lose them....

caireen said...

Hi Diana! happy new year! did you get my email re the photographs? Let me know what you think, as fearing it may not have reached you Caireen XX

caireen said...

oh god, just read your post - hope you are feeling better XXX

Petit Filoux said...

What a post! Glad to hear you are better now. I'm definitely one for lists. Crossing things off is so satisfying. And every time you look at your list, you're reminded of everything that needs doing - nice and not so nice things. And you just get on with it!

dragonfly said...

I do hope you're feeling better now.

My plans for this year are to become re-energised and I am trying to get the mundane domestic stuff done first thing then I can reward myself with the creativity that energises my soul later on. Even if it's just 20 minutes cleaning, that's fine. I have found that by doing the rotten stuff in small chunks makes it much more managable, and never as bad as you think. I always have a mental list in my head of my daily plans.

Do look after yourself though, Diana.

Gigibird said...

Procrastination is very deep seated – I am one and I know exactly where mine comes from – being told that any decisions I made could not be changed – and then when I did do something it was questioned and criticized….
Even now choice cripples me into doing nothing.
However one thing that does work for me is 20 minute bursts of activity. I use this when doing household chores, paper work or things I particularly don’t want to do.
You might want to consider seeing a therapist to find out where your procrastination stems from.

...Nina Nixon... said...

Hello Diana,

I've just popped over from Pipany and firstly 'OMG!' hope all's OK?
and secondly, despite the initially concern you did make me giggle with your last two words - I could do with some of that all the time.

take care and I hope all's well?

Nina xx

justine.grist said...

Mum told me about this, I hope you are ok?? Sounds very scary, trust you to be more concerned about making sure the dishes are done than dealing with it! I have to admit though that I am a huge procrastinator! Its a habit I can't seem to get out of, looks like I need to take a leaf from your book!

On a lighter note, I've sent you some pics of Brockham in the snow and just wanted to check you got them ok? let me know if you haven't and i'll have to confirm with you I have the right email xxxx

Marigold Jam said...

Have just come over to yours from Pippany's and have to say how much this post resonnated with me. I seem to spend my whole life not doing things even things I want to do. I must just do so and so then I will do whatever it is and of course I don't get round to it. I join you in your attempt to unprocrastinate this year as nobody on their deathbed ever said I wish I'd done mor dusting or whatever did they so let's get on with the creative side of life whilst we still can!


The Curious Cat said...

oh dear, what a scare -I hope you are okay?! It sounds like you are now...hope so! As for procrastinating - lists are always helpful and setting aside some time... I'm quite an active doer but something do get swaps - like you! And filing bills and that sort of just do them when you can...there is never enough time really... xxx

Reading Tea Leaves said...

Glad that everything is OK with the ticker Diana, I have an irregular heart beat (treated with meds)and I know how scary it can be.
I like your word and I think I could do with some unprocrastinating myself as I'm always putting things off.
As some wit once said 'life is not a dress rehearsal' - did I actually say that? Yikes!

Take good care of yourself Diana.

Jeanne x

Ruth said...

What a good word. My grandmother was constantly telling us all "procrastination is the thief of time".

silverpebble said...

Goodness me. I was on tenterhooks as your post got towards the end. I'm so glad it wasn't too serious Diana. Very glad indeed. Phew.

Procrastination? Funny you should mention it. I have been procrastinating about my tax return. I HAD to begin it tonight. I decided to do an hour, split in to two tortuous half hours. In between I watched 'Delia down the decades' as a reward for starting at all. After my second half hour I had a glass of wine as another small reward - I had actually logged on to the hmrc website - I have completed 1% of my tax return - 1%! It's like stickers with my four year old. A bit of the boring, a bit of the pleasurable. It seemed to work tonight and I feel, not virtuous, but less guilty. I still have 99% to go though - bllleeeuuughhh.

Sarah said...

sounds to em like you need to redefine 'messing about' - you get everything done that you need to and in the meantime, if you dropped the guilt you would be having lots of fun!! enjoy!

suzanne said...

Glad to hear that it is nothing serious! I too am a list maker - if it is not on the list it doesn't get done. The problem is my lists tend to be rather long and unrealistic! You are right - life is for living and being present in the moment and engaging with things, even if it is something you don't want to do is so much better than just thinking about it. Take action! Once the 'chores' are done your free time is so much more enjoyable. Also making a clear separation between work time and free time is essential particularly if you work from home.

Ali said...

Scary. So glad it wasn't more serious.

I am relatively organized, but these days, I find lists a touch joyless. Instead I am trying to write down one thing I want to do each day. That way, I seem to rush through all the bits I don't really want to do, but must in order to get to it.

I don't know if it's working, but I am conscious of doing one nice thing a day at least!

alice c said...

I have discovered that if I keep a list of things that I have DONE it is more motivating than a list of things that I have got TO DO. That way I focus on achievement rather than failure. You have to be careful not to get sidetracked into dealing with the most immediate needs and so I have routines to ensure that everything gets dealt with on a regular basis.
I think I probably do just as much as I did before but I don't feel so panicky at the end of the day.

Fennie said...

Hi - you were recommended by Pipany -
Excellent blog. My tip. 'blocking-in' - it's a theatre term. I act a lot.
Here's a task. So I put that task down for Saturday morning, or Thursday afternoon and then I organise around it, plan for it. The task is in the diary, so do it. Sorted!