The Jobs-that-Never-End List
Recently I noticed that I let myself get caught up in the jobs-that-never-end list at work and at home. You know the ones. At work it’s email, file clean-up, routine staff meetings, calendaring, paperwork, red-tape, and such. At home it’s paying bills, laundry, dishes, lawn mowing, scheduling workmen and appointments, etc. After a couple of weeks of letting myself get caught up in these and the many other chores that make up the jobs-that-never-end list I suddenly realize I am bored, and not making time for, or progress in, the fun and exciting part of work and life: the planning, designing, implementing, and celebrating of something new, cutting edge, or different. I realize I have abandoned the adventure and am holed-up in the safety of the mundane.
Granted, sometimes doing so is a necessity. For example, when I get so caught up in a design activity that I neglect the mundane ones and they catch up with me. Then taking a few days to knock them out is good for the soul. They’ve lost their mundaneness. They give a quick sense of accomplishment; no delayed gratification required.
I used to think I was simply procrastinating – in the negative definition: putting off what I needed to do but for some reason gives me pause, for something I want to do or at least easily fills the time until I am forced by a deadline or guilt to get to work.
But, more and more often I find I’ve let myself hunker down in that hole because I’m sorting. That is, I’ve put an idea, a design or two, out there and I’m sorting through how to make it happen. What steps to take next, how to bring its implementation onto an already crowded plate, getting over that initial stage of inertia that comes with an acute awareness of how much has to be done to make the design a success. At these times wallowing in routine, mundane activities gives me time to step back and get a new perspective.
The challenge is to recognize the reason I’m in the hole. Simple procrastination? In which case the solution is to accept it must be done, take it on, and power through. It’s rarely as bad as the monster my mind created and, once I get around to it, usually takes less than half the time I had imagined. Or, am I sorting? I much prefer sorting. It creates no monsters, comes to an end on its own, and usually ends with an aha moment and renewed inspiration!
So here you have it. One result of a couple of weeks of knocking out some mundane stuff that caught up with me and sorting the implementation of new designs for SETAC, work, and home:
A blog about procrastination.