Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Saving it for later

As I've mentioned before, I'm currently unemployed. I also don't have much of a social life. The second is a direct result of the first, I think. (Don't feel sad for me by the way, the world is a scary place and I like it at home!) The up side of this of course is that I have plenty of free time. You would think that means I'm on top of everything, right? You would think.

Phil, at A Time to Phil, had a great post today about my problem. He calls it SIFS, save it for Sundays. Being at home all day I don't have to wait until Sunday, I just SIFL (which sounds even more like a slang name for a nasty disease than Phil's does, but never mind). I save it for later.

The girls come home with a letter from school that needs to be signed and returned. I read the letter. Then instead of signing it with the pen that's RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, I put it on the table to deal with later. I read junk mail, and instead of dropping it straight into the recycling box in the hallway, I put it on the table to deal with later. Nothing ever gets done now. I need a check up at the dentist? Instead of calling them when I think of it, I make a note to ring them later.

Everything gets done, eventually, but why do I do this? Why do I wait until I have five different phone calls to make? Or until there's a pile of paper on the table that's starting to resemble that famous Italian edifice? I even, sort of, do it with my writing. When I started MYWYN I was determined to write 1k words a day. It didn't happen. Sure, there were other reasons, but if I'd managed my time properly I could have done it. I don't beat myself up about it because I can write 4 or 5k at a time in a decent session, which is usually every couple of days. I tell myself that's my preferred working method but I can't help thinking about how much more I could do if I could just make myself sit down and do that every day.

None of this is a problem at the moment, but sooner or later (I hope) someone will actually employ me, and maybe one day someone will even be interested in one of my books. If either – or both – of those things happen, I'd better get myself organised. I use google calendar and I make lists, but there's no cure for procrastination – except getting my ass into gear!

Thanks Phil, for giving me the idea for this post


  1. I keep telling myself that if I didn't have to go to work, I'd get much more writing done and even get around to doing a bit of housework. I suspect though that I'm kidding myself and I'd just get much better at procrastination.

  2. My husband has been unemployed for nearly a year. Believe me when I say I CAN SYMPATHIZE! It's hard to get motivated when your financial situation is rocky. Having a routine helps, but you have to stick with it. I wish there were an easier answer, but you mostly have to wait it out. And I'm waiting, and waiting, and waiting...

  3. There is actually a switch inside you that you can flip that cures procrastination.
    You flip the switch and you will never procrastinate again.
    OK, I'm pulling your leg, but it seems to me that recognizing it is half the solution.
    Maybe there really is a switch that you can flip.

  4. Vigorously nodding my head in agreement with all the comments above.

  5. Great post :)

    I think it's human nature to procrastinate. We really have to push ourselves to get things done when there isn't a deadline involved. Break the cycle! You can do it!

  6. I do this all the time! And whenever I'm unemployed, I find I have so much time it's hard to make myself do anything. You have so much time that you make worse use of it!

    Rest assured you're not alone :)

  7. Sarah - I do the exact same thing sometimes, and I think it's because those things - those "it doesn't matter at the moment" things - seem so unimportant. Then, as you say, they pile up. Or it could be that humans are easily distracted. You're just about to sign that permission letter or toss the junk mail when you get a writing idea or the 'phone rings or something. Then it's on to the next thing...

  8. Junk mail and school letters... I'm exactly the same!

  9. My mom calls this "completing the circle." I asked what she meant by it and she explained that it means finishing something. People who do laundry but never take the cloths out of the dryer, don't complete the circle. Or you never take the dishes out of the dish washer, you just use them as you need them and put dirty ones back.

    She was very proud when I finished my rough draft of my novel. I wasn't until I had a copy of it from the printer in my hands. She said "That's because you finished the circle and most people won't." She is right, but I still don't take my cloths out of the dryer.

  10. I think many people can empathise with this. I've found that the more time I have, the less I get done. 'Later' is a VERY common word in our house!

    I never thought I was a deadlines person, but if I have one, or give myself one - boy can I work!

    I have a nice wardrobe but the clothes are on the floor....

  11. I spot myself in there. Especially with the kids letters and post.

    In general though for trying to get a little more motivation/organisation you could set yourself one written down goal for a day and achieve that goal - be it making one phone call or writing 150 words. Set small goals to start and then feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with it when you cross it off your list.

    Next day have a new item on that list and after a couple of weeks mastering that one item a day, maybe you could progress to two items. I really do need lists to help me get organised.

  12. Oh I can also identify with this.
    I find that when I'm stressed or tired of have loads on my mind my brain goes into a strange other world where I don't get as much done as I'd like.

    There was a funny piece going around the emails a few years ago about a woman who was very busy all day but got very little done. I wish I could find it now. :O)

  13. I do this. Especially with housework and my part time job (which I do from home). I rather just write and sometimes I need a break from that because my brain needs a reload.

  14. When I first started writing full time, I wasted a LOT of time doing nothing. I had to create a sense of urgency about what I was going. Now I have a very strict schedule and if I don't stick to it, everything falls apart.

  15. I think that last sentence is the secret to it, if I could only DO it! :)

  16. Thanks for dropping by today! Don't beat yourself up for not meeting the goal. Life gets in the way sometimes. :) Good luck on the job front! Tutoring is a nice job if schools are hiring. :)

  17. Patsy - Yeah, no. I still don't do enough housework :)

    Emily - Welcome to you. Yup, getting good at waiting!

    Rick - Find that switch and you'll be a rich man!

    Tame Lion - Hello there, thanks for visiting. I love your site :)

    Phil - Thanks. I'll try...tomorrow...

    Ellen - Thanks, I'm relieved to know it's not just me!

    Margot - Indeed, I'm very easily distrac...ooh squirrel!

    Annalisa - I'm feeling better realising that it's a widespread problem :)

    SBJones - Your mum is a smart woman. My clean laundry lives on the sofa waiting for someone (me) to take it upstairs :)

    Margo - So THAT'S what that big cupboard is for...

    Rebecca - I'm going to try that, thank you.

    Madeleine - If you ever find it again, please pass it on!

    Christine - Working from home, a whole other challenge I would think.

    Talli - I'm starting to think a schedule is the way to go...

    Mohamed - Welcome to you. Indeed, knowing is easy, doing is hard :)

    AA - Welcome. I actually looked into that a while ago, but I'm not qualified, sadly :(

  18. Boy, do I know about procrastination. I'm one of those people who works with lists, but still I put off what I have to do and then get in a panic when my deadlines draw nearer. I'm determined to take charge though. I can't deny just how much I get done when I actually list my tasks and attack them one by one.


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