Sunday, March 2, 2008

Enough, already!

The other day a thought—I can’t remember just what it was—went through my head for the gazillionth time and I said to myself, “Enough, already!”

English is a foreign language for at least one of my hundreds of dozens of three regular readers, so I’ll explain that this phrase expresses exasperation. When siblings have been endlessly arguing over whose turn it is to clean the litter box, their mother might shout, “Enough, already! That box better be clean before dinner or you’ll both be on litter box duty for the rest of your lives.” When a group of friends has been wandering around the video store for half an hour trying to decide what to rent, one of them might say, “Enough, already! Why don’t we just admit that we all want to see Saturday Night Fever one more time?” (By the way, the latter is not a true-life example. Neither is the former, as Child One can’t go within 10 feet of the litter box scoop without gagging.)

When I said “Enough, already!” to myself, it was a light-bulb moment. My head was filled with all the things I have enough of in my life: stuff (especially certain categories of stuff), clutter, stress, disorganization, disappointment, negative people, procrastination. I could go on, but it’s a bit overwhelming. And I thought of all the things I definitely don’t have enough of: furniture (we left much of ours behind during our last big move and haven’t replaced it yet), organization, fun, time spent doing what I love to do, and so on. I kept trying to add yarn to that list, but I knew I was lying.

Like the mother who just wants the litter box cleaned, I’m exasperated with many aspects of my life right now. When I think about it, the whole idea of my Getting My Shit Together Project (started in September) and its subproject, the Year of Living Differently, was borne out of frustration with the status quo. I’m saying “Enough, already! Make your life what you want it to be.”

Because I’ve realized that any life improvement project is easier for me when I give it a catchy title (probably because I’m more likely to actually remember I’ve embarked on a life improvement project instead of making a great plan and promptly forgetting it), I’m going to try something new for March. I’m saying “Enough, already!” to procrastination for the month.

I chose procrastination for a few reasons. First, my procrastination habit has gotten worse over the years, growing from almost nonexistent to a major force, and I’m worried that at this rate, by the time I’m in my 60s I’ll be putting off basic things like eating and getting out of bed in the morning.

Second, procrastination takes a lot of time. There’s the time I spend listening to the infinite-loop to-do list in my head, the time I waste when I’m avoiding doing something I don’t want to do, and the time it takes to remember how to finish something I started weeks ago or to find the things I need to finish it.

Third, procrastination is a big source of stress in my life. Every time I see something I’ve been meaning to take care of or something has to get done in a rush at the last minute or something is forgotten altogether because I’ve put it off, I mentally hit myself in the head and call myself names.

On most mornings in the last couple of weeks I’ve spent half an hour on neglected paperwork before starting work. When I do something that I’ve been procrastinating about, it no longer plays on the to-do list several times a day. I no longer tense up when I think about it, because I don’t think about it anymore. It’s done and it’s gone from my mind!

So I’ve made a list of five things I’ve been putting off that I will take care of this month. Some are bigger and some are smaller, but they’re all things that have been hanging over my head for weeks or months or (I hate to say it) years. I could have listed dozens, but these are the first five that came to mind. When I get them done, I will pick five more. I’m also going to try to recognize when I’m procrastinating about everyday things.

If this works well for me (that is, if, at the end of the month, I don’t stumble across this post and say, “Oops. I forgot I’d planned that”), then I’ll pick another theme for April. My hope is that by declaring “Enough, already!” about the stuff and emotions and habits cluttering up my life, I’ll be making room for the more positive things that I don’t have enough of.


Mallu said...

Reading your blogs is exhausting! I think I'll have to take a nap now...

I mean that you seem to be so efficient; you have brilliant ideas and you put them into practice just like that. It would be good for me to follow your example in many cases, but... a bit later, maybe?

Anyway, something positive happened in my life today. I have a big project which I've kept procrastinating for a long time now. I seem to be a person who is unable to work without deadlines. Well, today I met a friend who was clever enough to stipulate a deadline for my project! Now I have a fixed date - and I'm sure this will be very helpful for me.

Susan said...

Mallu, I am so inefficient in real life. It's just this blog that makes me look more efficient than I am.

The only reason I put this idea into practice right away is that it's the beginning of the month. If I'd thought of it on the 12th or the 23rd, I would have said, "Oh, I'll start this on the 1st" and then I would have forgotten all about it!

I know what you mean about deadlines. I'm the same way--and I don't listen to deadlines I set, only ones someone else sets. Good luck with your project!

Hayley Townley, Breast Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire! said...

No really, I am going to water the plants today. And change the sheets on the bed. And clean my desk. Perhaps I can do some laundry too?

Or, perhaps I can just sit down until the feeling goes away. Oh, I can feel it slipping away, ever so slowly.

POOF! It's gone.

Now what was I going to do today?