Finding a Shovel

I looked up the definition of overwhelmed –

“bury or drown beneath a huge mass.”

and to say I screamed at the laptop “You don’t know my life” is an understatement as I think about the mountains in my life – unfolded laundry, emails to send, blogs to write, dashboards to complete, runs to schedule and on it goes.

When we discuss procrastination, it is always discussed as some failing. As if we enjoy the moments and hours that waste away when we know if we pulled on our big girl drawers and cranked it out, it would get done. Or that we are afraid of failing. Or we don’t know how to schedule tasks. And yes, that may be true. But as I have gotten older and realized more about the impacts of depression and anxiety on my performance, I realize that I never knew how to deal with being buried beneath the mass of how daunting it can seem. Like there is never another side to get to.

The first step was acknowledgement. That I actually was overwhelmed. The second step was trying to figure out how to fight inertia and so I started asking myself

“What is the smallest task I can do to simply get started?”

And so now when I have a huge task that feels like it too much of something, I look for a shovel. I use that shovel break it down in to the smallest, simplest steps I can. My shovel may be time. For example, when folding laundry, it may simply be I will fold all the clothes I can while the next two songs play. My shovel for a complex analysis at work it may be – 1) open the Excel spreadsheet 2) label the columns 3) label the rows and so on.

Because we create these grand, huge challenges in our head and everything is always a series of step after step Every single computer program, regardless of complexity, can be traced back to a series of 0s and 1s.

Because the challenge in procrastination is not that you are a loser, it’s not that you don’t have self control, or discipline.

It could simply be you need to find the right size shovel to dig your way out.

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