Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Law of Diminishing Intent

I came upon this quote a few days ago and it resonated with me. 

I printed it off, taped it on the computer desk and it was to inspire me. How could a truth such as this inspire me after (over) five years of procrastination on our Family Book Project? It felt like a slap in the face. I could hear it telling me "See! I told you that you would never finish!! I was right!"

No quote is going to talk to me like that. I hobbled into action. Almost immediately.

I spun my wheels a lot this past week. It was a week of not being able to complete one task before I dove into the next. Then the next.

I (try to) write a quarterly newsletter for my daycare family. I succeeded with spring, summer and fall last year. I skipped over winter and we are well into spring this year. I started a winter/spring newsletter a week ago.

The project got aborted because the phone rang. Then, because I was waiting to find out the outcome of some potential interviews with new families. It was further prolonged by the fact that I can't string two coherent thoughts together in the form of a sentence while my little people are here during my daycare week. But most of all? Because ... the longer I waited to do something that I had decided to do, the less probability there was of me actually completing the task.

My column was accepted by another new paper this week. I just had to make one small adjustment to the writing samples that I had submitted. I had to make them longer. I am a wordy writer. I add too many sidebars and explanations and stories. I have little problem condensing my work. But adding to it? That took a completely different set of tools and energy. I started my revisions on Thursday. I tried harder on Friday. But the job still remained UN-done. The words "The longer you wait ... the less probability of the job getting done" haunted me. What in the world do I think that I am doing? I cannot take on any more. I am setting myself up for a nosedive here if I keep adding onto my to-do list. 

I didn't have the energy or motivation to update our daycare blog this week. Normally I write a blurb about each day, fill it with pictures and give my parents a visual of what goes on here while they are at work. Monday came and went without an update. So did Tuesday. Wednesday came and I finally wrote about Monday and Tuesday. By the time Friday night rolled around all that I could think was "Do not procrastinate until tomorrow. It will ruin your day if you have to start it with uncompleted work from the week!"

This line of thinking spurred me into action. Not only did I update our daycare blog at 10:30 p.m., I tended to my banking, I cleared the clutter (aka: unfinished business) from the kitchen table and the computer desk. There is a direct correlation between the state of clutter in these two places as to the state of chaos in my brain.

The next thing that I did was write a to-do-list. It contained three items:
  • Newsletter
  • Columns
  • Chapter
Three items. Three words.

I knocked off the first two items on the list before noon. I could feel the procrastination gene rearing its ugly head once again. The words "the longer you wait ... the less probability of it getting done" taunted me.

Then I changed my tactic. One hour. I didn't have to complete one chapter within the Book Project. I would simply commit myself to one hour

Well, you know how that goes. Once I managed to reroute my thinking and change the wiring in my brain I suddenly was not setting myself up for failure. 

Thankfully the phone did not ring and no one walked into the living room to distract me. I got my hour. And then some.

I have been honing the art of procrastination a lot lately. It is robbing me of energy and motivation. It is stealing joy from my life. Unfinished tasks are weighing me down. 

I cannot take on the world all at once. I will not let the Law of Diminishing Intent win. I must reroute my old strategies and aborted attempts. I have to stop beating myself up over this. And just DO it.

I have said this so many times before. I don't know what will make this time any different than all of the rest. Except today? Sitting here at an empty computer desk and a kitchen table which is just as clean, I feel energized.

The only sad part to this tale is that I must go put in a bookkeeping day today. I must redirect this energy that I have at the onset of this day and spend it somewhere else. And that, is most likely the reason (excuse?) that the Book Project has been aborted so often and for so long. 

Since I started this project called The Book, I went back to school. I changed career paths. I started and stopped four different jobs before I returned to what-I-know-best (my home daycare). I started working at bookkeeping on (sporadic) weekends. I started writing columns for a handful of publications. I have taken part in a dance competition; gone on an Alaskan adventure; been a part of many family & friend gatherings; and simply put 'living-my-life' on the front burner. And that is a good thing.

Except ... I am so very easily distracted these days. Perhaps I have a few too many kettles in the fire. But then again, you know what they say: 

"If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do." ~ Lucille Ball

That must be what I am aiming for. But the key to accomplishing that feat is completing one small task at a time. 

Clear out the clutter that is weighing you down and start taking control of your energy today! I will try and report back to you...

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