In my adult life I have frequently labored to establish a routine, a schedule, a tracker that I can use to follow a plan towards some (often ill-defined) goal. I’ve read Covey twice, bought his planner once, built two bullet journals, and have several different calendar apps (even though I usually can’t be bothered to keep them as current as the paper calendar on my kitchen wall). I worshiped at the altar of Efficiency, prayed to the demigod Productivity and made sacrifice to Success as I pursued my erstwhile goals with the fervor of a rabid hound. Even so recently as last month I found my knees dirty, my hands holding cords of my hair as I beat myself upon Productivity’s altar.
Even through the resultant storm of emotions I knew that it was not that the “gods” had not heard me; it was that I was too weak, too lazy, somehow unworthy of such structure, the semblance of success. It seemed, despite my best efforts at discipline, my inspiration had fled from me and that life-affirming act of art-making had once again lost its juice.
But I knew it was my fault; I knew that I was simply not worthy of the juice because I had not worked hard enough at the squeezing yet.
You see, I procrastinate…
And while I beat myself up again, the familiarity of the situation struck me dumb. I had felt this sort of self-oppression before, known that I had come too far from the internal to dwell in the external. Bereft of my own connection to spirit I dallied with those values gleaned from books and articles–different titles and authors from before but the content remained the same. They painted this dazzling picture; I could be successful if I only had the right morning routine, the right way of meditating, the perfect diet or the Holiest of Holies, that perfect schedule.
I worked so hard to garner these externalities I lost touch with the essence of my art; I knew HOW to get things done but I had no idea WHY I was doing any of it! So, I would spend hours cleaning rather than go into my studio. I took on extra time at work, dates with friends, and did my chores the long-way around; anything to keep from having the time and space to deal with the issues I had created for myself. I call myself the Queen of Procrastination.
In my frustration I flung myself against the proverbial wall and was knocked out cold. When I came to I moved slowly, spending time with my thoughts, refusing to make lists or look at my schedule. I came to see how procrastination manifested as a lack of passion rather than a lack of discipline.
Ever since high school I have struggled with procrastination: the schedule, the planning and obsessions with routines and rituals are all constructs I have erected to manage one of my most shameful traits. “Here, just chop it into manageable bits and it will go easily…here, it just needs a deadline; I just need to stick to it, to force myself to start and then the rest will come easily.” But lately the foulness of my mood just deepened and with my procrastination grew the prevalent, low-level, self-hatred. I couldn’t even manage to show up some days so how could I ever expect to garner success? Surely if I could just show up and do something my passion would return? The muse likes to find us at work, after all…
In a rare moment of silence left by my own bullying mind I ken the irony: I sought to forestall the familiar, ugly, trait of procrastination by building such elaborate time management constructs that I thoroughly slew my passion. Procrastination rose as passion’s ghost to torment me until I finally relented. Now I find myself on a self-guided path of rehabilitation.
My name is Tam and I am addicted to time management.