Showing posts with label procrastination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label procrastination. Show all posts

Monday, 29 October 2012

Love Letter to FlyLady

Image source. FlyLady's logo from her website. I hope she's OK with me putting it here! :)

It's no secret that I'm a big advocate for gentle parenting and conscious living. It hasn't always been the case, but what has always been the case is my love for personal growth and learning, and that's how I got there.

About six or seven years ago, in the course of discovery on the internet, several people on a forum I frequented raved about this FlyLady website that was, they said, all about how to keep your house clean. My house was pretty messy, not due to lack of ability, or lack of desire, and certainly I didn't feel as though I was a naturally messy person, but because of a niggly trait called perfectionism.

I lived under the shadow of "if you can't do it properly, don't do it at all" and so a lot of things were never done. Not because I was unable to do it well enough to suit me, but because everything became so huge! Sweeping the kitchen floor meant I needed to clean everything above the floor beforehand, because that's the order needed for cleaning - top to bottom. If I wanted to sweep the floor, I'd need a couple of hours to get it done.

I was far more than cynical when I went to check out her website, but I signed up and since, at that time, it was based in a Yahoo Group, I promptly forgot about it. Fast forward a few years and I decided to take another look. People were still raving about it and I hadn't given it much of a chance. And now she sends her emails to any address at all, so I could actually receive them. And read them...

Turns out FlyLady is out there gently re-parenting adults. Yes, she gives definite instructions to follow, which I wouldn't usually associate with gentle parenting, but there is no judgement or criticism involved and her ultimate goal is simply for you to Finally Love Yourself (FLY). There's nothing that takes the pressure off better than the line at the end of all of her emails:
You are not behind! I don't want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?
which gives you permission to be at whatever place you are.

She believes in baby-steps and helps you change your mindset from the inner critic that says you're not good enough, to the logical knowledge that a little bit is better than nothing, and lots of little bits really do add up.

Also, it's all free, so that's pretty cool too.

This is just a public thank you, because these ideas have helped with all sorts of manifestations of my perfectionism, not just housework. I would not have even started this blog yet because I'm still learning how to make things work as it is, and I couldn't have started under those conditions otherwise.

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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Terror Lies in the Clean Spot

Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about! You know what the clean spot is... Please tell me you know what the clean spot is and that it's not just all in my head? Maybe we call it by a different name? I'll explain then, just in case.

Imagine, say, that you have a little kid. And said little kid perhaps gets up from enthusiastic messy play, and runs to the bathroom to get clean (look, I said imagine, alright?). On their way into the bathroom, they pass through two partially closed doors and have to push them open. Now each door has a cute, muddy hand-print. Perfectly formed, miniature art.

There's a choice to be made now. You can leave the muddy hand print there. It'll dry. You'll look adoringly at it each time you pass, knowing that those little fingerprints are fleeting and maybe if you wipe these ones away, you might not get the chance to see the perfect little replicas in such an impromptu way again. But then your inner critic (and sometimes outer critic!) kicks in and exclaims about how lazy you are for not wiping it clean.

I have one of these spots on the glass of my back door.

The second choice is to wipe it and risk the clean spot. You thought the door was clean and white, and now there's a spot on it that's just a little more white than the rest. Worse, is when you squirt it with spray and a bit runs down the length of the door. Now you have a clean spot and clean drip-marks.

I have one of these spots on the door between my laundry room and hallway.

At this point, there's yet another choice to be made (kind of like a pick-a-path book, isn't it?) and it's not an easy one.

You can walk away. Basically, I only ever walk away for two reasons: to spite myself, or because I just can't be bothered. The second one is OK. It's clean, that's plainly obvious, and that's what you set out to do, and that's what got done, so shut up already. Perfectionism be buggered, leave the clean spot there; it's proof you do things at all. Yeah! If you clean the whole door, who's going to know it was dirty in the first place? Check out my cool rationalisations for "can't be bothered". I'm an expert.

If I walk away to spite myself, it's not because I can't be bothered. It's because I "know" the over thinking going on in my head is completely bonkers, so it's a punishment of sorts. Not the most gentle way to look after delicate little neural pathways.

Or you can clean the door. The whole, stinking door, for a six centimetre wide smudge, and you know that clean spot is going to stay ever so slightly cleaner than the rest. You'll be able to see it for years to come. I don't know what causes this phenomenon, and if anyone else does and knows how to fix it, PLEASE, I'M BEGGING YOU share your magic knowledge.

This may sound a little bit trivial, but the truth is, as convoluted as I made it, I chose an easy example. Doors don't take too much, even though it's completely true that I have a muddy hand print, a clean spot and several doors containing spots that are ever so slightly cleaner than the rest, and yes they do all mock me. But what if it was a wall? What if you got rash one day and decided to clean the baseboards, and accidentally made a clean spot on the wall? And it's glaringly obvious. Probably not to anyone else, but you'll keep looking back at it using the same compulsion that forces you to bite a mouth ulcer or poke a bruise, just to see if it still hurts.

It's too dangerous. It's OK to vacuum the baseboards, or dust them, but water can't be involved. Because terror lies in that clean spot that might occur. That fine line between perfectionism and things being "good enough". And accepting that good enough is better than nothing at all, or even, "not good enough but still better than it was" is better than nothing at all.

A drop in the bucket is worthwhile, because the bucket of water is made up of thousands of drops. One is not more important than the others. But add enough singular drops and it overflows. Each of those drops is one little clean spot, and, I guess, one more spot you don't need to clean.

I don't know. They're still pretty scary. Does anyone else have this problem with clean spots?

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Handprint photo source

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Procrastinator's Curse.

I am here because I'm procrastinating. Which is a little bit funny because I'm usually not here because I'm procrastinating.

But there are only so many ways you can procrastinate before you start doing things you mean to in preference to things you meant to do before the things you're doing now.

And so it is.

My procrastination channel of choice is most often the computer. I can find all sorts of rubbish on here that I can kid myself is good entertainment. Hitting the global leader board on a word finder game on Facebook though... That was a new low. I don't think the Facebook procrastination option is open to me any more. Feels bad, man. Real bad. I did it without cheating, and I ALWAYS thought those leaders must have cheated.


There was a time when I procrasti-cleaned and procrasti-baked. That lost its appeal when I no longer had essays to write for uni, but it was good while it lasted. Nothing was more important than a few smudges on the windows when there was an essay due the next morning! I wish nothing was more important than the bathroom mirror right now, but alas...




Apparently nothing was more important than the bathroom mirror. I'm completely serious! Who knew?

Then nothing was more important than snuggling the toddler back to sleep, then cleaning the rest of the bathroom, a cup of coffee and putting on a load of washing. And now that the load of washing has finished and is waiting for me to hang out, there's nothing more important than finishing this post.

See how that works?

The chain of procrastination is a beautiful thing. Or it would be if I wasn't putting off other awesomely fun and inspiring activities. Such as playing phone-tag with government agencies so that I can, in turn, procrastinate over filing overdue tax returns. Yeah, that's fun (and important, hence the procrastination).

Over the years, I've tried to come up with ways to stop my procrastination. To be the organised ... what's a word that means the opposite of addle-brained? ... y'know, one of them people what we all wanna be like, anyway. Except that I'm scared of lists and diaries. I always feel like a complete failure when I, well, fail to adhere to them. The inner critic gets up on her high horse and does her best impression of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Nobody's winning that war.

So I have to find another way of overcoming it.

I'm trying something new.

I hereby give myself permission to not do stuff.

Not all stuff, because some things are necessary for survival, so I'm keeping the "need to" things. But "should do" and "must do" are now hereby replaced with "could do" and "might do". Then for good measure, I'm adding a "because" after them too. A positive "because". As opposed to a negative "or else".


I might go to the gym because I'll feel much better about myself afterwards.

Feels much nicer and more inviting than:

I must go to the gym or else I won't get any fitter.

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman can bugger off; I want to give the curious and enthusiastic side of me a chance to do its thing.

Because I think that's where happiness lives.

Do you have an awesome way of overcoming procrastination that I (or someone else) can tuck away for future reference?

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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Gym is Stalking Me!

I joined in July. It was AWESOME! Especially the buying new workout clothes part. I fully recommend that. You get to feel virtuous while procrastinating and spending money all at the same time. It's inspired, especially when you don't think too hard about what happens next.

I went religiously for a week - every day for cardio in the morning and twice in the evening for Zumba classes. It kicked my arse. I kicked it back, oh yes I did!

This is the new me, I decided. The fitness-building, weight-losing gym bunny. I still felt virtuous and was still spending money (unfortunately, membership isn't free). The best two out of three - even though if I could find someone to pay me for it, I'd be a professional procrastinator.

It's often said that school-age children have the attention span "years of age = minutes of attention" before you have to direct them back to the path they were travelling down.

Apparently, my attention span is a week.

Oh, I wombled along the side of the path for a while, going in once or twice a week. There was even that one session with a personal trainer that left me crippled for three days, which might have centered me on the path, but I was still walking wonky and fell off before long.

It's been two weeks since I've stepped foot in the gym. The procrastinating and spending money is there... not so much with the virtuous.

Now I see the gym everywhere! The swipe-in tag on my keys taunts me daily. I've filled in a form with a borrowed pen with their brand on it. Someone's dropped appointment card littered the supermarket carpark (which happens to be across the road from the place itself, but that hardly counts). The kids turned TV on after school today and the show they watched just happened to shoot a story in the skate park my gym overlooks. The mirrored glass windows practically screamed at me you should be watching this from a treadmill, not a sofa!

I almost listened, too. Almost. I mean, I had to cook dinner, right? I'd go right after dinner... and after I'd procrastinated a bit more. Maybe. After I take this call, from a number I don't know, on my cell phone...

Okay! I freakin' get it, Universe!

I now have an appointment with a personal trainer tomorrow evening and my gym's number is no longer "unknown" on my cell phone. And I promise now to again be that fitness-building, weight-losing gym bunny and feel virtuous.

But can someone please remind me in a week?

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