PROCRASTINATION & THE ART OF MAINTENANCE

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PROCRASTINATION & THE ART OF MAINTENANCE

It’s hard to admit, but …

I’m a procrastinator.

Always have been.

Avoidance? Of bad news, of tasks that are a pain in the neck. But putting things off has a snowball effect. I know this, yet I continue to do it. Why? What’s the payoff? Because I guarantee you, there is definitely a payoff.

Maybe it’s peace of mind? But there’s that annoying little gnome gnawing at the edges of my mind on a daily basis. Maybe list making helps. Maybe it makes it worse, because I actually have to take the time to write it – and I have so much to write and do as it is. Avoidance is a temporary anesthetic applied by an overwhelmed person. Lazy is not the issue. Most procrastinators are far from lazy. But the tribe to which I belong – chronic procrastinators – suffer from extreme overwhelm and life overbooked. I just have other things I need to be doing.

Interestingly enough, this only happens in my personal life. In my career life, I jump on whatever task, strategy, etc. and take care of it immediately. What does that say about me? Bluntly, I care more about others’ needs than I do my own.

This is not good.

No one will take care of me like me. And no one will care for you, like you. Not your children. Not your husband or wife. Not your friends. Not your family. You must make an effort on your own behalf.

Embarrassingly, here’s a real-time example of my procrastination – which could have resulted in catastrophy:

Here I sit in the car dealership’s service waiting room. It’s been over a year since I brought my car in for maintenance. Any maintenance. No oil change, no air filter change, no brake check, no nothing. The closest I came to this was getting two new tires last year (a month apart) from nails in the tires and the necessary car inspection by the state (which I passed).

My 2006 Scion xB is fun. I love it, I do. But I hate maintenance. Detailing the interior? Forget it. It’s a dust-filled disaster. The outside? I haven’t brought it in to a car wash in never. I figure the rain can take care of the dirt. I even hate going for gas. I don’t know why. I just can’t get myself in gear for car maintenance.

But if I love it, why don’t I take care of it? I kept putting it off, putting it off … until this week when the dashboard flashed – however briefly – “maintenance required.” Okay, that scared me. I made the appointment.

You must understand, although I love my car, I’m not a fan of driving. Maybe that’s the reason for my avoidance. I shudder when I think of driving long distances on the highway. I think it’s a matter of distraction. I’d rather read, write, and observe than actually pay attention to the road. I know this about myself. Other drivers drive me crazy. They, too, are distracted, but pretend they aren’t. They’re a menace. Drivers who drive 20 miles an hour in a 45 MPH zone. People who are distracted by the badly-behaved children bouncing around in the car. People who STILL text and drive. People who continue to use phones to the ear. I can’t stand any of it.

So here I am, an hour into waiting for my car maintenance at the dealership. Comfortable waiting room full of people who’d rather not be here either (most of whom await the monetary damage of the problem). I hear my name called. Nope, not over the loud speaker telling me my car is ready. Instead, the customer service gent who’d checked me in kneels down next to me and … drops the news. I have less than 2 millimeters of tread left on my brakes.

“Uh, what does that mean?,” I ask. But I already know.

What turned into a regular free-low cost maintenance transformed into an expensive roadtrip. Awesome.

Truth be told, though, I can’t remember when I’d gotten my entire brake system changed. Maybe never. I just don’t drive that much. Don’t judge. I used to commute via train into Manhattan made long distance driving unnecessary.

Lucky?

You bet.

This could have ended much differently.

So I have to face it:

What other things am I avoiding or neglecting? It goes hand-in-hand with the question: what’s distracting me from getting things done?

A lot. And that catapults me into overwhelm. But the best way to combat overwhelm is action. I feel much, much better when I MOVE, when I DO. It chips away at the towering mountain of overwhelm.

But I wouldn’t have to do this if I just took care of things as they happened. Daily maintenance, monthly tune-ups, and yearly checks to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual inventory. Every day, do SOMETHING. Not ANYTHING. But SOMEthing to move you forward, to get done what needs getting done.

What if WE came with a maintenance warning sign flashing? We do, sort of. That persistant ache, the lingering pain, the worry that keeps you up at night. You give the same excuse I gave for not taking my car in: “I have no time. I’ll do it next week, next month, next … whenever.” Time goes by in a blink, and before you know it, six months – a year – has passed. Time makes an unresolved problem much, much worse. It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t. Avoidance has consequences. Usually not the kind you want.

Care and maintenance of my car is an extension of myself. My car, my home, my appearance – it’s all me. No one else has responsibility for me and my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Only me. And no one else has responsibility for you – except you.

power

What things are YOU avoiding, neglecting, or ignoring? What’s distracting you from getting things done, from hitting your targets, and accomplishing your goals?

Avoidance, neglect and ignorance are purposeful actions. Time to flip the switch to OTHER purposeful and positive actions.

What’s YOUR commitment to action?

To positive forward motion – and less procrastination!

–Syndee Barwick

 

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