Last night, I held off on writing about Father Ted, and sitcoms in general, so that I could keep that enthusiasm for today, when I intended to sit down and do some more work on my thesis. That was a brilliant plan, but ignored one of my biggest personality flaws. I procrastinate like a motherfucker.
Today I woke up late (11:30, having stayed up until nearly 2 to watch a movie and then having stayed awake in bed for another hour or so), and made a few vague attempts at getting on with things. We ran some errands, I finally vacuumed the living room and did a bit of post-Christmas cleaning in the kitchen. Before I knew it, it was already 4. Then it was 5. Now it’s 6:30, I haven’t made dinner, I haven’t written, and I haven’t done any number of other things I had intended to do today.
I think the problem behind my procrastination is that I come up with ridiculous to do lists in my head. They’re the type of things where ‘perpetual motion machine’ and ‘cure for cancer’ could very well be sat next to ‘cat tray’ and ‘call BT’. All of the items carry equal weight, in a way. Every day I’m destined to fail. The sheer volume of items, and complexity of some of them, mean I will never complete the list in one day. And if I’m not going to complete the whole thing, why bother with any of it. Especially that vague and mysterious line that is always there that just says ‘WRITE’.
There’s something of the bipolar brain at work here, I’m sure. That little manic voice that I work to keep stifled creates the list. It knows that, if it were to break free of those chemical fetters, that list would be achievable in a day. Hell, it’d be finished in an hour, including a coffee break. But the depressed bit up there is fatalist about all of it. Why bother attempting what will only be a failure? None of it will be done right, something will remain unfinished, there’s simply no point in starting. It’s not failure if you never start.
So it rolls on 6:45 and I’ve still not cured cancer.
How do I train myself to not think of all the things that need to be done in the world, but a managable list of tasks? And, more importantly, how do i convince myself that an abridged list is valid?
Aye, there’s the rub.
I know that those normal lists aren’t complete. I know there are other things I need to do, that would be better done today. So if a list isn’t complete, what is the point of having it. It’s a lie.
We moved into this house on 1 November. It’s now 2 January, and I still haven’t fully unpacked my office. My foot is resting on a box as I write this, and it requires a bit of contortion to get in and out of the desk chair without toppling a well-engineered cantilever structure of papers and books. Why haven’t I pulled it all together? Because it will take too long to do it right. The same reason it takes me a full day to clean the smallest room. I can’t do the abridged list. I have to organise the books (Library of Congress is the preferred system, but a rough Dewey Decimal could work in a pinch), I have to scan the photos, I have to dust every key of each of the typewriters.
Everything has to be perfect, done correctly, or else there’s no point in starting. So I don’t start. I don’t start, I don’t finish. I keep making lists and I keep failing. I haven’t cured cancer, I have no perpetual motion machine taking us off grid, and I haven’t called or emailed or written so many companies and people.
But at least today I did write. Even if it wasn’t what I intended to write.