So this monthly mantra thing? I like it so far. You may remember January’s mantra was focus, which was pretty much perfect for me. Distraction is still a problem (I have three small children so…yeah) but I’m getting better + faster at bringing myself back when something pulls me off course. I’m remembering to pay attention to individuals, to details. It’ll be a work in progress, for sure, but I’m creating a habit of reminding myself to focus when I sense myself drifting.
Don’t be surprised if you catch me in real life muttering “focus, Jen, focus” under my breath.
However, while my focus may have improved some, I’m not necessarily using my time any better than I was before. I’m still procrastinating like it’s my job. This is not new. I’ve always tended to put things off till the last minute. It’s terrible and I hate it but I’ve never tried very hard to change my ways.
Until Saturday, that is, when David gave me an unintentional wake up call.
I had gotten about halfway through a back yard improvement project and stalled out, blaming kids or weather or whatever was the easiest scapegoat at the moment. Needing to work off some frustrating and just get something done, he went outside that morning and did a bunch of time consuming prep work for me. Then he took all three kids with him to Tempe…for like four hours.
All the annoying parts of the job were finished. There were no people home to distract me or get in the way. I had plenty of time and all the supplies I needed. So I put on some old clothes, turned on a podcast, and went outside to do the work.
And wouldn’t you know it, I am SO MUCH HAPPIER now that it’s done.
That’s what always happens. I put something off because it’s going to be so much effort, or I don’t know where to start, or there are a million other things I could be doing instead, so I promise myself I’ll do it later. But it mostly comes down to being lazy. Rarely is any project half as difficult as I pretend it’s going to be. When I break it down into steps, it’s easy to see what needs to come first. And if I stop to look at my priorities (there’s that pesky life-as-bonsai idea again) I’m less likely to put easy (but trivial) tasks ahead of difficult (but more satisfying) ones.
It’s all necessary prep work that I don’t want to do. It’s not as fun. But without it, I don’t get to do fun parts at all, and worse? I don’t get the joy of finishing something, on account of it never gets finished.
So this month I’m going to repeat over and over, “DO THE WORK.” Whenever I catch myself making excuses or moving deadlines back—because I know myself and I’ll definitely be doing that—I’ll recenter + remind myself of this simple truth:
The only way to get something done is to do it.