Avoiding avoidance ...
May 20, 2011
I'd say that, in some ways, I'm an avoidance expert.
Avoidance. I remember when my passport was expired, as was my medicare card and my driver's license. Other things always felt "more important" to me. It never felt like there was "enough time."
I'm a careful driver - so there was little risk of being stopped. I'm healthy - no need to go to a doctor. I did, at one point, need to leave the country. And then, urgency.
If there's no urgency, I may be hit with overwhelming exhaustion at even the thought of doing what I'm been avoiding. I can't keep my eyes open. This may happen any time I get near whatever I haven't dealt with.
How to overcome procrastination? How to deal with avoidance behavior? I think I've been better at how to avoid procrastination than actually overcoming procrastination.
But I have found one just about foolproof method (for me) for overcoming procrastination.
Sitting down to write about how to avoid procrastination, I was tempted to start by listing all the things I don't avoid -in other words, I'm not a total procrastinator. But what good would that do? Of course I don't avoid everything. In fact, I got started writing this in order to avoid doing something else.
That brings me right to my most powerful bits of avoidance behavior: doing something else that pulls me more - which can get me to becoming a bit like Nero who is famous for fiddling while Rome burned.
The way I've always heard the phrase, it meant that he just didn't care about Rome, or was even delighting in the burning of Rome.
But what if he was really avoiding? What if he had long avoided dealing with the fire department, because it was such fun for him to play his violin?
I'm remembering a recent month when all my energy went into putting together a poetry collection and then getting it online in a way that felt right to me.
A lot of other things didn't get done. But that wasn't avoidance.
Avoidance. I remember spending an entire month not doing a minute of work on my doctoral thesis - when I had just arranged for 8 months off to write it.
Avoidance. Sometimes I've avoided marking student quizzes for over a month - stacks of them piling up.
Avoidance over the past few months - and all my life, actually. Financial paperwork. Like, tax stuff. Somehow I never have time. Somehow the day rushes past.
I'm good at paying the bills - no avoidance. But the accounting, I avoid.
So, how to overcome procrastination? Or at least, how to avoid avoidance?
This isn't a recipe. It's just what has worked for me.
My best technique: leave home, go somewhere else - the library, a friend's. Somehow there I stop avoiding, and work. So I've gone to the library and done a month's worth of quiz marking in a few hours.
Nuts - all that weight on my shoulders, all for 4 hours' work.
Even better than going to the library has been attending a department meeting, and half listening while marking quizzes. Unfortunately department meetings were usually only about 2 hours long, not enough to get fully caught up - but what an amazing difference one would make.
Currently, a friend lives about a five-minute drive away. I like my home much better. But saying to myself: I'm sure I'll do the work at home today ... for me, that's a trap, over and over. I'm convinced it's true, in the morning. I'm half convinced, in the afternoon. By early evening, I know I've once more conned myself.
So out I go.
My inner pattern is so strong that, at this place, if we chat for more than a few minutes, I put a stop to it. I'm not there to avoid, but to avoid avoidance.
I'm remembering going to a friend's long ago, in my thesis writing days. I would arrive. She would be getting ready to leave. "I can't stay," she would stay. It didn't matter. I didn't care if she was around or not. I stayed and worked.
Maybe in some ways I'm like one of Pavlov's dogs. For them, you could ring a bell and they'd salivate. For me, if I've started avoiding at home, then being at home is so closely associated with not doing whatever it is, that being at home is almost an insurmountable obstacle.
Being at a friend's, however, is associated with getting things done - and so I do them.
I have another technique as well - not letting myself go to sleep until I've put 15 minutes into doing something I've avoided.
Of course there I have to hold myself to keeping my promises to myself.
Affirmations have helped with that - writing 15 times, "I stay up until I have worked for 15 minutes on my thesis."
Just making myself work 15 minutes before going to sleep can change everything. With my thesis, within a few days I was working on my thesis 30 minutes, then an hour, then getting started in the morning and working for hours.
But in that case, the block was all about starting. I was actually interested in writing the thesis.
It's different when it come to organizing money stuff.
So in that case, only the more drastic measure works - going somewhere else.
This isn't a recipe for success. It also doesn't clear out the reason for the block.
I don't care. It gets the job done, which is what I care about. Without the technique, I don't.
I also have a technique for heading off avoidance. Doing the first thing immediately, before avoidance has set in. The problem is that, over and over, I'm like a dieter who falls of a diet, and once off, the pounds creep back on - and here, the avoidance creeps back in.
Then I'm very grateful that I have found one way out of the avoidance quagmire.
And that is why, later today, I will again leave home and take myself to my friend's and face organizing papers.
How to overcome procrastination? I haven't overcome it. But I've learned how to sidestep it.
Responses and your own experiences very welcome.
How to overcome procrastination?
In a way, it's like overcoming
any mental block.
How to break down a wall?
Sometimes I don't.
How to overcome procrastination,
Diary blogs, blog journals
stopping avoidance behavior.
to check out
to a king
a good life?
I feel lost
a dark night
of the soul
How to overcome procrastination? How to avoid procrastination?
How to overcome procrastination? How to avoid procrastination?
How to overcome procrastination? How to avoid procrastination?How to overcome procrastination? How to avoid procrastination? How to overcome procrastination? How to avoid procrastination? How to overcome procrastination?