As a writer, procrastination is my biggest problem.
Often I will walk around with a story in my head, but never quite get around to the task of writing it out. Or maybe it’s already drafted in my journal, and all it needs is to be typed up and tweaked to really bring it to life… but it’s been in that draft form for the last two months.
I love writing, but sometimes it’s hard to focus.
For instance, the other day I say down at the computer, threw open the window for a breath of cold fresh air, and pulled up a new blank document. I glanced sideways at the written draft on my desk. And my mind began to wander.
My eyes latched onto the adorable coffee mug with a redbird emblazoned on it, where I keep my pens and pencils. It was a gift, a very thoughtful one from my brother-in-law. I didn’t realize at the time that he knew how to purchase things online, but he must have figured it out because he ordered personalized redbird coffee mugs for my two sisters and me.
You see, the redbird is a symbol for our Mother.
She lived a rich life full of love and laughter all the way up until she died peacefully in her sleep at 89. Mom always loved the color red, and while she hailed from St. Louis – home of the Cardinals baseball team – she had a fondness for redbirds of any kind.
We sisters agreed that those pretty little birds reminded us of Mom. She always made everyone around her feel special, and the appearance of a redbird would bring that same warm feeling back to us.
Whenever I miss my mother, I see a redbird and know she is checking in.
This happens all the time now that she’s gone, and the entire extended family will call the others with each sighting.
I love hearing their excited voices shouting, “I saw a redbird! I saw a redbird! Grandma Esther is visiting!” It doesn’t take much – one of the grandkids getting an award at school, a challenging time in someone’s life, a niece who just had a baby…
“Focus!” suddenly yells Dolly Drill Sergeant. “Focus!”
Okay, no one was actually yelling… This was merely the abrupt awareness that my thoughts had drifted off. I have lots of voices in my head (don’t we all?), and I’ve named them so I can respond and give them a piece of my mind when needed. This time, though, I knew Dolly had a point.
Consider last week when I had an hour before starting dinner – a perfect window of time to bang out an 800-word article, right?
I had just finished emptying summer clothes from my closet and there was a mess of hangers, socks, and shoes lying on the floor and strewn across the bed. After I tidied that up, I went to the kitchen for a cup of tea to sustain me… but I stopped along the way to straighten the kitchen junk drawer.
When I’d finally brought my tea to my desk, I proceeded to test all the ballpoint pens in my redbird coffee mug pen holder. That ended with three pens in the wastebasket and a little giddy excitement at finding a long-lost gold Cross pen.
With what little time was left, I still managed to crank out a pretty darn good first draft.
I’ve noticed that even though I procrastinate all the time, I always manage to get the job done and it usually always turns out just fine. So I decided that day to let it in. To make room for it. Perhaps it’s my brain’s way of telling me it needs a little longer to marinate that idea I jotted down in my journal this morning.
So I’m allowing it a spot on the agenda.
Let’s say 10% of my time. That’s six minutes of every hour. Not a big deal, it feels like just enough. Things like drawer straightening, ballpoint pen testing, and closet tidying will not only give me some satisfaction, but also remove the lure of procrastination! With those little random chores out of the way, I can then focus more clearly. So I choose to see this as a good thing.
Oh, and you’ll never guess what I wrote about!
My supernatural redbird sighting the morning after my mother’s death.
What tasks usually cause you to procrastinate?
Do you have a good cure for procrastination?
Please share in the comments!