Ever notice how, when you’re trying to find the time to do something intimidating, your most boring and mundane chores become really compelling? I experience this frequently when writing (especially if I’ve got a bit of writer’s block) or when I’m faced with doing anything for which I feel less than 110% competent. As in, I should spend a couple of hours working on that novel I’m rewriting but, darn, I also need to clean my clothes, my car, my house, so maybe I should just get them out of the way and then I’ll be able to concentrate. Unless of course I then remember that I need groceries, or there are bills to be paid.
The enticing thing is, these are all such legitimate tasks it’s really easy to let them take over the priority list and not even feel as though we’re procrastinating. They’re like stealth excuses, so undeniably useful we’re not aware they’ve usurped our more important activities until the day’s done and all we have to show for it is a gleaming home and piles of brilliantly clean clothes.
I’d be living in a state of super cleanliness if I didn’t follow the trick every woman who gets anything accomplished knows: I schedule my important stuff into my calendar. Not that this is foolproof, but it helps. Sometimes it results in me sitting in front of my computer for an hour writing and then deleting thousands of words. And that appears to be way less fruitful than doing laundry, but in fact it’s a necessary (if irritating) part of the writing process for me. So I try to stick with it.
It’s unfortunately easy to cheat, so I’ve also started writing down the night before three things I want to get done the next day but am likely to procrastinate on because they’re difficult. I don’t always remember and these tricks don’t always work, but I am making progress. I tell myself Rome wasn’t built in a day. They probably had laundry that got in the way.