Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Challenge #21 March 2013 – Focusing and Finishing

Yes, I have an emergency kit in place now
 It’s time (beyond time actually) to deal with my procrastination tendencies.

Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.
-Wayne Gretzky

Have you ever put something off because you just didn’t feel like doing it?  The task, no matter how big or small, wasn’t urgent so why not just let it slide until…And then “until” becomes simply never getting around to it?   There are so many easier things you’d rather do, like check your email or Facebook, watch The Daily Show, or even clip your fingernails?  I’m betting that like me, you’ve got those tasks, gathering dust on some written (or mental) to do list – yes?  I decided to dust off the list this month and pick some tasks to accomplish and lighten that mental load – and it was totally worth it.

Why This Challenge
Contemplating my delay in actually starting yoga last month, I decided this would be my next challenge - in the hopes that focusing my energy on this it would also help reduce the tendency to procrastinate on some of the smaller day-to-day household (and occasional work-related) tasks too.  By having this blog and you, my loyal readers as my accountability partners, it really did work.  So here I am (yes on the actual last day of the month - no posting delay after the end of the month like the past few months!) to tell you about it.  I had also read this excellent blog entry on the topic a while ago, and it really stuck with me.

The Strategy
At the beginning of the month I wrote down the ten tasks I wanted to get done by March 31st that I had been putting off, for no good reason – they simply required some focus, effort, and/or time commitment that I hadn’t committed to yet.  I won’t bore you with all of them, but some of the highlights were:  get my car serviced, putting together a decent household emergency kit, making some investment decisions and acting on them, and organizing some papers/magazines that were hanging around the house for way too long, and a bit of gardening that long overdue.

How it Went

Downward Facing Dog in the beautiful Sea of Cortez
It took almost a week until I looked at the list again and started setting aside time to focus on the tasks, but once I got a few of them out of the way, it felt great and I was motivated – why didn’t I do these things sooner?!  But then I was interrupted mid-month by a vacation - one week of unconnected (no internet – yippee!)  total bliss in Mexico for a stand-up paddle and yoga retreat.  It was awesome, and just what I needed to rejuvenate.   I surprisingly even enjoyed the meditation we did, although I didn’t know that was going to be part of it - really hard for me at first, but by the last day I totally enjoyed (and sat still) for a full 45 minutes.  I feel that by creating space in my mind during morning meditation, it helps me afterward to create more space in my day as well.  I have been continuing with occasional fifteen-minute morning meditations since I returned.

With just over a week left, I still had seven (!) more tasks to get done, and a busy workweek as well.  I managed, but just in the nick of time - as I write this I admit I still have one more small financial organization task (about an hours worth of time) to do tonight. I made some serious progress on my upcoming website too, with another good planning/coaching session and logo design – it will launch within a few months. Also, I found that for the past week just having the focus of anti-procrastination on my mind crept into my usual daily “Ten-Things-That-Have-To-Get-Done-Today” (work & personal combined) lists – I would really stay focused throughout the day and make them all happen, rather than putting off the inconvenient/difficult/boring ones until the next day, or the next...   
To Do List - ALL DONE!
 This month has taught me to be more efficient with my time and not get distracted, simply because it feels so good to finish absolutely everything I wanted to do that day, no matter what else comes along and vies for my time. Here’s the best tip I have learned – write your daily To Do list down on paper, and carry it with you wherever you go as that reminder of your intentions for the day - and don’t let someone else’s important become your urgent.

Side Note
I am finding so far this year that my challenge choices are really sticking and building on each other – from unprocessed food to yoga (and meditation), and now I sincerely hope that my conversion to anti-procrastination will stay with me as well. 

How about you – what tasks have you been tackling lately, and what motivated you to get them (all) done?