How Routines Can Beat Procrastination and Bring Abundant Joy to Your Life
Some of us have a knack for procrastination. For those of us who do, there’s always something shiny and beckoning just out of view. There’s always a creative project that’s more enticing and a rabbit hole so worth setting aside an important task to go explore.
I hesitate to say I’m a procrastinator because that might connote laziness. I’ve never been accused of being lazy. In fact, having an overload of projects in process is how I happily roll. Putting off tedious and uninteresting tasks in favor of interesting tasks. That’s what I do.
Growing older, and somewhat wiser, I’ve come to realize how valuable it is to “have everything handled” on a regular basis. I learned by watching others that when the routine necessities are completed quickly it leaves time and space for the activities that make us jump out of bed in the morning. You might call it the feng shui of time.
In feng shui, there’s the principle of leaving some drawers, shelves and areas in your home empty. The idea is that if every available space is crammed full of stuff, there’s no breathing space. Without a space to breathe, there’s no relaxation, reflection or environment conducive to creativity.
Recently having faced the sudden onset of a medical condition requiring powerful medications for an extended period, I’m reminded yet again how having things handled on a routine basis rather than procrastinating adds to life’s enjoyment. Since the holidays, I found myself putting off a few things I had promised myself I would take care of early in the new year. No such luck as the medications had me loopy, wobbly and drowsy for the better part of the day for ten days straight.
It seems there’s always something ready to derail us either by choice or bad luck. That’s where routines come in. Right-brained creative sorts despise routine and any sort of tedium generally.
Right-brained people love to think random thoughts and do random things. Just because it’s fun. It is a mighty challenge for a creative sort to commit and follow through on routines we’ve set for ourselves. I’m amazing at creating systems. It’s the follow through that’s the challenge.
So how to keep all the best intentions you’ve set for yourself? Routines, I say. Here are three things I do to try to keep myself on track.
Put Routine Activities on a Calendar
Salon appointments, the dog’s medications, auto maintenance, birthdays and anniversaries, etc. The more routine activities you can schedule on your calendar, the more time you’ll find available for enjoyable activities. This allows you to group activities together to get more done in less time. Even the routine activities become more enjoyable because you’ve budgeted time for them. And you’ll get a small high from efficiently completing several tasks in a short space of time.
Break Major Projects Down Into Chunks
For projects that require several days, weeks or months to complete, break them down into numerous small tasks that can be accomplished in short order. Then block out times on your calendar to get them done.
Make Lists and Cross Off Your Accomplished Tasks
Making lists and marking off completed tasks is most satisfying. A sense of accomplishment is a great motivator. Most people use paper and pen to do this. I use a free online system called Trello which syncs with the app on my smartphone as well.
Trello allows me to organize everything I am responsible for into a highly fluid and easily organized list. And best of all, Trello allows me to physically drag items from my “To Do List” to my “Completed Tasks List”. I have been known to sigh audibly while using Trello.
By calendaring and accomplishing goals for those activities required to keep our lives humming along, we simultaneously create space for reflection and renewal, time for friends and family and energy for creative endeavors.
Feng shui your life for more time and more joy this year!
What routines do you use to keep yourself on track? Please let me know in the comments!