Tag Archives: anxiety

The Inconclusive Dissection: Mind Half-Full or Half-Empty?

If we go on the premise that procrastinators think too much, then perhaps it’s reasonable to assume that my mind is really full. Well, better than empty, I guess? I guess! And, yes, I guess it could be a possible explanation as to why nothing tangible and concrete is coming out of my head. That’s because everything is so crammed inside, I guess!

Yes, my ideas are packed to the point of having no room to breathe or move, so they just stay within my mind and discuss among themselves. That is where all my stories are, I promise! And when they spend so long there, telling and retelling many variations over, they are already exhausted and left wanting in energy to escape. Furthermore, it feels as though the story has been told, we know the twists and turns, and feel as though the world should look inside to find out what we’ve done, instead of us always having to come out and show what we do. Understand? Understand!

I understand that I am probably deluding myself, but these thoughts are still true. If I think hard enough, I can save myself the step of publication. Save paper? But how do I convince people to take the plunge, to take that leap of faith, and just look inside my mind? To trust me? Trust me!

These were my thoughts during a dinner date in a restaurant with candles. Sitting across from me was an articulate, more good-looking that I deserve, attractive doctor, with experience. I sensed that that my luck may be changing and that it won’t be long before my mind starts opening up.

After a few sips of wine, and samplings of appetizer, I started getting a tingly sensation emanating from the inner portion of both stockingless legs underneath the table. I guess I just had a feeling when choosing what not to wear for the night. Just as he was proposing a toast to ‘I don’t know what’, I clanged his glass while debating within myself whether or not my partner is a surgeon or not. Admittedly, my relationship with him has not gotten deep enough yet for me to acquire this knowledge.

But, oh my, what if he were a surgeon? A surgeon! My imagination went wild in considering the possibilities. And I downed my glass of wine with sumptuous enthusiasm and determination. Would he have the tools and the requisite skills to dissect me? I couldn’t giggle outwardly at such a delicious thought so, instead, I crossed my legs so my skirt wouldn’t be as much of an intrusive censor, and I flexed and extended my ankle continuously, as if to communicate that my heart was jumping up and down with joy? Unequivocal joy!

If there was any way that he could do a professional dissection of me, but preferably with a particular emphasis on the artistic, then finally, at long last, he could really, literally, open up my mind and the world can see the unadulterated stories I have completed!  They’ll know I haven’t been lying all this time. They’ll trust me that I’ve been hard at work!

I suddenly felt incredibly sexy at that moment, more sexy that I’ve felt in my entire life. I didn’t know how much was left of my legs under the table at that point. With all the gyrations going on, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had exercised away all the skin and left them see-through. Oh, poor doctor, I could see it in his eyes, and his focus on his steak, that he had no clue what was going on under there!

I watched intently how he cut up the steak, savoring enough time to allow the juices to bubble over, so he could observe the satisfaction before making it disappear within his mouth, thereby intensifying the the senses at least twofold. That’s a good sign. Maybe he is a surgeon? A surgeon! The thought of him opening me up with such care and focus, like he did that steak, made me lose a button somewhere in my skirt.

I was so ready, I was so much in the mood for desire and intimacy. So, I quickly apologized to him for having to leave early and cut short our dinner together. I declined his offer for a ride, left him alone to finish the rest of his steak (as a surgeon should definitely not leave an operation half completed), and ran all the way home in such a mad rush that there was barely a trace of clothing on me when I arrived.

I have to work harder now. Think harder, deeper, even more intensely than ever before. Patience, my thoughts, patience, as I will bring more characters into an already tight space. But, patience, because now I know that you will soon all get to see the light of day. We must think together on this and get as much inside as possible before the surgeon arrives? Promise me that when that time comes for me to have an operation, you kids will not be hiding somewhere inside. All this work and to have him open me up to find nothing? Nothing!

-Dawn

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A Shorter Tale of the Tape (Nonfiction Version?)

Here is another variation on how procrastination can be manifested. Remember yesterday when I wrote about a practical joke played at work to provide some levity to lighten up the air a bit? Now, let me turn that on its head and be absolutely serious.

In my idealistic, almost romantic version, I obviously left a lot of important details out. Is that another danger of procrastination? We write and purposely put off describing the difficult aspects? We do everything, elaborate ad nauseum, within the comfort zone, and stop right before we get to truth?

I don’t mean to say that what I described yesterday wasn’t truthful. It just wasn’t the whole story. To refresh our memories of what happened yesterday, a quick summary of my ‘easy’ story goes like this: Someone asked to borrow the tape; I told them to look it up in the computer and search the online catalogue; those who played along searched for a book I referenced, and found the tape I placed beside the book; I then asked a staff member to please put the roll of tape in the catalogue, so people can search for it directly. All who played along got some laughs out of this.

I guess, in yesterday’s more vivid and fuller description of the story, I may have gone overboard with the potential health benefits for all. I also conveniently left out parts of the story that involved those people who didn’t play along too kindly. What about them?

While most customers played along with polite amusement, there was one patron who just shook his head. There were others who, even though silent, I can read from their faces and body language these messages: “I just want the tape! How hard could that be?” And “Stop wasting my time.”  Actually, you can kind of tell as a patron approaches who is in a rush, who is in a mood to play, and who just wants no nonsense.

The games we play in the process of procrastination, even though the delay was intended to instill a sense of mystery and curiosity rather than always providing the same old same old dry answers right away, these games can pop someone’ blood vessels if used inappropriately.

The tape is over there, beside the photocopier.

-Pat

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Procrastination’s Weak Rebuttal?

It may be time to toughen up the exterior a bit, so it reflects more ideally the fires burning within. I can’t say that many of the posts here have been very much of the aggressive nature, but is it now time? Rage, rage, rage.

It started with innocent chatting over warm drinks that must include honey, but then it somehow it came around to some heated debate about the merits of a blog with procrastination as its title theme. I was urged to changed the title because it automatically predisposes readers to have a certain expectation when they visit, and usually those impressions are not overly positive. And if the focus is on the writing, on a variety of creative and current event topics, then it all gets consumed under that overhanging shadow of procrastination. Writing that has nothing to do with procrastination would get unfairly interpreted under that rubric.

Furthermore, they say, we would waste too much time trying to pigeon hole or slot writing into some relation with procrastination when the topic had no business even being in the vicinity. In addition, we would have our hands tied and be forced to write about procrastination every odd post even though there is no reason to. (I guess they wouldn’t approve of this current post I’m crapping out right now) And this would take valuable time away from other more important writing. Then they went on a psychological bent: It’s as if even when there are no procrastination issues, we purposely seek them out and create procrastination problems for ourselves!

By this time, I was the only one finished my drink with honey because the others were too occupied expressing their views. If the drink wasn’t warm enough to begin with, I am sure I was easily able to reheat it to the boiling point within my intestines. However, by the time the steam was able to make its way back up my system towards my mouth, it all dissipated into the form of mild voice that asked weakly, ‘So what is wrong with this procrastination rubric?’

Oh, and then the chorus came! All together in tremendous chorus! The chorus came raining down in unison! They said people often don’t go too close to the actual writing because they are turned away by the monstrous label. They fear being bombarded by a big group of postings in high pitched voices lamenting and commiserating about how so and so didn’t do what, and how such and such didn’t get what done, and a whole bunch of it’s okay, it’s okay, you’re okay, I’m okay, it’s all okay, you’re human kind of discourse.

Finally, I stood up. I stood up to them, or maybe just stood up in front of them. And said confidentally, “I have to go to the washroom.” Must have been the drink mixed with honey. Instead, I went home and browsed through all the posts to try to spot themes of ‘I’m okay, you’re okay…’

Maybe I should tone down my aggressiveness?

-pat

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The Danger and Importance of Expectations

When stuck in my own vicious cycle of procrastination for a long time, sometimes I get so habituated into the comfort of delay and using rationalizations automatically that they do not seem unreasonable or give off any warning signals. I find that in these cases, watching others, and their various manifestations of procrastination can then help give reflection on what I do myself in other contexts.

When seeing another person put off doing something for the wrong reasons, and diluting life in the process, we obviously are aware how counterproductive these behaviours can be. Maybe this can stir within us the action to change these very same behaviours that we display ourselves but have chosen to ignore for so long.

I was talking with a diligent student about her portfolio assignment. Her first set of entries are due later this week and we were discussing ideas about how to present it creatively, emotionally, symbolically, and in a way that shows evidence of work and experience, as well as progression of improvement and reflection on what the student learned from her experiences.

Throughout our discussions, the student was very animated and showed emotion and depth when telling stories from her childhood that she thought worthwhile to include in the beginning part of her portfolio to show how they influenced her thinking of today. We then thought together about possibilities on how to present it on the pages. Various images, drawings, and photograph suggestions came up, and the student was enthused about the creative potential and how meaningful this project is.

However, her tone changed when talk started focusing on the specific deadline and answering some of the required questions given by the teacher. She decided to give up on themes of presentation and style, and creative story telling, and instead decided to give short answers to answer directly, or maybe just do a traditional essay format. I encouraged her to try combine some of her previous ideas of pictures and symbols along with the traditional writing method, but she was reluctant.

Her reasons knocked me back a bit, but also woke me up to some of the fears that people have. She admitted that the teacher encouraged creative thinking and use of other material to supplement answers for the portfolio project. The student, from our previous discussions, obviously enjoyed creative work and finding, and interpreting meaning from stories and using pictures as symbols and metaphors. Despite all this, she reasoned that “I can’t put in extra pictures and other materials for this first entry. If I do, then the teacher will expect that I will always put in extra, and what if I can’t in the future? I better just do it safe and directly, and just get it done.”

Suddenly I realized, if this student is saying something like this, then in classrooms all over the world, many students are thinking similar thoughts and a lot of potential is being stifled. The grip of fear and worry can be so strong that a student may avoid producing something that is meaningful by focusing on the future expectations of others. Attention is taken away from current content to hypothetical implications. Furthermore, maybe even more tragic, is that many of us see high expectations as negative and something to fear. If a teacher expects to see creative thought and critical thinking in unique forms, then that can push the student to keep pushing her thinking in future projects.

Unfortunately, for those who struggle with anxiety that may lead to procrastination and putting off tasks, we seek out safety to avoid expectations.  While there is a feeling of danger in others’ expecations, and our own, they are also places and new heights that we can reach within that are not possible without expectations.

-Pat

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Workout Injury: Danger with Internal Weights

Hello. My name is Pierce. I have been away, as usual. This time, working out. If I am going to procrastinate, I may as well use that time to expand my gluteal muscles and make a claim to the title of strongest procrastinator in the world. Olympic dreams.

The workout wasn’t that good at all. In fact, when all was said and done, my head and mind seemed to be pumping more than my lower body. Why? The locker room cameras preoccupied my thoughts. It made me think, yet again. Not again.

I’m sure we have heard of the expression “he was conspicuous by his absence.” This led me to think that it’s also possible to be conspicuous by trying to be inconspicuous. These are my exact feelings every time I enter into the gym locker room that have surveillance cameras installed. By looking around to see if anybody is looking at me, I think this draws attention and makes me look suspicious. Worse still, when I glance frantically around my surroundings trying to spot those cameras, and make eye contact with the lens, those eyes on the other side suddenly get aroused, focused, thinking that I am about to do something?

What did I do? All I am really doing on these occasions is trying to find the most opportune time to slip my valuable possessions, such as my keys and wallet, into the locker without anyone noticing. I simply do not want anyone to see that I am potentially leaving worthwhile items while I work out. In practicing prevention, I look like a suspect. Those eyes in the sky must really be wondering why I am sitting and waiting in the locker room for such a long period of time? And why I keep looking around? And why I only spring into action when the crowds are gone? Gosh, I feel guilty just thinking about it.

As for my workouts that I had, during my time away from here, when I finally got to them, and started lifting, I just couldn’t do much. Didn’t really add any plates, because I contantly kept collapsing under my own body weight.

How come being not guilty feels so horrible?

-Pierce

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Switching Gears by Using Paper to Cover Fire

I am scared. I like quiet. I’m easily bothered by noise. I spend much of my days in libraries. I get startled and jump out of my seat quite easily. So, because of all these points and characteristics, I think I’ve generated enough reasons to support why I’m a slow driver. What in the world is the link?

I drive a standard. Most of the people I know say I am a waste of a standard and do it disgrace. They say it’s painful to sit in the passenger side of my car while watching me drive as if I’m on eggshells. In a nutshell, I drive slow, or more accurately, I am slow to accelerate and reach peak speed. The exact reason for this is because I shift too quickly. People are right, I do.

And here is when the connection to noise and disturbances come back full circle. When trying to hold down the gas longer before shifting gears, the car gets noisy as you rev. I often find it noisy even at 3000 rpms and shift at or just under this number. The passengers shake their heads in disgust. And I guess if there are cars behind me stopped at a traffic light, they shake their fists (and the odd finger) in disgust when the light turns green because it’s obvious that I lose speed and momentum when shifting. I am sorry.

Whenever the rpms go up, and I hear that noise, am I intuitively thinking I’m doing damage to the car? Or, am I suddenly thrust into the role of a sadist when I’m obviously more stable and at home at the other end, according to every single psychological test that I have ever done. Of course other drivers are not going to have the patience to allow me to get out of my car and explain this at the next set of lights. So, another solution is needed.

How can I resist my natural tendency to shift gears in search of quiet and to avoid the noise of high rpms? Well, this past week, I test drove an idea with music. I increased the volume of my tunes and purposely selected music that was not gentle. In this way, the music slightly covered up, softened, or insulated a bit of the sound from the engine. And I also decided to not look at my rpm gauge, since I tend to automatically switch when the dial hits 3.

Admittedly, it worked. I felt something, a little bit, just a small bit of that adrenalin that they always advertise to full throttle in those car commercials. I have never taken Viagra, but is this what they mean when they say what they mean…you know what I mean?

Anyways, just like what they mean, you can’t keep it up forever, especially if it’s just not in your personality. Soon after, I was getting bothered by the loud music and trying to think of ways to cover up and drown out that noise. Eventually, quite naturally, I didn’t have to look hard to hear another sound that clearly smothered everything else to minimalistic background. My beating heart!

These days, beside my insurance, license, and registration info, I keep copies containing results of my psychological tests and medical records. In case other drivers, passengers, or even police, are curious why I switch gears so early.

-Patrick Law

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Can I Get Another Set of Eyes to Look at This?

Hello. I am Pierce. I’ve been away. Doing what? Living out and piloting another idea for this procrastinator diary post. That’s my modus operandi. Have an idea. Go away. Leave. Disappear. Not write. Not write. Again, not write. Be left in peace with my procrastination. So, I can play out my ideas. Put it in action. Do some experiments. Come back. And, write.

Here is what I found during my time away. That, ironically, my isolated time spent alone has not been very productive. There was no urgency. There were no other set of eyes. There were no threats of evaluation, feedback, or witnesses to give evidence that I was living. Nobody noticed. Honey, telling people what I did during the day does not have the same effect as showing them directly what I do as they watch me.

This result and realization surprised me. I didn’t know. Look at me. I’m ashamed. I’m not as tough, insensitive, nor oblivious as I thought I was. Look at me. I’m writing. I’m working. Look at me. I need you. It’s so hard for me to say, but it is. God, I need people.

Is it so that I am not as intrinsically motivated as I thought? Funny. During this time away, I got more accomplished in two hours in the evening with all kinds of people buzzing around in the home and not much done during 8 hours of silence during the day. Is it the people I need or the sense that time is running out in the day?

Maybe I do need the pressure. Both with time and with people. So, for my next hiatus, can I test this out by throwing myself into an audience at every opportunity? Have an open house accompany me wherever I go?
However, if I end up getting the eventual stage fright, and don’t go through with this, procrastinators of course always have a backup plan to avoid being thrown into the social fire.

I’m already hard at work conjuring up which imaginary eyes to permanently engrave into my mind, so that daggers threaten to rain upon me at my every move. And just in case my imagination fails me, I’ve been drawing numerous eyes so intense that they need not other bodily features to disclose the identities they have provided for eternal history. These eyes ranging from all time will be placed all over my wall in case I try to waste my life again. On one upper corner example, from Zeus to Sisyphus to Medea to Kafka to Plath to Thurber. With these eyes giving me attention, how dare I not take risks to go deeper!

-Pierce

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