Sometimes, it’s hard to get motivated to do things just when they need to be done and it can be for different reasons. The year I retired, I planned to leave work at Christmas, which I did. But from September to December, I floated through my life in a golden haze, counting off the brown envelopes until Christmas and my exit day, when I was giving a farewell speech. Came leaving day, the speech was given and I finally left for home for the last time carrying the detritus of nearly 30 years of work, only to realise when I got home that I had not posted my Christmas cards and it was already too late to do so: last posting day was over. I got over it and no one complained to me but I sent out an unChristmas card to my list in February, with a poem apologising for not sending the usual card. Sometimes, that kind of tardiness can leave you with long lasting regrets, for instance, if you lost a loved one before you manage to catch up with the tasks you intended to do. Procrastination can be as simple as just “not getting round to it”. In our house, my very organised husband would not be able to stick having a Christmas tree up after the 12 days are over but if you have difficulty getting a big job like that done all at once, then do a bit at a time. Take down the tinsel one time, another time, remove a few decorations, each time, taking down only what you can also PACK AWAY for next year. So the tiny job is, “take down a bit, pack away that bit”. This is a good technique for any big job you procrastinate over.
Hiding away in a comfort zone can feel safe; but without attention, even a comfort zone can become uninhabitable. Comfort zones have been called those places located between the fire and the ice, that place where you are neither too hot nor too cold. They have also been called “Goldilocks zones”, where things are neither too hot nor too cold, neither too big, nor too little, but just right!. Stepping outside a Goldilocks zone can feel risky, you might get burnt, or too chilly but staying put sometimes has even bigger risks: and procrastination can mean your personal comfort zone begins to decay with the possibility of a very uncomfortable and catastrophic ejection.
I know how this feels. As a student, there were many projects to turn in and the organised people in the class asked to have plenty of time in which to present their perfect projects, grrr! So at the start of the semester, we were given several projects which did not need to be submitted until much later on. Of course, because there was plenty of time in which to do them, they didn’t seem urgent at the time. They, of course, didn’t get started until late on in the semester, by which time there were several projects due, all of which were now urgent. All the lecturers, who were probably all organised themselves, couldn’t understand why anyone needed extra time and I ended up writing until 3 am some nights, trying to finish (or even start) something I had had weeks to do!