Sunday, July 19, 2015

Procrastination




I have never been a procrastinator, probably part of my possible OCD (see this blog entry). If I have to do something I stress until it is done. I stress partly because I might forget to do it on time, but also I worry that it might take longer than anticipated and if I don't start immediately I could miss whatever deadline had been set.

Take for instance, doing our taxes, I install the tax software the moment it arrives, usually late November, then open it every few days to apply the multiple updates as tax forms and rules change. I watch and wait for the various 1099s and W3s and any other tax documents, knowing full well they won't arrive until the beginning of February. The moment I have all the documentation, I get my taxes done. If I have a refund due, I file immediately and breath a sigh of relief as another task is ticked off. Obviously, if I owe money I won't file until close to the due date - but I put a reminder in my calendar and it is usually about two weeks prior to the final filing date, because I would consider it to be procrastination otherwise.

Annual review time at work tends to cause considerable stress. The moment I get the notification to complete my self appraisal, I am in there getting it done. In a previous job, my boss was a procrastinator and would schedule review for the day before they were due to be completed and submitted. This caused me endless amounts of stress because any form of procrastination disturbs me, not just my own. I guess it all stems from the same source - my absolute abhorrence with being late for anything.

But there is another force in play, particularly when the task is unpleasant or difficult, then I have to deal with it immediately in order to get it over with and so that I can stop thinking about it. And believe me, I find review time very unpleasant, and not because I expect to get a bad review, it is because I find it equally uncomfortable to get a good one. I just find the entire process embarrassing.

Doing some research on the subject I find that the extreme opposite to procrastination is precrastination, which could be considered equally undesirable. The happy medium is being proactive. I would like to consider myself proactive.

The problem I see is that I might just be a precrastinator. In my determination to get things done immediately, I may go at it too fast, where giving the matter more thought and planning could possibly have a better outcome. Take for example, recently we planned a long weekend away. I booked two days vacation at work well in advance, advised everyone I would be out of the office and set my out of office rule, ready to be turned on before I left. Then we thought perhaps the trip we planned would be too much for my mother in law and might tire her out, so we decided to cancel it. The next day I cancelled my two days vacation, deleted my out of office notification and told my colleagues I would not be gone after all. When I got home from work I discovered another change of plan - my mother in law insisted she wanted to go and so the trip was on again. I had to rebook my vacation days and go through the setting notifications and advising colleagues all over again, so instead of saving time I actually tripled my work for that one weekend.

What started me on this vein of thought was the fact that I had fully packed for a trip, 4 days prior to departure. All that was left to pack was my toiletries and makeup. Instead of feeling the relief from getting that major task out of the way, I felt strangely uncomfortable.I felt like I should be doing something, I worried about my clothes being crushed - which of course they will be, but as I will be traveling for approximately 20 hours, I doubt they could get any more crushed. I worry about what I had packed and, more important, what I had not packed. I check and double check, add more items 'just in case' and generally stress every bit as much as I would have, had I left my packing to the last minute. Plus there is a strong likelihood that I will need something from my case before I actually leave. And now I have nothing to do but wait for my departure date.

The problem is that I get way more stressed if I put things off till the last minute, and according to this website, procrastination is extremely damaging to your health.

I would like to work at just hitting the proactive range, but if that is not possible, I will stick to precrastination, being in my mind the lesser of the two evils.