Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Was That Thing I Needed To Do?

Around this time of year, I start to get frantic. Not because I'm not getting things done - I AM! But because of the list of things still left to do. And if I sit down and write it all out on paper, I get even more frantic, because then it's actually visible, this list, and while the joy of scratching something off is tempting, the fear of having to add two or three more things just wrecks it.

So I commit these "things to do" to memory, and then wind up waking up at 2:00am, saying to myself - now WHAT was that thing I needed to do tomorrow?

And the worst part? I am a relentless procrastinator. I don't know why I do this to myself, but I've learned over the years that I work much better under pressure. Only trouble with that is, I get high-strung having to deal with stuff at the last minute, and I get frustrated when the time I've allotted for each task actually winds up taking a bit longer than I anticipated, and then I truly do get behind with no time left to finish everything on the ubiquitous list.

Mark tries to help - he tries to put "early" pressure on me - pushing me a bit to get something started, get me off my butt, stop piddling. Sometimes it works. Sometimes just the momentum of getting started with something gets me on a roll. It's the idea of the task that shuts me down the most, not the actual "doing" it. Because for all my procrastinating - I'm also a finisher - that is, once a task is underway, I MUST COMPLETE IT.

After 38 years of living, you'd think I would have this down to a science, and would have learned to use my strengths and squash my weaknesses when things get busy. Well, the best I can say? I'm trying. I really am! Yesterday I got most of my Christmas cards written. I still need to write a few update letters for some of them - relatives we haven't seen in a few years usually get a letter. And last names beginning with Q through Z still await me. But what did I have to sacrifice to get A-P mostly done? Time with my boys. And I hate that. Jonathan in particular can almost sense when I need extra time to myself and I'm trying to get stuff done, because he picks those times to be especially needy. He wants to read, he wants to watch a movie with me, he needs a drink, he needs a hug. Then he comes in and stands next to my chair, silent, until I acknowledged him and said "Now WHAT?" And he says "Mommy, I just wanted to tell you I love you." Sigh. Well, that's sweet baby, but Mommy NEEDS to get this done!! That's what I thought. What I DID, was pull him up on my lap and cuddled for a bit. Then threw him out so I could get more done.

And right now? I'm procrastinating even more. SHOULD be getting food ready for an office party we're supposed to be attending this afternoon. SHOULD be getting more cards written. SHOULD be working on that update letter. SHOULD be making a list for the market with all the stuff I'm going to need for baking and for holiday meals and things I want to make ahead and freeze. SHOULD be putting in a few hours of work so I don't have to work tonight after dinner so we can finish decorating our Christmas tree. SHOULD start wrapping some gifts while Jonathan is out of the house at school. SHOULD do some more cleaning, more laundry. Oops. I said I wasn't going to write it all down, didn't I?


Ohighway said...

Sounds like someone has a real bad case of the "shoulds". To me that's an indicator of too many things on the "to do" list.

Ever get the impression that we have it all wrong? You certainly aren't the first person to lament how much needs to be done... particularly this time of year. Where's the love and joy in that ????

I think holiday cards and gifts, other than to those in the immediate family, should be ditched. Those outside of the immediate circle can be dealt with at other times of the year. And really... wouldn't that be more meaningful? To get a card or gift out of the blue, not attached to any particular date. I think so. They'd know they got it because you were thinking of them, and not because it was some agreed upon holiday.

The other benefit, of course, would be to thin out that "to do" list, and to allow you to lavish time and attention on those closest to you.

Rebecca said...

I'm liking your idea...except for one small issue. I hate to say it, but for some of these people who get cards and/or gifts...well, if it weren't for christmas, I'm not sure we'd ever be in contact! And that makes no sense at all!

Life is unfortunate that way - we move, we move on, take other jobs, etc... The friends we make sometimes drift in and out of our lives. Even some relatives who live far away and we haven't seen them in 20 years.

But you know what? Despite the differences in our lives, our time zones, our geography....when I get a Christmas greeting from a far-off friend, and read about their year, their new puppy, new baby, new house, new job....I get a case of the warm fuzzies all over again. Sometimes the news isn't happy - and that makes me sad, but still, the connection is there, and maybe that's all part of the true spirit of Christmas, too. Picking up where you left off, revisiting another time of your life, remembering the years gone by. Maybe this is what those "Christmas Blues" are all about. And despite being a lot of work and very time-consuming, it'd be hard for me to give up!!

Now what WOULDN'T be hard is all this blasted cleaning!!! Yeah, my windows sparkle, but if someone could now please tell me how to easily clean about 1,000,000 board feet of freakin' woodwork.....