Friday, April 08, 2011

what i do instead

There are a million things to do. And unfortunately, I have a problem staying focused. Instead of doing what I "should" be doing, I keep myself "busy" with lots and lots of Nothings. I check my gmail. I check my FIT email. I check the Angel network for messages and my online classes for new discussion postings. I go on Facebook (aka World's Most Successful Time-Suck). Lately, I even started playing Klondike solitaire again--a Nothing I hadn't indulged in for years, but which became frighteningly enmeshed with my hourly routine.

I found a wonderful blog on Psychology Today called "Don't Delay" by Timothy Pychyl, PhD. According to his bio, Dr. Pychyl's research is "focused on the breakdown in volitional action commonly known as procrastination and its relation to personal well being." Reading the blog I discovered that, like creativity, procrastination is a sub-field of study in psychology research. Fascinating.

Of course, reading the blog posts gives me another thing to do--not quite a Nothing, and it really gives me some food for thought. Mostly, it helps me feel less, um, pathological--I am certainly not alone in my Nothing-ness.

I've also read that checking email or texts obsessively--or even compulsive Googling--is connected with the surge of dopamine you get from receiving messages and retrieving information instantly. The last thing I need right now is to get locked into a dopamine-feedback-loop. I'll never get free!

I have decided that, today, I will only check gmail once an hour (if that sounds like a lot, believe me, it's a huge reduction). I will only go on Facebook at lunchtime and the end of the day. And I will not play Pretty Good Klondike at GoodSol Online at all.

Instead I will write. I will get my tax information to my accountant (a BIG source of entrenched procrastinating energy). I will make headway on grading. I will chip away at the dozens of things I need to do for the family--paperwork for Stella, child care arrangements, spring break travel plans.

One thing I am proud of is my commitment to exercise. This week, I have gone for a run/walk every day except Tuesday. And last night I finally did a yoga class at my gym for the first time in a few weeks.

Having done at least that, no matter how much of a blob I've been in other ways, shows me that, in at least one area, I can make the choice to do the right thing, the smart thing, the thing that is good for me. I know that this good energy can carry over into the other parts of my life.

Wish me luck! I'll keep you posted....

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