Sunday, July 29, 2012

Putting Things Off

I'm not usually a procrastinator. My to-do list keeps me on task most days, and I can't think of anything that needs to be done that's clearly important.

Then there are the other things. They are important, but not in the short term. So it's easy for me to put them off.

For example, I want to get our book into the independent bookstores for the weeks preceding Veterans Day in November. That means I need to develop a media sheet and a 30-second pitch, then go around to the bookstores (four, so far, in the Seattle area) and talk to the managers. I have been thinking about these activities for over a month, but just yesterday finally put together the first draft of the media sheet. It took me a couple of hours. I know my book, and I'm pretty sure I know my audience, but I'm not a marketer. When I think about this phase of publishing, I want to curl up in the fetal position. That's why I've put it off for so long.

Here's another one. I'm reading a book called Master Class. The author interviewed older people who are leading vital, active lives - his group consisted of people who have participated in Road Scholar travel and learning activities - and "reverse engineered" what they told him, to develop a strategy for the rest of us. How do we stay active, enthusiastic and fulfilled in our retirement years? He came up with a combination of four factors: socialization, moving, creating, and thinking. There's a grid in the book where you can list the things you do, assign them values for each of the four factors, assess where you're not involved, and find ways to become more active in those areas.

For me, surprisingly, my lowest score comes in "movement". Now, I do participate in exercise classes every weekday morning. At least that's what my calendar tells me. But I actually only went to the class three days last week. I was out of town on Monday and Tuesday and I was mediating on Thursday. I know I need to make up for those days - either in the afternoon, if I'm home, or on the weekend. That's when I procrastinate. I've only made up one of those days. And I absolutely know that exercise is vital for my continued health. It's almost like scheduling the exercise makes it so. Not!

My second lowest score is in creativity, which is no surprise at all. Other than writing, I do nothing in that area. I used to sing in choral groups, play handbells, and crochet. That was years ago, though. I gave them all up in the 80s when I divorced, became a single mom and moved to a new city. I tell myself I can get back to them all, but I don't. And I absolutely know, again, that creativity is important. When I think about taking up something new - watercolors or sketching or flower arranging or quilting, for example, come to mind - I either roll my eyes in boredom or prepare to take the fetal position.

The socializing and thinking are fine on my grid. Socializing usually comes along as it needs to, and thinking is my retreat.

So what is this procrastination thing? I've been very active and involved for the last two years. Is it because I've done the easy stuff already?

Today I'd really like to lie on the couch and read magazines - I have about 30 in the basket. But I'm going to walk a couple of miles in the sunshine instead. And develop the design for the book's business cards and bookmarks.

The fetal position looks awfully good, though.







19 comments:

DJan said...

You are a very involved person, Linda, and there are only just a few hours every day when one chooses to do something different than what we normally do in our routine. I am really impressed with all that you have accomplished in your "retirement" so far. If I were you, I'd languish around for a bit. In my book, you deserve it! :-)

Suzanne and Malcolm said...

I think that going to an exercise class three days a week qualifies as "movement." And as far as the creativity thing goes - that can be accomplished by arranging a few cut flowers in a vase.

The so called "experts" don't hold the keys to our kingdom. You seem to be a happy, well adjusted person. Maybe I'm missing something??

Olga said...

Good grief. I simply cannot imagine you lag in any area. I think your whole life is creative and I am betting you move a whole lot more than you realize. It's not all about what happens in an exercise class.

Perpetua said...

I'm with Suzanne and Malcolm, Linda. Books can be very helpful, and indeed life-changing (as a former librarian, you'd expect me to say that, wouldn't you?) but your own self-knowledge and common-sense are probably even more important for your well-being. You're doing very well as far as I can see. :-)

Ms Sparrow said...

I really think you are too hard on yourself! I don't know what your exercise program entails but making yourself workout every day is pushing it too hard. Creativity certainly doesn't mean that you must be creative in ALL areas. Cut yourself some slack, gal!

Judy and Emma said...

One of the reasons I do volunteering is to remain socially active and involved. With recent hip issues, my moving around (by foot) has taken a nose dive. As far as being creative is concerned, isn't doing a blog creative? Just getting through life takes a lot of thinking. I 'think' you're ahead of the game. :)

Bonnie said...

Rather than look for something new creatively, you could always delve deeper into something, like writing. Take a class, or challenge yourself to get published somewhere new, just an idea.

rosaria williams said...

Yes, we know what we need to do, and yet...
Sometimes, I spend way too much time watching television without really watching; reading without really reading.

You gave me something to think about.

Linda Reeder said...

Maybe the creativity is in allowing yourself some down time. I did that today, and now I'm ready to get busy again tomorrow.

#1Nana said...

I'm always amazed at all that you do. I, on the other hand, have become a recluse in retirement. Does the Internet count as social interaction?

Arkansas Patti said...

You always make me feel like a professional slacker. Your creativity is in the written word. You like it and are good at it. That should do you for that department. Just enjoy and let the few down times roll.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I do not think we have to do every good thing every day. When I get into a creative zone, for example, I might focus on that and put off the social or the practical for a while. Movement is maybe the one thing we should do regularly or the body will have something to say about it. But classes 3-4 days a week seems like plenty, maybe with a little stretching or yoga on the off days. As others have said, you are a whirlwind. Be kind to yourself!

Out on the prairie said...

I have to get out and do something, I have been too restless to read and set down a number of periodicals I read for years.

Retired English Teacher said...

Thanks for the recommendation on the book. Maybe you didn't intend to make this a recommendation, but now that you've made me aware of the book, I intend to get it.

You, are not a slacker in my book. I think we all need some down time. You have been through a very stressful summer. What you may need now is time in the fetal position while you evaluate those areas that you wish to work on in the future. I see my life like that at times. I know I need more balance on a consistent basis, but getting there takes some time. Baby steps work at times.

I have plans for all of those areas. I will continue to work more on doing them in balance on a more consistent basis.

You are about as busy and balanced and creative as anyone I know. Pat yourself on the back. Call the fetal position the child's pose and count it as exercise.

Nancy said...

I think I could have written this about me. You and I have much in common.

Deb Shucka said...

It's really all about balance, isn't it? So I hope that after you had a wonderful walk in our incredible Northwest summer air, you gave yourself some time to read magazines from a fetal position.

I love that you're constantly reflective, always looking for ways to be more of yourself, to be more fully alive. That in itself will keep you as young as possible, even if it doesn't change your character (like wiping out procrastination). :-)

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

I'm so in touch with that. Pretty much posted something similar as related to editing my 2nd MS right now. Curl up or push on? I have no clue what to do (which usually leans toward the curling in my case).

Marketing gets a bit easier as you do it more often but yeah I agree, not the most enjoyable part of the process. Good luck getting everything done but I'm sure you're going to do great!

Cheryl Kohan said...

You are such an active person it's hard to relate this to you but I know just what you mean! Especially about the creativity. If you come up with a solution, please share!!

Rian said...

From what I've read from your blog, you DO seem awfully active. And I do think this is important in retirement. I love to read so I may check out "Master Class"... but its possible that each of us puts more into one area... say socializing or creativity than another? My lowest score would be movement also. I need to work on that.