I was about to write a post about the magic of Friday evenings. I am very fond of them and I just figured it’s time for a chilled, warm feeling post. Somehow, I managed to get to my tips to combat procrastination. I could revise the post and change it, but this is how my mind works. I got more philosophical by the end. Have a great week!!
Ever since high-school (or at least this much back I remember), I used to love Friday evenings. It was the beginning of the weekend, the best time to relax and actually enjoy it. The best time to watch a movie and to not feel guilty about it, the best time to get dressed and go out as the weekend is just starting. It was the time for absolute freedom.
With time, I kind of grew out of it as the planning of my days became my own responsibility. Sure, I had a schedule for study and work and meetings and deadlines, but at the end of the day, most of it was my choice. I decided that I wanted to do the work I was supposed to do and I was lucky enough to get to do it. That I didn’t always enjoy it, that I was sometimes tired, that I acted out, sure, it happened. But I figured out I had a say in it. I could work later, study later, do it later…and basically feel sorry for my future self.
A very important life lesson was for me to learn to help myself, to do the “hard” task first, to start with the difficult, the unpleasant, the stressful task first. I started to realised that the tasks on which I procrastinated were in one of the following categories:
- too much work and it felt overwhelming;
- unclear how to start or continue;
- I was way too focused on the outcome or about what other people will feel about it;
- it were tasks I dread because they were not difficult, but rather repetitive and took a long time and basically felt like I am wasting my time.
At times, it wasn’t just one, but many. Realising this helped me find solutions:
- too much work and it feel overwhelming? What’s one thing you can do today? the smallest thing you can think about. Do it and get it over with. The rest is to be done tomorrow [usually you start and little by little, when you do this every day, you’ll start feeling engaged with the task and will want to continue];
- unclear how to start or continue? call a colleague, tell her or him what’s on your mind and the next natural step will come to your mind while you talk. You don’t have someone to listen to you? Make a list or record yourself talking, just take it out of your mind…thing are much more clear when they become concrete;
- focused on results or on what others may think? Well, what will they think if you fail and don’t do it at all? Sure, there are things which need to be done to appeal to certain people, but in order for them to have an opinion, they need the object towards which they can actually form an opinion. Some will like it, some will love it. Some will think it’s great, some will harshly criticise you. This will happen regardless of what you do. It’s just how things are. Focus on your craft and put in the work. Your job is to do the work and not to worry about what you can’t control. People have minds of their own and they evaluate your work based on they values and principles and standards and experience. All you can do it your best. We have one life only so we better be wise about how we spend it;
- you dread the easy boring stuff? Just play some tunes. Music has the quality of making everything better. If the boring task is something you need to focus on, play classical music or jazz or something instrumental…no lyrics, no distraction. Just pure enjoyment.
In the last six weeks I’ve been doing so much work. I ended an old project, I started new projects [including a writing one], started doing interviews, started recording ExcelMas [videos for YouTube about Excel for my students], all this while preparing for classes and meeting my students online, taking long walks with my brother, hanging out with mom over coffee, read non-fiction or hanging out with my boyfriend online.
I do take time off, usually after working hard [though I do sometimes start with a break]. I manage to stay focused even if at times I get so sad that it physically hurts. I miss my dad so much. After my walk this Friday evening I’ve had a moment when it hit me [to my surprise, I’m telling you, I knew I couldn’t] that I can never go back to that time when I was sitting in the back of our family car, with dad behind the wheel, my mother on his right and my brother by my side, watching out the window and day dreaming about what I was dreaming about when I was eleven. It felt like I’d never grow up…
During my walk on Friday evening I kept thinking about the importance of the right now. I keep thinking how all we have is the present. The past is gone. It can’t be undone and it is what it was. Who really remembers how it actually was? The future is uncertain. It can be good, it can be bad, we don’t know. It will be what will be.
But this moment right here, this breath that we take while reading this word, the way our body feels right now being dressed in the clothes we decided to put on, this one moment, right here is all we have. It Is all we can accept, it is all we can change, it is all we can control. It is so powerful, so full of opportunity, so inspiring and yet so simple.
It can’t be Friday evening every day. It wouldn’t be special. It’s special every time it comes around and I am grateful I caught another one. Another evening wondering what I can buy or make to surprise my mom and my brother for Saint Nicholas, Another evening when I am grateful for my family, for the people in my life, for my work and for my books. For the times I am living in, for the country I am living in. I am sure it could have been better and that I can find reasons to be bitter. But I now know that it can be worse than it is, so right this moment I choose gratefulness. I hope you do too.
It will be better in the future depending on every choice we make moment by moment. It will be worse in the future because that’s just how life is, with its ups and downs. We have the present moment and I hope you take the time to pause, take a breath, let it flow in your body and make you happy. Because, really, it won’t get any simple than this.
Make today count!
p.s. If you live in Romania and have the right, got the time and it’s safe for you and your family, go vote this Sunday for the Parliamentary elections. Whatever you think it’s best after doing a little research on who’s running. Each vote matters.