With only 3 days until another year is done, I like to take time to reflect on how the year went overall, as well as things I want to include in the next 12 months.
One of the things I’d really like to include is to overcome my own struggle with procrastination.
Google’s Bard defines procrastination as, “the act of voluntarily delaying or postponing a task or set of tasks despite knowing that there will be negative consequences for doing so.”
Looking back now, I can see that my issues with it got worse after Mario passed away. Mario was an expert procrastinator. Of course alcoholism and unchecked depression were also at play in his case. However, if it was something he was really into, he could spend 50 hours straight on it. If it was something someone else asked him to do that didn’t exactly light him up, well, that was another story. As the years passed, work tasks started to fall into this category.
Mario was not only my partner in life, but also in business.
One of his early specialities was animation using Macromedia’s program called, Flash. Some of the projects he did with Flash were really fantastic. There a came a point though where the programming basically got phased out of our line of work. He took it personal and instead of committing to learning the latest technology, stewed about the fact that one of the main things he was very good at had become obsolete. He finally did latch on to something else, but what it was I couldn’t drum up a great deal of business for. Nevertheless, he was also a brilliant illustrator and would typically manage to knock out requests in that area.
I remember at one point, probably about 5 years before the end, he simply stopped doing pretty much any work that needed to be done. I even had clients of ours that we had worked with for years mention things along the lines of, “Mario never answers the phone anymore” or “I tried emailing Mario 2 weeks ago, but never heard back.” I knew he was hurting, but clearly trying to give him more things to do to drive home that he had skills and was needed, was not working.
Friends and family started asking me why I seemed to be, “working all the time”… and they weren’t wrong. I was basically put in a position where I had to compensate for work that wasn’t being done. It hurt me and it started affecting my own health.
Beyond work, Mario would procrastinate about all manner of things like paying bills (which is how I ended up taking over that task), housework, calling someone back, etc. I hated having to ask multiple times for something. He hated me asking him multiple times. It definitely led to arguments. Eventually, he’d cave and the vacuuming, or whatever else he was tasked with would get done but it was strictly on his own time table.
The first 8 months after Mario passed were rough on many fronts. Emotionally, I felt like a wrecked ship, hung up on a reef and getting knocked around from wave after wave. I’d just gone through the hardest thing I’d ever gone through. And yet, as a now single business owner, I couldn’t completely step away and take time to really grieve.
I remember 3 days after Mario died I had to do a call with a client. Things were not going smoothly with the project and the conversation took a negative turn. At that point, not a lot of people knew what had happened yet. Some knew Mario had been very ill, but not the full extent of it, and not that he was no longer with us. I broke down in tears on the phone… something I’d never done before… and then I told them what happened. They were apologetic, kind and understanding and of course a bit shocked. I ended up telling pretty much all of my clients and they gave me some much-needed time and space to attempt to recuperate. However, with no new work coming in, I knew that respite could not last. Other people were depending on me. Yet, in the back of my mind, I still kept going back to how, for so long, I pushed myself to do all the things that needed to be done whether I wanted to do them or not. That might have been my first inkling that my procrastination might have been a not-so-subtle defense mechanism of some sort.
At the time where I should have been able to really take time off to rest and properly grieve, I also had to face the mountain of things that need to be done when your spouse passes away. It really wore me down, so much so that at a certain point, the procrastination really got amplified. Things I wanted to do even became more of a struggle. I knew there would be negative consequences and yet, just like Mario languishing on the couch watching tv on a day where a work deadline had to be met, I seemed powerless to take action.
All of it was so weird for me because I always made sure things that needed to get done, got done without procrastinating. It really did take pretty much till the end of summer for me to sort of claw my way back and find inspiration to at least make sure critical things got done. But that period of about 8 months really did me no favors. The fall out was forming a bad habit of “waiting till the last minute” or delaying delegating a work task, or flat out forgetting to get something done.
I’m definitely at a point now, here at the end of 2023, where I want to form some new, healthier habits when it comes to managing my time. I’m currently not winning any awards on one of my on-going quests to get on a regular (and earlier) sleep schedule, considering I’m writing this at 2 a.m. (yes, I procrastinate about going to bed too … and writing, apparently). I’m done making excuses though. I’m over putting things off. I’m really over staying up to all hours of the night cramming to get something done that I couldn’t manage to get done earlier in the day when I was just stuck in the motivational mud. Onward and upward in 2024.