Posted by: Michelle UluOla | December 5, 2010

*Memo About Lists From the Procrastinators’ Club President

“I’ll do it as soon as I get a Round Tuit”

Lack-of-elves-inspiration for organizing craft supplies reads, 'How many times have you said: “I’ll do it as soon as I get a Round Tuit”? Now’s your chance, now you can do it, now, at last, you’ve got A Round Tuit'

One of my dubious, honorary titles is that of life-long president of my local chapter of the Wisconsin State Procrastinators’ Club. We don’t have a secretary or treasurer, because we’ve never gotten around to holding meetings, having a membership drive, electing officers or collecting dues. It’s just as well, as I’d probably never make a meeting. If we had a club motto, it would be: “Procrastination is the greatest labor-saving device ever invented!” Or: “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.” Holding office as long as I have, I’ve learned there’s the secret of creative procrastination, finding that sometimes, if I wait long enough, it turns out that “it” didn’t need doing after all. I’ve heard from other people who feel eligible to join the club…as long as they don’t have to do anything as a member. Everyone has mentioned the need for some sort of support. So, as president, I’ve tried to develop a few tools over the years to help deal with our condition.

Everyone I know has To Do Lists—if not on paper, computer, or PDA, at least haunting the back recesses of their brains next those universal admonishments by mothers to make their beds and hang up their clothes. Some people, perhaps those with S-Claus genes, claim they get great fulfillment out of checking things off their lists. While I’ve experienced that at times, my To Do List morphed long ago into a Scroll, which as it unrolls, snakes itself from room-to-room, out the front door, circling around the yard and back inside again. Staring at it is akin to a bite that causes immobility, ending in little to-do about anything. Or, there’s the other problem: I have so many projects that by the time I’ve finished writing the scroll, there’s no time or energy left to do them. That brings to mind the comment by Bill Watterson, author of Calvin and Hobbs: “God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind that I will never die.” Perish that thought!

I recall reading an article a while back suggesting that I only put two things on my daily To Do List, because that’s so manageable and will feel really good once I’ve checked both of them off. If I only finish one thing, at least half my list is completed. Or, if I get both done early, I can always make a new list. I tried that for a few days, but it felt silly.

Do you remember those tongue-in-cheek Round Tuits that started popping up back in the 1970’s? All manner of wood, plastic, cloth, paper and computer-generated circles have been produced with the saying, “I’ll do it when I get a round to it.” I have an entire collection gathering dust, though I do manage to brush one off every once in a while. Actually, the Round Tuit hot pad in the photo above usually hangs ceremoniously in my kitchen. I must say that it has helped me keep that clean and neat. Occasionally, I move that Tuit to another room where a task awaits my attention. Sometimes, I leave it there overnight in hopes it shares the power of the shoemaker’s elves, and I’ll awaken to a magically completed project. So far, that hasn’t happened, but I can dream, can’t I? I suppose this would be the wrong month to try that again, given this is their busy season, followed by their much-needed vacation come December 26. Hmmm…time to come up with a more workable idea.

If you’re like me, you get an intuitive nudge to clean up loose ends and re-organize as the year winds down, with a view to starting the new one with a clean slate. Of course, the holidays often have a way of sabotaging the best of those intentions. I subscribe to the excellent monthly forecasts written by Lena Stevens at the School of Shamanism and actually try to use her practical advice for daily living. I found her December 2010 offering one of the best yet. Her theme for this month is “Maintenance: Fix, Eliminate, Upgrade, Clean,” and she gives wise, holistic suggestions on how to work our way through the month on all levels: physically, emotionally and spiritually. As she and many others point out, “Things in your life that do not function are an energy leak.” Since everything, including us, is energy, those leaks sap our well-being and can be found lurking in our bodies, homes, stuff, jobs and relationships—literally, in our whole kit-and-caboodle.

As I read through Lena’s proposals, I came up with a plan for actually accomplishing the goals she set forth. She suggested making an inventory of everything that needs maintenance—not ordinary daily chores, but all the extras. (If you feel a compulsion to put walk the dog or do the dishes on a list, you may want to consider therapy, rather than self-help advice.) But, I know from past personal experience that my writing out a to do list/scroll is a recipe for inertia. While I have one that’s always bouncing around inside my brain, I don’t really require it written in order to figure out what begs doing. There’s something that needs my attention anywhere I look.

So, I decided to try another approach: simply glance around each day and do at least one thing that qualifies under this month’s theme, no matter how big or small. And, make a “Done List” on the theory that seeing those successes will foster more. I opened a composition screen on my computer, labeled it December Done List and started with the first of the month. I chose a fairly easy job to get into the swing of it: I mended the two kangaroo pockets on my outdoor sweat jacket where the threads were unraveling, causing the pockets to flop out and eject my gloves. That was the perfect start, as it felt great to have it done, especially just in time for our first snowfall. I was also surprised and pleased to find myself looking forward to adding to my list. So on the second day, I dealt with and cleared off the heap of snail mail cluttering the top of my desk and did the same with all the old e-mails in one of my several in-boxes. On the third, I had a meaningful conversation with my cable provider, pointing out the special discount offers I’ve received from their competitors. I negotiated an $18.00 per month reduction in my bill! More entries were added on the fourth.

So far, so good. I’m enjoying watching my Done List growing with each passing day. The more I add to it, the more satisfying it is, and the more I’m getting done. As Mr. Watterson also observed, “It’s surprising how hard we’ll work when the work is done just for ourselves.” I have several large projects that I hope will make the list before the month is over, but I’m not obsessing about them.

Yes, this method is like so many others, merely a way to trick myself into overcoming procrastination. Will I have to give up my title as president? Who knows or would notice, given the lack of meetings? However, using a Done List falls under the same Universal Principle I quoted in my last blog: “Effectiveness is the measure of truth,” and its corollary, “There’s always another way to do anything.” Since To Do Lists don’t work particularly well for me, maybe the Done List will work better. Maybe by the end of December, I’ll have formed a new habit. One thing is for sure: I’ve already accomplished more than I might have, and I’m on target to create a fresh start for the new year. And just maybe, by New Year’s Eve, my Done List will have turned itself into a Scroll. Now that would be something to celebrate!

May all your lists be Done ones, too!

*Please note: Memos issued by the president of the Procrastinators’ Club are as rare as a Monarch butterfly landing atop a Wisconsin Snowman!

******©UluOla 2010******

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Responses

  1. Love this! Wish I could post it! Just Delicious….

    Like

    • Thanks, Susan. You can post it by just copying the URL and pasting it into your post. 😉

      Like

  2. M

    Your December Done list sounds brilliant – sort of like a Simple Abundance list of chores LOL, Yes, I agree – there is something about the end of the year that almost compels one to tidy up before the new one starts – especially after the year that has just been!

    May your December Done list be a Scroll Of Note on completion.

    I feel re-energized just thinking about your plan. Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

    Dani

    Like

    • Thanks for your kind words and support, Dani! I’m glad I could pass along some inspiration. It’s hard to believe we’re whirling toward a new year already! May it be a more gentle one for all of us! M

      Like

  3. Wow, I totally hear you!!

    I never thought of the energy drain idea, that’s good. I like the idea of the ‘done list’…makes a lot of sense. I took the whole day yesterday to ‘clean’ off my dining room table (due to procrastination, this was a monumental task!). But, dealing with all of the little pieces of paper is my worst thing..and now I am done!! Clean slate for today!!

    Like

    • Congratulations Sally on finishing that whopper! Yes, every thing we own holds a piece of our energy, and when those things are no longer of use, they weigh us down. Bet you felt a light sense of well-being afterward. ATTAWOMAN!

      Like


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