Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Procrastination or ‘Why It’s Easier to Deep-Clean My Coffeemaker When I Should Be Doing Laundry

 

I have four days off in a row. This is almost unheard of on my particular nursing unit. It just so happened that I was scheduled this way and it benefited me. I didn’t do it on purpose, it just worked out that way.

The house is a mess. My folks moved and, in that move, decided to give me back everything I’ve ever owned and stored in their massive garage. It’s fine, I tell myself, it’s my stuff after all. Yes, it’s keepsakes from my childhood and books, but it’s also old clothes left behind when I moved two years ago. It’s fine. It’s fine.

I know it needs to be done. The kitchen is also a mess. The floors need to be mopped and I’ve been having some plumbing issues.

Monday: I tidied a little, had a doctor’s appointment. Took care of ailing bird.

Tuesday: I attempted to be useful but my shoulder was hurting and I had physical therapy. In general, I’m also getting depressed from being home so much and dealing with my child’s own school issues. I wrote the day off. Leftovers for dinner. Whatever.

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It’s now Wednesday. I’m awake before noon. (Go team!) The house is a mess, boxes are all over for things that need to be put away or sent to Goodwill. The kitchen is gawd awful. I need to do laundry before I go to work on Friday so my scrubs can get appropriately cleaned. I need to clean the new towels so that I can actually use them. The bird has left seed everywhere, so that needs to be tidied up. I need to shred documents so that when I go back to work, my bag will be lighter.

Thursday is a very, very full day. Doctors appointments for everyone tomorrow, so I need to prepare what I’m going to feed everyone for dinner ahead of time.

Friday I go back to work.

So what am I doing?

I’m deep cleaning my coffeemaker. It’s been bothering me for ages, so I got the CLR and I’m cleaning the thing like a madwoman. I’ve scrubbed it, I’ve hand-washed the internal reservoir that managed to get coffee grounds in it, I’m deep cleaning the carafe. In the meantime, the rest of the house looks … exactly the same.

Why is it easier to fixate on small things rather than the big things that really need to be done? Why is it so much easier?

It could be said that it is because these small things are successes. These small things are known projects that can be completed with minimal energy loss and relatively easily. These are things that I need in my life. But they don’t help me with the larger projects that are required just to live a sane life.

I am clearly not sane.

So what is it then when we have things to do but then choose to do something else? Surely it has a name? Not just procrastination. I’m doing something useful, I swear, so it can’t be procrastination.

So what is it, then?

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  1. JennaStocker Member

    It sounds like you have a very full plate. Give yourself a little grace and count cleaning the coffee maker as a tally in the ‘W’ column. I’ve heard it explained that paying off the smallest debts is the best way to get back in the Black. Think of accomplishing the little tasks as a step toward clearing the big list running in your mind. It frees up brain space to work on the big stuff. Keep going, you’ll get there. Btw my folks did the same to me. I’d just cleaned a spare room and the next day it was full of my old junk. The circle of life!

    • #1
    • September 23, 2020, at 12:37 PM PDT
    • 16 likes
  2. Ekosj Member

    Some times the big issues are just overwhelming. It’s more manageable to start at the bottom of the To-do list. It all has to get done sooner or later, it’s just a matter of in what order.

    To loop back to yesterday’s fascinating train post…
    “For example, for long trains, you have to put it in reverse for a bit before going forward. That way, you compress all of the couplers, so when you start out, you have a little bit of slack to let the engine get some inertia going. That adds mass a little at a time until the slack comes out of all of the couplers, instead of trying to make the whole train start at the same time.”

    See…sometimes you just can’t move the whole long train at the same time. Gots’ta start with one car and build up some momentum.

    • #2
    • September 23, 2020, at 12:46 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  3. TheRightNurse Member
    TheRightNurse

    …Aaaaand now the water’s been turned off at the complex. Apparently there was a pipe burst on the other side of the complex. This figures. It’s 50 years old and the HOA has not replaced the pipes.

    No laundry or cleaning today!

    • #3
    • September 23, 2020, at 1:03 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  4. MarciN Member

    I have do-or-do-not-go-to-sleep list I have to accomplish every day. No one sees it but me. So I cheat. At the end of the day, I erase the things I didn’t get done and write them over again on the next day’s page. And then I write on today’s list the things I did do and check them off. :-)

    There is a fine art to procrastinating. :-)

    • #4
    • September 23, 2020, at 1:12 PM PDT
    • 18 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  5. JennaStocker Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I have do-or-do-not-go-to-sleep list I have to accomplish every day. No one sees it but me. So I cheat. At the end of the day, I erase the things I didn’t get done and write them over again on the next day’s page. And then I write on today’s list the things I did do and check them off. :-)

    There is a real art to procrastinating. :-)

     

    Genius!

    • #5
    • September 23, 2020, at 1:15 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Full Size Tabby Member

    Sounds pretty normal to me – perhaps because I could see myself doing the same thing.

    Cleaning the coffeemaker is a clearly finite project that has a defined end point that is achievable in a reasonable amount of time that will produce a feeling of completion and thus satisfaction. Organizing an entire house full of stuff is an amorphous project that has an indefinite end point that is probably far into the future and thus unlikely to produce in the foreseeable future a feeling of completion and thus satisfaction.

    Two years ago when we moved from a large house to a much smaller house my wife spent a lot of effort trying to get me to go through stuff and sort among move / sell / donate (and to whom) / trash options. That was too daunting a project. I’d much rather wash the cars (in a couple of hours have shiny clean cars) or mow the law (one hour to neat grass). Finally she got me to see the stuff sorting not as one big project, but broke it down for me into smaller sub-projects, each of which could then be seen to have a completion. Instead of all the garage, she had me identify a small section of the garage. When I had gone through that section, everything in that section that was not to be moved with us was sent off in its category (sold / donated / trashed) so that the section of the garage could then be marked as “completed” and I could feel the satisfaction of completion. For weeks it seemed like every trip out of the house involved stopping at the Goodwill store to drop off the donations gleaned from the previous day’s sorting. 

    • #6
    • September 23, 2020, at 1:20 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  7. Stina Member

    TheRightNurse: Why is it easier to fixate on small things rather than the big things that really need to be done? Why is it so much easier?

    You are perfectly sane.

    And overwhelmed.

    Sometimes, focusing on that one small spot is just something to anchor it on. I did this today and it made a difference and I don’t have to do it again for 6 months (a year?).

    It will bolster you to start on something bigger that doesn’t look like you’ve done anything after several hours of work. But that coffee maker! And the coffee tastes better!

    And eventually, it’ll motivate you to do all the laundry in one day and THAT will really make you proud.

    But for now, let that coffee pot be what it is. A clean and spotless spot, an accomplishment.

    I’ve had days, weeks, and months like this. Our garbage disposal broke and I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything.

    And then one day, I just decided I was going to fix the garbage disposal. No one had clean underwear, but I fixed that garbage disposal by myself. It was a good day. Everyone was mad at me. I didn’t care. I did all the laundry in 2 days after that. I just needed that one thing.

    • #7
    • September 23, 2020, at 1:23 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  8. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    I heard a stand-up comic do a bit: “Coming to soon to a theater near you: The Procrastinator….He’s going to kill you….When he gets around to it!”

     

    • #8
    • September 23, 2020, at 1:57 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  9. Stina Member

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    I heard a stand-up comic do a bit: “Coming to soon to a theater near you: The Procrastinator….He’s going to kill you….When he gets around to it!”

     

    Anticipation is everything.

    • #9
    • September 23, 2020, at 2:02 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  10. Juliana Member

    TheRightNurse (View Comment):

    …Aaaaand now the water’s been turned off at the complex. Apparently there was a pipe burst on the other side of the complex. This figures. It’s 50 years old and the HOA has not replaced the pipes.

    No laundry or cleaning today!

    Woo-hoo!

    • #10
    • September 23, 2020, at 2:33 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Barry Jones Thatcher

    It is nice to know I am not alone in my behavior… :)

    • #11
    • September 23, 2020, at 2:49 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  12. TheRightNurse Member
    TheRightNurse

    Barry Jones (View Comment):

    It is nice to know I am not alone in my behavior… :)

    Definitely not. I need to go through boxes…but wait! The hood over my cooktop is filthy! Surely I should clean that first!

    • #12
    • September 23, 2020, at 3:31 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  13. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    When I retired last month after 12 years on my job I had to bring home all my personal stuff. Do you know how much stuff you can accumulate in 12 years?! Mountains! Especially pens and markers. I will never lack for pens and highlighters. Now, to find someplace to put them all!

    • #13
    • September 23, 2020, at 3:56 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  14. Acook Member

    Today my husband told me that an …. old….friend who is 85 said that he and his wife are moving to assisted living…in 3 years, and they are starting to clean out the house. My husband asked me what kind of people start cleaning out the house three years ahead of a move. My reply: Smart people. Honestly, I look around and think that if we drop dead and our daughter has to clean this place out in its current condition, she’ll kill us. 

    • #14
    • September 23, 2020, at 4:03 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  15. Randy Webster Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    When I retired last month after 12 years on my job I had to bring home all my personal stuff. Do you know how much stuff you can accumulate in 12 years?! Mountains! Especially pens and markers. I will never lack for pens and highlighters. Now, to find someplace to put them all!

    Estimators never have enough different colors, so we’re always buying new pen sets hoping.

    • #15
    • September 23, 2020, at 4:08 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. danys Thatcher
    danysJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I feel for you.

    We’re doing repairs to our house, including a repipe and rebuilding an old deck. We had hours without water, a day where the only functioning toilet & sink were in the garage. We’re now painting the interior. The master bathroom has holes in the walls. Tomorrow I shop for tile.

    Our daughter attends school via Zoom. I teach part time via Zoom. Power tools accompany our work. My office was ground zero for the repipe. I’ve been teaching in our living room for 4 weeks. It’s now filled w/ stuff moved out of the rooms that are being painted. Only the sink & toilet work in my bathroom. The downstairs bathroom is being painted so no showers for mr danys & me. G00d thing we work from home!

    Today I taught my classes, assigned independent classwork & corrected papers.

    And I ran the dishwasher. 

    Now I’m on Ricochet instead of lesson planning, packing up my bedroom or kitchen whichever is next on the painting list, looking at more tile samples online…

    Did I mention I ran the dishwasher? I like sparkly glassware.

    • #16
    • September 23, 2020, at 4:38 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  17. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    Hey at least you didnt forget to send your co host the zoom link and now have to reschedule your show for tomorrow.

     

    • #17
    • September 23, 2020, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  18. Headedwest Coolidge

    For decades I taught what was first called Operations Management and then got renamed to Supply Chain Management. Much of it is concerned with what to do now or in what order to do things. One of the standard rules for getting stuff done is called SPT (shortest processing time). 

    That means you do the fastest job first, and then process the rest of the jobs by how long they take, shortest first. 

    This is helpful because at any point in time you have completed the most tasks you can finish. Now, in OM or SCM this relates to income as you finish and can bill jobs, but I have found that when I have a mountain of stuff to do, the SPT rule helps because every day you have completed the most tasks you can finish. And that is satisfying even when it has nothing to do with income.

    And you never know; by the time you get to the longest tasks you might see them differently and be able to shrink them.

    • #18
    • September 23, 2020, at 5:36 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  19. danys Thatcher
    danysJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    Hey at least you didnt forget to send your co host the zoom link and now have to reschedule your show for tomorrow.

     

    Oh, no! Who did that?

    During a particularly chaotic day last week, Zoom wouldn’t let me start my class meeting. Students were knocking on the virtual door waiting to be let in. Meet & Canvas to the rescue. Post a Meet link in a Canvas announcement & my students came right to class. Easiest room change I’ve ever had. Of course I was discombobulated. 

    • #19
    • September 23, 2020, at 5:38 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  20. JustmeinAZ Member

    Acook (View Comment):
    Honestly, I look around and think that if we drop dead and our daughter has to clean this place out in its current condition, she’ll kill us. 

    Us too. We say that if we die before getting rid of 95% of our stuff our kids are going to say “What were they thinking?!” 

    • #20
    • September 23, 2020, at 5:42 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  21. Maguffin Member

    With that kind of schedule, you are going to need the best cup of joe to keep going, so it made perfect sense to me.

    • #21
    • September 23, 2020, at 5:44 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  22. Ansonia Member
    AnsoniaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    So what is it when we have things to do but choose to do something else ?

    (1) Sometimes it’s choosing to do the thing that requires less thought, less mental energy, the job that enables you to think about something else that you want to think about while you do it.

    (2) Sometimes it’s choosing to do the job that requires less physical energy.

    (3) Sometimes it’s choosing to do the thing that’s more interesting to do.

    (4) Sometimes it’s choosing to do the thing that will show the result of being done sooner, and/or the job you’re less likely to screw up.

    • #22
    • September 23, 2020, at 5:53 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  23. JoelB Member

    I have a basement full of dusty musty junk and good, but disorganized tools. I am putting in shop lights so I can see and I don’t feel like I am in a dungeon. Today was too beautiful to work inside so I started preparing the garden for autumn flowers and spring bulbs. Half the lights are up.

    • #23
    • September 23, 2020, at 6:26 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  24. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Reagan
    GLDIII Temporarily EssentialJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    It sounds like you have a very full plate. Give yourself a little grace and count cleaning the coffee maker as a tally in the ‘W’ column. I’ve heard it explained that paying off the smallest debts is the best way to get back in the Black. Think of accomplishing the little tasks as a step toward clearing the big list running in your mind. It frees up brain space to work on the big stuff. Keep going, you’ll get there. Btw my folks did the same to me. I’d just cleaned a spare room and the next day it was full of my old junk. The circle of life!

    Just wait until they pass on and you have to do the heart and gut wrenching task of going thru their stuff to decide what is memorable, valuable, yard salable, donate-able, or toss-able. My folks (really my dad) had stuff going back to the 70’s (electronics, car parts, reel to reel recorder and tapes, and two generations of 8mm film). He was pre classified hoarder. After several yard sales, four pickup load to Goodwill and two half height roll on dumpsters to empty to place. Going thru 50 years of our joint memories drained me more than I could admit at the time.

    In the end I could not part with the 8mm films and I shared else on Ricochet how I could not part with his 1934 Baby Grand piano. Only my little sister plays, but her tiny home could not accommodate. It cost me a the price of a used car, but I had it restored, much to the delight of my two recently acquired daughters in-law (currently residing with us). I discovered both of whom have a basic talent to play. I have been trying to self teach myself after 45 years from my last failed attempt to learn, and surprisingly there seem to be some brain synapses that have room for new tricks. I have managed to plink out several of the girl’s basic learner books, much farther than I was capable of doing in my middle teens.

    At least when I pass on I know those two and my future grandchildren might find delight in a well crafted piano.

    • #24
    • September 23, 2020, at 7:15 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  25. MarciN Member

    GLDIII Temporarily Essential (View Comment):
    At least when I pass on I know those two and my future grandchildren might find delight in a well crafted piano.

    Yes, they will. 

    That is a magnificent thing you have done. :-) 

    • #25
    • September 23, 2020, at 7:20 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Ansonia Member
    AnsoniaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Barry Jones (View Comment):

    It is nice to know I am not alone in my behavior… :)

    I just feel so much less weird after I read a post like this.

    Excellent post, TheRightNurse.

    • #26
    • September 23, 2020, at 7:29 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  27. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeekaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    With unexciting work and house tasks for which I want to artificially create that sense urgency, which is one of the few things that gets me going, I have been adapting the Pomodoro method. In this method, one chooses tasks, then sets a timer for twenty-five minutes and then works without distraction on one of the tasks. After a five-minute break, you start the next task, and so on. After four “Pomodoros” you take a half hour off. If I really stuck to that, I would get a lot done over a week. In the way I’ve been able to use it, it does help to at least get me going and somewhat keep me on track.

    • #27
    • September 23, 2020, at 8:10 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  28. Clavius Thatcher

    GLDIII Temporarily Essential (View Comment):

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    It sounds like you have a very full plate. Give yourself a little grace and count cleaning the coffee maker as a tally in the ‘W’ column. I’ve heard it explained that paying off the smallest debts is the best way to get back in the Black. Think of accomplishing the little tasks as a step toward clearing the big list running in your mind. It frees up brain space to work on the big stuff. Keep going, you’ll get there. Btw my folks did the same to me. I’d just cleaned a spare room and the next day it was full of my old junk. The circle of life!

    Just wait until they pass on and you have to do the heart and gut wrenching task of going thru their stuff to decide what is memorable, valuable, yard salable, donate-able, or toss-able. My folks (really my dad) had stuff going back to the 70’s (electronics, car parts, reel to reel recorder and tapes, and two generations of 8mm film). He was pre classified hoarder. After several yard sales, four pickup load to Goodwill and two half height roll on dumpsters to empty to place. Going thru 50 years of our joint memories drained me more than I could admit at the time.

    In the end I could not part with the 8mm films and I shared else on Ricochet how I could not part with his 1934 Baby Grand piano. Only my little sister plays, but her tiny home could not accommodate. It cost me a the price of a used car, but I had it restored, much to the delight of my two recently acquired daughters in-law (currently residing with us). I discovered both of whom have a basic talent to play. I have been trying to self teach myself after 45 years from my last failed attempt to learn, and surprisingly there seem to be some brain synapses that have room for new tricks. I have managed to plink out several of the girl’s basic learner books, much farther than I was capable of doing in my middle teens.

    At least when I pass on I know those two and my future grandchildren might find delight in a well crafted piano.

    I’m having 40s, 50s, and 60s 8mm film converted to digital. The first Super-8 was done really well. I’m looking forward, but cautiously, for the results on the older film.

    • #28
    • September 23, 2020, at 9:03 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  29. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    GLDIII Temporarily Essential (View Comment):
    I have been trying to self teach myself after 45 years from my last failed attempt to learn, and surprisingly there seem to be some brain synapses that have room for new tricks.

    Playing piano is one of my lockdown therapies. It’s fantastic for the brain and just a joy to create something, however ephemeral. I even started taking lessons again from Little Miss Anthrope’s piano teacher! I know how to play, but Miss Arleen and I just have a blast together and goof off for half an hour a week. I don’t have to make myself practice — I play for the joy of it. 

    Good for you, G! I recommend finding pieces you like and want to learn. I have old Reader’s Digest song books including songs from WWI going into the 70’s. I serenade Mr. C with them on occasion. The best way to learn is to play music you enjoy.

    • #29
    • September 24, 2020, at 7:34 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If you haven’t seen this TedTalk on procrastination, you should. It’s hilarious because it’s true!

    • #30
    • September 24, 2020, at 7:35 AM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.