I don’t know about you, but I do a lot of my editorial planning on OneNote. And when I say “a lot”, I do mean most of it. There is a very particular format; I come up with a title that somewhat describes what I want to talk about, and then if I’m lucky, I’ll start actually writing about it. Or paste a picture. Or, you know, just the general gist. Sometimes I’ll write all of it at once, sometimes it just remains at an idea stage.
So, it wasn’t a surprise when today, after a really long break from writing, I come across this beauty:
Now, the premise seems promising. Building a wall; what are we talking about, Trump? Joe Beam? And then there’s the oh-so-helpful reference of “see cartoon”. My problem is… There is no cartoon. There is nothing added to this, no link, no picture, no further clarification. Just ‘see cartoon’. Seriously, past Susanna, do you really not know that there are absolute thousands of cartoons out there? That literally any of them could have been the inspiration to this amazingly titled draft?
I do have a point, and I am coming to it. Soon. Look at the picture; do you see when it was written? Mid-evening, on a Monday. Knowing my post-work routine, I would have been sitting on the sofa, doing nothing. I would’ve been browsing the internet, clicking on random funny links and clearly had inspiration strike me at this point in time. Looking back on it a year later, I am completely clueless as to what on Earth it could refer to.
I see myself as being a fairly organised procrastinator. As in, I have an organisational system that works for my procrastination. Things like the above; I’ll make a little note of “do later” and then put it off. I’m great at organising things for Future Susanna do, whilst Today Susanna sits on her butt, testing the limits of her chocolate-eating skills.
Future Susanna has a lot to do; all in all, she’s got 120 drafts in her OneNote, hundreds of photos to edit and thousands of stock photos to curate. She has dozens of books to read, two to write and three to internalise cover to cover. Future Susanna is going to be busy.
At Church last Sunday, one of our pastors gave a great sermon on apathy, and it really hit home for me. Not in the moment, but a little while after I’d got home. You can listen to the sermon here http://citychurchaberdeen.org/sermons/wheres-your-fight/ and if you’ve ever started something only to put it down and never take it up again, it’s a great listen even if you aren’t particularly religious. It’s okay, neither am I. But there’s something in her words that just carry over easily. The main sermon is about a chapter in Revelations on a church that “looks like it is alive but inside, they are dead”. Now, how does this relate to apathy? Well, often we walk through life, just going through the motions. We wake up, go to work, come home, do some housework and go to sleep. We get these ideas, start going through the motions, but without that drive alive inside us, we then put them down again. We passively observe the reality around us, without interacting with it. Rather than acting as an ‘actor’, we are the observer. We almost expect everything to fall into place without any input from ourselves, completely in the mercy of either someone else, or fate/Karma/whatever. But in reality, is this a good way to live? Are we really going to achieve anything without putting any effort in it whatsoever?
After the realisation hit me, I actually had a really restless nights’ sleep that night. I couldn’t get to sleep as quickly as I normally do, and even then I tossed and turned, waking up every now and then. At 4.30am, I was fully awake, staring at the unfinished work on my desk. There was so much I should have been doing, but had been putting it off for so long. And whereas I knew that making a start on it in the small hours in the morning wasn’t going to do any good, I made the firm decision of chipping away at all the unfinished tasks as of the next day.
So I began. On Monday night, I did my hour of studying and then finished off some freelance work and invoicing I had been putting off for EIGHT MONTHS! Four hours later, it was no longer haunting me. On Tuesday at work I picked up a pile of tasks that could have been done in December, but might as well start doing them now. I am now more than halfway through, and I feel productive. I feel accomplished.
This post in itself is a testament to my attempt of squaring away unfinished business; I’m currently three posts into completing my drafts.The key to this is keeping it up. It’s all new and exciting right now, but what about two weeks in when I’ve been putting in this effort all this time? What about two months in? Will I be able to keep this up? I know that there will be a lull in my excitement, and I know at that point it would be easy to just go back to the old ways. But I need to put in some safeguards for it. At those moments when I feel like procrastinating or pushing things off for later, I need to remember this feeling I have right now; that of accomplishment, of feeling like nothing is truly out of reach. Leaving things till ‘later’ will create nothing but unnecessary stress and pressure for Future Susanna. It might make Today Susanna have five more minutes watching trashy TV but she needs to remember that Today Susanna will become Future Susanna and it will be just that little bit harder then.
My advice to you is, pick one thing that you have been putting off and make a start on it today. What would it be?