I've always labelled myself a procrastinator, an under achiever, a bare minimum gal. Without any questions, it's just what came natural to me so I assumed it's in my DNA, it's who I am. I’ve been doing a lot of work around limiting beliefs lately, and decided that these were some that needed to be changed. In order to do that, I decided to try for one week to not give in to my procrastinating tendencies. To make todo lists and actually follow through, to not let clothes and dishes stock pile around the house, to be pro-active with seeking out new clients and building my business.
When I first thought of this idea I was pretty fired up about it, I know my brain well enough to know that it needs a swift kick of accountability to get anything done, and this experiment seemed like the perfect way to motivate myself to get into a more productive routine and reshape the way I spend my time. However by weeks end, I realized this experiment had a much different purpose. Here's how my week of no procrastinating went….
I teach at 6:30am on Monday, and I refuse to wake up any earlier than 5:30am so my morning routine starts when I get back from teaching. I mentioned this project to my students in the morning (adding another layer of accountability...), got through class and went home to get my morning started and get to work. I made my smoothie and did my morning reading, after that I sat down to start my to do list. This was a challenge for me, surprisingly. I've made todo lists before but they're usually big picture/wishful thinking type of lists that get lost in my notebook, unread for months until I accidentally flip to that page one day and get a nice reminder of how much I haven't accomplished. Creating a todo list that I planned on executing in one day felt like a good way to set myself up for success, or failure depending on how carefully I crafted it. After some brainstorming I decided to make one comprehensive todo list for the whole week, with some stretch goals built in, and from there I created my daily lists. I made sure to spread out the tasks that I didn't feel like doing so I didn't set myself up for one miserable day at the end of the week. From there I worked each item into my calendar, allocating the time I assumed each task would take.
My day was set and I was feeling good! I started cruising through my todo list, which included a number of tasks that I had been putting off for a LONG time. I was researching MD's and reaching out for referral partnerships, buying office supplies and getting myself organized to track clients and group cleanses, finalizing my cleanse manual and planning out marketing content. It felt like a lot of work, and I hated it. I wanted to get lost in a book or lay on the coach so bad. But I pushed through it and worked the entire day. I finished almost everything on my todo list with the exception of one or two items that I just couldn't squeeze in and I took a break at 5:00pm to do some yoga. At this point I'm feeling accomplished, but also pretty tired, I didn't rest at all and I was feeling it. After yoga, I showered, made dinner and left to teach my 7:30pm class. By the end of class I was completely exhausted, I drove home, wrote out my gratitude list and crashed.
I woke up before my alarm on Tuesday, and instead of rolling around in bed and falling back asleep for another hour or so, I summoned all of my strength to grab my book and start reading. I quickly realized that Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown is THE BEST way to start a day. I was feeling super charged up and inspired before my feet hit the ground. After around 45min of reading I hopped out of bed, got my gym clothes on and headed out the door to workout.
I crushed my workout and walked home ready to start the day. I made my smoothie, read a little bit more, prepped my food for the day and started checking a few items off the todo list. Afterwards I headed off to work (I work part time at a wellness clinic). My schedule was pretty light at work so I got all of the admin crap out of the way and prepped myself for my client sessions that day. After my first session is when I started to crash. Realizing at this point that I had been working my butt off without rest for almost 2 days, it felt like everything was catching up to me. I still had that voice in the back of my head motivating me to keep going and stay on track, but my pounding headache was much louder. I ended up scrolling on instagram and putzing around online for an hour or so in a failed attempt to give my brain a break but the headache and fatigue continued to worsen. By the time the day was over I wanted to rip my eyeballs out and stick my head in the freezer, I was beyond exhausted. This whole not procrastinating thing was beating me up. I forced out a few sentences of gratitude when I got home and passed out.
Another early morning Yoga class. I wasn't feeling totally rested when I woke up but was able to get through class without any issue. I came home, made my smoothie and read for awhile then headed out to teach my second class of the day. By the time I made it home from teaching my second class I was pooped. My brain wanted so badly to just relax. This is when I started to put the pieces together that I wasn't so much tired as I was drained. My brain is hardwired at this point to have breaks, rest and mindless activity from time to time and it hadn't had any over the last 2.5 days. My desire to sit on the couch and veg at this point was stronger than ever. It took all of my strength to pull out my laptop and start knocking off my to do list instead, I recommitted to being stronger than my mind and pushed past those intense urges.
Fast forward to 3pm later that afternoon, I was absolutely fried. I had a pounding headache, I couldn't think straight and I was starting to feel a little depressed. I knew at this point that I had taken this procrastination project a little too far. I took the dog for a walk to clear my head. When I got back I was still feeling exhausted but my mood had improved dramatically. I decided to support my system by taking a nap instead of "resting" in front of a screen. So I tucked myself into bed and set a timer for 60min. I passed out almost immediately and when I woke up I was a little groggy but feeling much better.
This was the point when I knew I needed to be a little more realistic about this project. Since my schedule is so spread out, I needed to accept the fact that my brain can't handle being turned on for 18 hours a day, and I'm actually doing myself a dis-justice by not incorporating time for rest into my schedule. My goal with this project was slowly shifting from getting out of my procrastination brain to learning how I can support myself to be the most productive with the time I have, and part of that productivity is highly dependent on taking care of myself.
Following the aftermath of my midweek melt down, I woke up on Thursday and decided to go with the flow. My schedule was pretty open, just a mid-day vet appointment for Pez and an evening class to teach. So I let myself wake up naturally, I made my matcha and I read for about an hour. I practiced some yoga at home and then took Pez to his appointment. After that I went for a long walk and went home to make lunch. After lunch I started drafting this blog post, researched a few new locations to start offering workshops and then took a shower and got ready to go teach. My day wasn't incredibly productive, BUT I felt good and I felt good about it.
Taught one more early morning class and then left for work at the clinic. I worked at the clinic until 12:30 and took off for a weekend at the beach afterwards. My energy was stable and calm, however I wasn’t really committed to the procrastination project any longer. The pressure I put on myself earlier in the week left a bad taste in my mouth. I was starting to feel like I had betrayed myself by taking on this experiment.
My Procrastination Project took place the first week of August….the most ironic part of this whole experiment is the fact that it’s taken me two and a half months to finally sit down and write it about it, go figure.
Since August my daily habits have not changed, the project wasn’t the game changer that I had hoped it would be. What has changed is my ability to accept these parts of myself that for so many years I’ve judged and rejected. My restful tendencies are a part of my composition, my Dosha is largely Pitta which means that a lack of self care can easily lead to a burnout, I learned this the hard way. So instead of transforming my brain like I had hoped, I learned a big lesson on self acceptance. I can’t force myself to become something I’m not, I can’t sacrifice my own self care for success or achievement.
What I can see clearly now is that this project was rooted in my attachment to success. My brain is hardwired to associate success with happiness. If my end goal is to be happy though, self care will offer that every day I choose to acknowledge it. Instead of attaching my happiness to some long term goal, I’m realizing that I can be happy and content in each and every moment that I’m honoring my boundaries and taking care of myself properly.
This experiment forced me to pick sides between my ego fighting for self worth, and my spirit searching for freedom and happiness. I don’t think I could have fully realized the path of destruction my ego has created had it not been for this experiment. Even though it had a completely different result than I had hoped for, it ended up offering a much more valuable lesson. Listen to your body and your mind will be free.