Sunday, January 25, 2009


Today I had another realization. Part of the reason I often feel stressed and procrastinate is because I think too much about the possible outcomes of actions. I like making plans: planning my experiments, thinking up step-by-step recipe instructions, mapping out the routes to take to different places, organizing my schedule...even with simple tasks like doing laundry, I spend some time thinking about the order of loads. This is itself, although time-consuming, is not the reason I get in my own way.
I also think about the possible outcomes of each plan, and since there can be several, some being unfavorable, I try to think of ways to avoid the unfavorable outcomes. Before long any simple task seems overwhelming and troublesome. I start thinking that I need to think about it some more before I actually undertake it. I always find that when I actually take action, it is never as complicated as I originally thought, and although the outcome may sometimes be not as I expected, things usually turn out ok, even for the better.

I also find that if something I am doing is taking more time than expected and cuts into the time of what I had planned next, I start to feel stressed. I realized this today, when I was talking with my husband, who is in another country and to whom I nly get to speak to a couple of times a week. I was planning to go to work afterwards, and the longer we talked I found myself thinking along these lines: It's already the afternoon, I was planning to be at work by noon, will I get everything done at work that I was planning? Suddenly it hit me: It's Sunday, I'm having a great conversation with my husband and I'm stressing out about work!?! It's ridiculous! So then (after I finished talking with husband) I thought that I don't have to treat both aspects as one thing: I can separate the planning from the outcome anticipation. Making plans is good, but I don't have to be attached to the outcome before it actually happens. Because that's just as stupid as it sounds and a waste of time.

My new action layout is thus: think of what needs to be done, get it done. If it takes more time than anticipated, that's OK because the task got done. If an opportunity comes up unexpectedly, it's ok to drop any previous plans and follow the opportunity, because another one may not present itself. Family time is ALWAYS more important than work, especially on weekends. Spending less time worrying means more time to get stuff done. Period.

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