The other day I had the day off but my husband had to work and daycare was open. By 7:30 I was home alone and had the whole day to myself. I thought since I had so much time to myself I’d get a ton of things done.
I knew I should write a list so I’d have a better chance of actually doing them, but I had hot coffee and I never get to drink my coffee while it’s still hot, so I sat on the couch and turned on the news. I figured I deserved to drink my coffee hot at least once in awhile. I didn’t really care about the weather or any of the stories I saw, so I decided to look for something more interesting.
I saw that Bravo was doing a marathon of a show called Flipping Out and I decided to check it out. After the first episode I looked at the clock, saw how late it was and realized I really needed to eat. So I paused the show and went and got breakfast.
When I got some food, I figured I might as well watch some more tv while I ate breakfast because I couldn’t accomplish anything else while I ate. So I watched another episode.
I was feeling guilty because I couldn’t believe I was watching this crazy show about a guy running a design business in LA and all the drama with his employees and personal life, but I was totally hooked. Didn’t I deserve to hang out and watch some tv? I should be able to relax a little bit on my day off, right?
I mean, I had intentions of accomplishing all kinds of things, even though I didn’t really know what they were. I was going to get the house cleaned up, put everything away, do all those little things I never feel like I have time for. Instead I’m sitting on the couch watching reality tv. But I couldn’t stop watching.
It was just so easy to sit on the couch, even though in my mind I knew I should be doing something else.
When I sat down, I figured I’d just give myself 30 minutes or so, but every time I looked at the clock I couldn’t believe how late it was. I watched like three more episodes and then got some lunch and just went straight back to the couch. I looked up at the clock and it was 1:00pm and I still hadn’t showered yet. So, I jumped in the shower.
I couldn’t let my husband come home after a full day of work and dropping off the kids and see me still in my pajamas without having even taken a shower.
After I got out of the shower, I somehow convinced myself reading a book would be better than watching tv, so I got out my kindle. But the book I was reading wasn’t that great, so I turned the tv back on.
I was like “What is wrong with me? I have a whole day to get stuff done and I can’t get off the couch.” It was like once I sat down I couldn’t get back up. I was feeling really, really guilty about it but I just kept finding excuses not to do anything. I didn’t even remember what I wanted to get done. I thought I still had time. I’d look at the clock and think “I have three more hours till my husband gets home. I’ll just watch one more episode of Flipping Out.”
One episode turned into another and another. I looked at the clock and it was 3:30 and I realized my husband would be home in half an hour and the kitchen was a mess. I hadn’t put away any of the dishes I had used that day. Which I never do. I always clean up after myself.
So I had to go in the kitchen and clean up that mess and the next thing I knew he was home.
I wasted the whole entire day doing something I knew I shouldn’t be doing and feeling guilty about it. Not the best way to spend my day off.
Fast forward a few weeks and I was sitting on the couch reading a book on my phone, thinking about how I had to get everything ready for work the next day. I thought “I’m tired, I’ll just read for a few minutes and then I’ll do it.” Which makes no sense. I’m too tired to do it now but if I wait longer, I’ll be able to do it? I don’t know, but that’s what I thought. Then I told myself, I’ll just do it and read when I’m done. It will be my reward for actually doing it.
I had read several times in the past about rewarding yourself for doing tasks you’re procrastinating on, but I had never figured out a good reward. I could pick something arbitrary, but then it didn’t really have any meaning for me. I don’t want more stuff, so I couldn’t buy myself something. A piece of chocolate would be a good reward for me, but I always just eat it if I want it.
But that night, when I told myself the reward for getting all my stuff ready for the morning would be that I could read my book, it was like I had finally found a reward that made sense to me.
So I went in the kitchen and got the baby’s bottles ready for the next day, put all the pump stuff in the cooler bag and hooked it to my purse. I packed my breakfast and lunch and put it in the fridge. I went in my room and got my clothes out for the next morning, filled up my water bottle and put it by the bed.
Then I sat down again to read.
I actually enjoyed it. I wasn’t sitting there trying to relax, I was relaxing.
I wasn’t feeling guilty because I should be doing something else. I felt good because I had already accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.
So I tried this strategy again the next time I was procrastinating. And it worked. I try it any time I feel like I’m procrastinating or if I know I should be doing something else. Whatever I’m doing to procrastinate, I tell myself that will be the reward when I’ve finished the tasks I need to do.
I did the same thing tonight. I have a headache and Ivy was really upset about my husband putting her to bed, so I took over. Now my husband is putting Emma to bed and I wanted to just sit on the couch and read, but I also wanted to write this post. I was procrastinating because I wanted to get the story right and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it tonight, since I’m not feeling great and I’m tired.
But I told myself that I’d just work on it for 30 minutes and once I did that, then I could read. And that’s what I did.
So if you’ve ever sat around on the couch watching tv, reading or scrolling through Facebook feeling guilty because you know you have other things to do, give it a try. Put the phone down and tell yourself you’ll check Facebook after you get it done. See how it feels to scroll through Facebook feeling accomplished and relaxed instead of guilty.