December 21. With twelve days of vacation stretched in front of me, visions of organizational grandeur peppered my thoughts. I had closets to clean, documents to organize, and rooms to conquer. I finally had time to attack the accumulating detritus of domesticity, and I would prevail!
January 1, 5pm. Still in my pajamas, I looked around my house, blinking as if just waking up from a long sleep. Except for a few newly added deposits of Christmas gifts littering the landscape, my house looked the same as it had eleven days prior. I hadn’t accomplished a single thing on my list–nor had I tried.
In the remaining hours of the evening, I managed to dismantle a Christmas tree; wash, dry, and fold three loads of laundry; make dinner; and resolve a couple of nagging work issues. I accomplished more between 5 and midnight that evening that I had during the cumulative rest of my vacation. I’m ashamed of myself.
I realized in hindsight that I had been exhibiting this behavior for quite some time. Although I would be appropriately productive during the work week, weekends would come and go with only a last-minute flurry of activity on Sunday night. It was as if, when faced with the looming prospect of a very real “something to do,” my brain would suddenly switch into let’s-get-something-done mode. When faced with a blank canvas of time however, it would retreat into limbo.
This isn’t a new concept for me (for proof, read Do something from September 2011). Even so, I continue to relearn the lesson which I conveniently push to the recesses of my mind until I trip over it on idle days and fall on my face. As much as I crave a life (or a few days) of leisure, I find that I need a little bit of pressure to keep me moving forward. I need not just a goal, but also a deadline. Margaret Thatcher knew it, too:
Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it. –Margaret Thatcher
Do something, Tammy. Do something.
Note: Thanks to Kayla Cruz for her post, Being Overwhelmed, which got me thinking about all of this again.