When it comes to certain things, usually important things such as my Uni assignments, I am aware that I have a tendency to procrastinate. We all know what that means but I decided to look it up anyway and, although in its simplest definition – ‘put off doing something’ – I fit the bill, reading on I was miffed to read – ‘and especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness’.
Careless? Yes sometimes, in relation to spilling or dropping things. Lazy? Absolutely not! Even on what I consider my ‘couch-potato’ days I’m still active catching up on one neglected chore or another, like gardening. Why did I start with this? Because, while having a serious word with myself (quietly in my head you understand), I told myself to ‘stop procrastinating, knuckle down and finish the flaming end of module (EMA) assignment’. This got me wondering what the actual definition of procrastinating is and wishing I hadn’t bothered.
Getting back to ‘putting off’ my assignment I assured myself I would do it… as soon as I’d helped Pete cut back the trees that were taking over the front garden. This was work I couldn’t do myself; it was the last week of the summer holidays and the weather was absolutely beautiful. In the middle of the garden we went from this:
And in another part from this:
As you see, it was worth doing.
Confident I had plenty of time to read the rest of the module book AND get the essay finished I carried on… ‘It’s ok, I’ll do the reading and make notes tonight,’ I’d keep saying to my husband. Well, I don’t know about you, but for myself the combination of fresh air and physical labour – which are great – had me knocked out as soon as I was on my far-too-comfy sofa each night!
All too quickly the non-negotiable deadline for submission was upon me and, on top of the much reduced time I had left myself, I now had the added problem of my brain no longer functioning as it should. I read the same lines, paragraphs and quotations over and over again but nothing was sinking in. When it did sink in, I seemed to have completely lost the ability to reproduce any of the information into a coherent, flowing sentence let alone produce an essay!
I used the word count function after every paragraph hoping against all odds that the magic number of 2000 words had somehow materialised and I just hadn’t noticed as I was so tired. But no. Getting from 200 words to 635, then 987 was painstakingly slow and time really was running out now. As a mother, I often say to my children things like:
“What’s the worst that can happen? If the worst isn’t going to harm you, or someone else then it isn’t really worth crying about is it? Come on, wipe your tears, everything has a solution. If you can do something about it do it but if you can’t, then dry your tears and stop worrying.”
Ha! What a lot of crock! I now remember why we sometimes cry ‘over nothing’. I was beside myself with anxiety and at one point actually felt like crying as there was no other outlet for my frustrations. To make matters worse the pressure I was now under was entirely my own fault. How comforting it would have been to have had someone, or something else to blame but no, the blame lay firmly at my own feet.
It’s now very late on Wednesday evening (early hours of Thursday!) and the deadline is tomorrow at 12:00noon. There is a ‘grace period’ of twelve hours so, in reality, I had until midnight but with work tomorrow until 1:00pm, a supervision meeting, two different times for the school runs and a family meal to sort out I continued to quietly, internally, fall apart. What to do, what to do? Pull yourself together that’s what! As I tell my children what’s the worst that could happen? I would fail the module and this was not an option for me so what was the solution? I needed to buy myself more time and calm the heck down.
My lovely, lovely boss allowed me to finish early on Thursday (extra time). My supervision group encouraged and prayed for, and with me (calming). And, for the first time in a while, before I sat down on that Thursday afternoon to knuckle down to the task in hand, I prayed. I used a wonderful little prayer from the Celtic Daily Prayer Book written for studying and working. To lay my frustrations on the shoulders of Christ and trust to Him all I had to do was so comforting. Praying is something I usually do throughout each and every day, whether it’s giving thanks for waking up or praying over a situation I spot when I’m on my way to work, but hadn’t been doing it as frequently lately.
I was now calmer and back into my ‘you can do this’ frame of mind. Oh, the joy of seeing words appear on the screen that flowed and linked each paragraph together coherently, satisfying the criteria of the assignment that had been set. Before I knew it (although this was still quite late into Thursday evening), I had 1825 words on the page, well within the 10% margins we are given. At 11:27pm I hit the ‘submit’ button and you would not believe the immense weight that lifted from my shoulders. Woo-hoo! It was finished. Hoorah!
Apart from what might be – to quote our funny Mr John Cleese – ‘the bleeding obvious’ of managing my time better, I was reminded that not only are we instructed to ‘pray about all things’ but for me personally it’s essential to all that I do something I need to return to as something that is as automatic as breathing.
If like me you’re putting something off that really needs to be done, may the peace of the Lord envelope you and the weight be lifted from your shoulders. Once it’s completed, again like me, you will feel lighter, freer and be able to joyfully say… “What a relief!”
Have a blessed day 🙂