First things first: I’m a massive magazine fiend. It’s my secret guilty pleasure. I like to consider myself a minimalist but when it comes to magazines I have a pile just sttaaccckkkedddd that I’m never going to get rid of because I consider them to be so wholesome.
Do you want a list of my favourite magazines because I will gladly supply you with one:
– Slow Living
Come to think about it, I probably like magazines so much because they fuel my procrastination. In my mind it doesn’t feel as bad as picking up a book to read because the articles are short. It’s so much more justifiable. “Oh I’m just going to read one article AND THEN I’ll do the things.”
I picked up Womankind the other day on a procrastination trip around the shops. I didn’t even look at the cover but now I’m looking at the photo below I see it says “the secret to motivation.” Well, didn’t it get me good!
The first article in Womankind is about the secret to motivation and it explains how our brain works when we overwhelm it with new activities too quickly. It says that a way to overcome this brain flooded with overwhelming feels and shutting down new routines is to start them slowly. This so also known as ‘kaizen’ in ancient Japanese philosophy which means continual improvement. You don’t rush in to a new routine but rather slowly work it in to your daily life slowly to trick your brain into change in a way that it doesn’t get overwhelmed.
I really like this idea.
Actually, this idea was first presented to me by my psych. I told her that all I ever do is procrastinate despite wanting to do the things I needed to. I just couldn’t force myself to do them in the brain. Her advice? Start something slowly and without much commitment. She said that to start an assignment I should begin with the task of writing one sentence. That’s it. I couldn’t resist and tell her this was a dumb idea because it was such a small task. I also couldn’t not do it myself because it was such a small task. What happened was that when I approached things this way I’d end up actually doing them entirely! One sentence is never one sentence – it’s the entire assignment completed before I even knew it or intended to finish it, let alone even start it! This was a life-changing philosophy for me. I’d found a way to stop procrastinating that didn’t feel life-shattering.
Fast forward a year and I’m back frozen with anxiety, dread and lacking energy to do much of anything, let alone actual tasks I want to complete or actually need to do. I put everything off. I even don’t pay bills when I get them. Not because I don’t have money to pay them but just because I caaaaaannnnn’ttttt bring myself to do it. It’s so fucking ridiculous, I know. I’m not debating how stupid this is. I spend my whole life thinking about the bill I need to pay but never actually doing it. This is the same with every other task in my life. And then it just becomes a snowball effect of having too many things I need to do and being even more frozen.
My best friend even called me out on this the other week. She randomly messaged me telling me she’d figured out my problem and it was that I avoid everything out of anxiety – whether I knew it or not. I couldn’t even argue with her. Someone had found me out. Someone had actively called me out on it. This was a first for me. But it’s a wake up call! Now I can’t be that person who avoids everything in life because someone over in the corner is watching me knowing the exact psychological reason I do it. I can’t live like that knowing someone knows! HAHAHA I’m actually so mentally weird, whatever.
Since then I’ve been actively trying not to avoid things. I’m taking it slowly but it’s definitely working now that I am conscious of the fact that I do it and know why I do it. I decided to open up the email with my bill in it and just look at it. Within a minute the bill was paid and all the worry was out of my mind. Then I was left with the “why the fuck did it take you a month to pay this bill when it took one minute of your life but you spent one whole month of your brain time everyday thinking about it?????”
I’ve also found myself socially stunted too. I can’t fathom going out and seeing people. One of the major reasons is because I can’t make plans. I can’t simply wake up like the average person and know their baseline health is going to be average. Everyday I wake up and I don’t know what I’m waking up to. Will I feel like lead? Will I yawn and fall asleep everywhere and on everything? This really does stop me seeing people because I only ever want to give them the best of me, which I hardly ever can be any more. So last week I made plans and thought fuck it. I’m just going to commit to this, show up and do the best with what I’ve been given for that day. Guess what? I didn’t die. I wasn’t anxious once I arrived. I had an amazing time. I felt so inspired by the conversation and the soul and vibes of my pal. I felt alive! I felt so happy coming away from that interaction that it makes me want to see more people! Be a social butterfly (kidding I’m a meek introvert at the best of times).
Addressing adult procrastination is boring and it’s also not the end of my procrastination. I actually procrastinate hobbies too! Surprise, surprise. My whole life is a void of procrastination where I do nothing other than procrastinate and not even procrastinate by doing fun hobbies but by being frozen with anxiety and dread and fear.
Back to Womankind. Womankind asked readers to come up with something they’ve always been meaning to do but never had the time to incorporate into their life. They asked them to do it for two minutes a day. Just two minutes! And write about it.
It was soooo inspiring to read! It was people like me who couldn’t possibly fathom the idea of incorporating a new routine into their life that would have positive outcomes and would stick. The sticking part is definitely the hardest for me, I find. I’ll do something for a week and then it just drops off. Now I realise it’s probably because everything I commit to starts with half an hour a day of doing the thing and my brain gets scared.
Anyway, the readers wrote about simple things such as reading poetry, sitting on the balcony, looking at the stars, learning a language, taking time out for yourself etc. Just small, wholesome activities that greatly improved your life for more than the two minutes it took to do them. Womankind then leaves the magazine reader with the challenge of committing to doing a new activity for two minutes each day for three months. It sounds soooo easy and achievable that it actually makes me want to try it! This is my psych theory on procrastinating coming in to play again!
It’s also perfect timing for me because I’ve already been trying to incorporate things I love into everyday more and more. I’m almost vitamin d deficient and I’ve never done anything to help this other than taking some tablets. I’ve already decided I want to spend more time in the sun. I’ve been actively going out and reading in the sun in small bursts whenever I take Bindi outside to pee. SIMPLE YET EFFECTIVE. I love it! And it’s not a life changing thing so it doesn’t feel like a big deal or something I need to get scared about but I can tell it is actually improving my overall happiness. Another thing I have semi-committed to is checking out the moon every night again, when I take Bindi to pee. I want to be more in tune with the moon phases and I’m finding it really satisfying being able to tell anyone on any given day what phase the moon is in!
Another thing I absolutely love is sitting down having a cup of tea and reading. I love the process of brewing the tea and waiting for it to cool down. Again, not a life changing activity but something that overflows my mind with joy.
I find that when I’m doing very small things I enjoy and love on a regular basis I’m so much happy and I’m also so much more inclined to seek out other small things to do and enjoy. Then my happiness explodes all over everyone and everything! Imagine if it’s that easy???
This coming Monday I’ll be settled in my new house in my new city. This means I’ll have the time and resources to commit to two minutes a day for new things. I cannot wait. I’m thinking I’ll commit to five different things. That’s only 10 minutes a day!!!!!!!!!! Five things of pure happiness which only amounts to 10 minutes a day!! What is the world?
Here’s my list:
– Mindfully water my plants and show my love and gratitude to them
– Walk with a purpose (I don’t know the english translation but it’s Chinese for going for a walk everyday with no purpose actually hahaa)
– Moon gaze
– Spend two minutes alone without distractions or social media
– Soak up the sunshine
What would be your top five? I’m interested to know!