By the time this blog post is published, I will I have been practicing self-isolation for 40 days.
Since the beginning of this international time off from life, I have entertained at least seven brilliant ideas on how to make use of this coronavirus quarantine situation in the most productive, abundant and creative of ways. I know almost exactly what I want to achieve, I have somewhat of an idea how to get there and I’m aware of a few good time management theories, techniques and tools.
Yet, I find myself drowning in a deep sea of procrastination. My big, hairy, audacious goals no longer motivate me at this point no matter how hard I try. It’s like trying to rev up an engine to no avail, because the battery needs charging.
I wake up super early every single morning with no alarm. I do all the right things like staying hydrated and eating healthy (except for the ice cream and cookies!). I go out on “socially responsible” walks and I video call my friends and family for mutual emotional support.
However, I am only capable of getting the bare minimum done. Almost every time I sit to work on something that builds toward future plans, my monkey mind shows up to dominate the scene.
While writing this blog post, probably due to relevance, I remembered this self-help book I have been wanting to look-up for a few months. All it takes is to click that little plus sign on your browser and open a new tab. The result was a good half hour spent on looking the book up, comparing hardcopy and e-book prices until I made the decision of getting it. Of course, a voice in my head convinced me that this was a productive thing to do for my long-term self. Bravo, Mona. But, did I get back to the task at hand? Absolutely not.
My monkey mind decided that it was time for a recreational break. So, I randomly picked up my ukulele and started singing for what must have been an hour. By the time I was done with my artistic escapade, it was time to get on a video call I had scheduled with a few friends back in Egypt. I finished my 90-minute call and had, of course, entirely lost track of what the originally planned task of the day was.
It was already well past midday which was time for filling the food tank. Because my monkey mind cannot care less about time, it inspired me to start making veggie burgers… from scratch. I spent a good portion of the afternoon dicing mushrooms, shredding carrots, slicing onions and making perfectly circled patties, watching them sizzle in a pan while daydreaming about finishing my blog post. I sat down to eat as I scrolled through my newsfeed, then I stumbled upon a standup comedy video list.
I read once that procrastination is not a personality flaw, but rather an emotional regulation issue. While this makes me feel better about myself, it also makes a lot of sense. In the article I read, a study suggests that reasons behind putting off important tasks include fear of failure or big complicated tasks. Both lead us to distract ourselves by doing something else that seems like a short-term positive “hedonic-shift”.
The fear of failure reason is very true in my case. Perfectionism is something I continue to fight against. Fear of failure and complexity is probably even truer right now if I factor in the unknown future that awaits me and the whole wide world after the pandemic is over.
Everything you read these days suggests how the world is never going to be the same again – not exactly the best news for anyone who has, or used to have plans. When I dig deeper, I find myself wondering if all my plans are worth working on now that I have to incorporate the economic, social and political repercussions of an unprecedented global phenomenon that is shutting down the world until further notice. I wonder, do my goals still make sense?
I’m quite sure I need to adapt, but it is too early to determine what is it exactly that I need to adapt to or how. Both my thoughts and emotions are not leveling up to this new challenge. But, during the times when I am in better spirits, I tell myself that I honestly need not worry.
Someone shared this tweet by a person called Neil Webb recently it has helped me dial down my self-criticism and, to an extent, empathize with my monkey mind during these times. It says, “You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.” There is a huge difference.
There is no catalogue and I realize that the best thing to do now, is to keep on trying to work at my own pace as I strum my ukulele.