Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Overestimating Time

One of the great problems I have with my own procrastination is that I vastly overestimate the time it takes to do most things.

Mind you, this does not seem to apply to work for some reason - I have very realistic grasps of what it takes to accomplish something at work.  Yet oddly enough, I cannot apply this same logic to my own personal life.

In my world, simple tasks apparently take hours; longer tasks can be days or weeks in my mind of arduous labor slowly accomplished.  This can even apply to tasks that I have done multiple times in the past - somehow, the memory of the task has extended in my mind until everything is a mountain that must be hiked up and crossed.

What I have come to realize is that in fact this sort of thinking is my mind trying to subvert my ability to actually get anything done - in other words, I seem to be consciously putting obstacles in my way from accomplishing things.  I am, apparently, my own worst enemy.

A simple example from today:

My very expensive and highly designer compost bin - a 55 gallon plastic trash can - finally succumbed to years of UV light and weather.  It was full of course, so the compost in the bin had to be transferred out, the bin removed, a new bin created (really by cutting out the bottom of another 55 gallon plastic trash can), the bottom buried in the ground, and the compost replaced in the bin.  To my mind this was going to take an entire afternoon of arranging and shoveling and moving.

Except I did not have an afternoon.  I had an hour this evening.  So in the course of an hour I performed all the tasks listed above, as well as mowing the lawn.  Done.

This is ridiculous, of course.  How could I convince myself that something that would take hours and hours really only took a single hour.  Was it difficult?  No.  Was it rewarding to accomplish?  Yes.

And there, I think, we have the culprit.  I really do not want myself to succeed.

That is a pretty powerful statement.  But as I look at my life and the excuses in time management I make, they are inevitably about things that will actually improve my life in one way or another (yes, even moving the compost made my life better).  By accomplishing them, I am forced to move on to other things.  I no longer have an excuse that I can employ against not moving forward ("Well, you  know, I would go ahead a plant everything but this darn compost is tying me up in knots...").

Whether it is editing or studying or practicing or even writing this blog, I can always find a reason it will take to long and so I should not do it.  Because having low accomplishments because you can never really finish the work because it takes to long is, apparently, more acceptable than realizing that you can do what you put your mind to - and thereby become responsible for actually getting on with your life.


  1. Hi TB. That is a very interesting thought, and I'm sorry to hear that you don't want yourself to succeed. Our fears are so useless to us, because succeeding at something, as you said, is so rewarding. I wish you luck in reigning that in. You deserve to feel great in life and feel the rewards, even if it only takes an hour of work! I hope I didn't miss the point! :)

  2. Well Hi Rain! I am sure glad you are back!

    You did not miss this point. There is a subtle streak within myself that does not want to let me succeed for some reason that I do not fully understanding. You are correct - most fears are useless and in fact, are spending today for a tomorrow that may not come (insert any folk proverb reference here).

    The question I have to starting asking is "Why"? Why am I not wanting to help myself along? Therein, I suspect, lies the answer.


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