I've always put stuff off until the last minute. When it comes to tasks that have concrete deadlines, like papers in college or reports for work, I've made my peace with that. Yes, procrastinating generates a lot of stress right before the deadline, but I also work efficiently and produce good work under pressure.
It's the stuff with no deadline that kills me. Sometimes it's the job hunt, or writing a letter to a friend, or something as simple as buying groceries. These things linger well past the point of mild discomfort (especially when it comes to stocking the pantry). It all stresses me out, but most of all, it makes me feel terrible about myself.
I've always been told that procrastination is a sign of laziness. I procrastinate, therefore I am lazy. I no longer believe that to be true (though it still feels true). First and foremost, I've found that procrastination is a crippling ailment of the perfectionist. I put off the tasks that I am most particular about, or when I am most afraid that I will fail. Every time I sat down to write a paper in college, I would write a few sentences, read them, hate them, and close my laptop to take a nap. Simple tasks, though? I routinely go above and beyond. I've distinguished myself for that at multiple low stakes jobs that I've held over the years. It's hard for even a perfectionist to stress too much about the quality of a good floor sweeping or inventory count.
Somehow, I got past my procrastination well enough to finish an advanced degree. After that, things sort of fell apart. I've failed a lot, and rather than becoming more comfortable with failure, I'm more afraid of it than ever. So now, not only am I a perfectionist, but I'm also burnt out. It's that burnout that keeps me from doing stupidly simple things like grocery shopping.
Maybe this 200 words a day challenge will help with that. It's been painful to click publish on things that I know are incomplete and unpolished. I grimace at the way in which I tend to ramble. Still, that kind of failure is low stakes. I can weather it. Maybe my past mistakes made me more afraid to screw up simply because they were too monumental to cope with. Hopefully the smaller errors can provide me with an opportunity to reset expectations.