February 24, 2011

Paralysed by procrastination

I don’t know what I’m doing – figuratively shooting myself in the foot. The minutes tick past and it’s already 11PM. What am I doing? Still not planning for tomorrow. What the fuck Q? I hate myself for it but I can’t do anything about it. I’d love to just sleep. I’ve got too much work to do. Just too, too much. I can’t bloody control my humanities class. I have nothing for my legal studies classes. What the fuck. I feel awful. I feel so bad. I want to bawl my eyes out, but I can’t.


Why the hell am I so critical of myself? I have such hugely high expectations but there’s no point raising the bar if I’m too lazy to meet it. This is an awful feeling when you’re not only letting yourself down, but your students. It’s not that I couldn’t be a better teacher. It’s just that I procrastinate so much that they don’t get 100% of what I could get in. This week has been the worst – I planned my lesson in 20 minutes this morning while eating breakfast even though I knew it was being observed by my training advisor from Teach for Australia. Some days like today I just had to say fuck it, and wing it. It went fine, but personally, I was disappointed in myself because I knew I could do better.


My angel legal studies class in year 11 loves me. Some of them have told me it’s their favourite class, even though it’s hard – harder than maths. They willingly do the homework because they want to impress me. One of them even typed it up. They do everything I tell them to. They want so much to learn. I love their enthusiasm and their joy and their excitement at learning about the law and about being informed citizens beyond their little bubble of suburbia. I love seeing their faces staring at me when I’m teaching them a difficult concept, and when they get it and there’s that “ahhh, now I understand!” moment.


The most ridiculous thing is that no one believes that I’m completely unprepared. I know that I’m perceived to be this amazingly organised, super hard working and intelligent new teacher. The other day as I was chatting to the school principal, he laughed when I told him I didn’t prepare very much for my classes. A kind of laugh which implies, “Sure Lisa, I’ll believe you don’t prepare when insects turn into monkeys and start eating chips dipped in mustard.”


I know I’m self-aware. I over-think a lot, as well as try consciously not to think and just be. And without wanting to sound like one of those insecure overachieving “I don’t deserve my success” type people – there is a HUGE gap between how I am perceived and what I actually do. Even at my law firm: I spent hours and hours and hours reading articles from the New Yorker and the Atlantic and longform.org and going for coffees instead of doing my work and timesheets, and somehow people thought I was a great lawyer. Sure OK, people’s perceptions are important and half of being a good employee is how you’re perceived and not what you actually do. So I can play that kind of game very well, if it means looking the part. But. It doesn’t make me feel any better, because it feels totally fake and doesn’t translate to confidence.  It’s the difference between being intelligent and being hard working/organised  I’d like to be both. 


I’ve had countless conversations about procrastination. I have read a million articles about it, including why it can be a good thing. In this case though, it is just self-destructive. I have no self-discipline. I am very good at being in denial. My brain tells myself, “Sure Q, you’ll get through it no matter what. So why don’t you just go to yoga class, do some shopping, make a nice dinner for yourself, surf the web a bit, read a book, make a cuppa and have some chocolate, write in your journal…” and then of course it gets to 11PM and I have to plan until 2am and the next day after 5 hours sleep I can’t hack it and immensely dislike my lack of self-control.


Wow my brain needs to switch off – right now.


It’s a snowball. That means that every tiny insignificant little bit will help towards building me up into a more disciplined person… and less feeling like crap.


Irrationality rules the world! All this knowledge of what’s going to make me happy and more confident and sleep earlier – do I do any of it?  No.


I scraped my car against the garage today and ruined the side of it.  My mentor still hasn’t met up with me even though I’ve been at school for a month.  Ucker-fay. 


Yoga was lovely though.  So heavenly and peaceful and ahhhhhhh meditation.


  1. Wow wow WOW.

    Quentin, every single thing you've said in this entry I can relate to 110 per cent!

    You are most certainly not alone. I also constantly get praised and told I'm so hardworking despite the fact that I spent months and months last year unemployed, starting (and not finishing) job applications, surfing the net, writing blogs, reading books, and generally going "fuck it, the world won't end if I don't do [x, y, z]".

    I would LOVE to be more self-disciplined. I think I spend more time thinking about getting stuff done, than actually getting it done!

    I wish we were teachers together. Then we could push each other along. I need something like that, but it's difficult to find anybody who will give me a kick in the butt because nobody believes that I have a procrastinating problem!

    -Red Shirt

  2. ME three on this one. But that said, the luxury to just have time to THINK is totally undervalued by society. Everything says if you are doing something all the time, you are wasting your life.

    I agree with you both though, finding the right balance is difficult.

  3. Red Shirt, I would love to be a teacher with you. We should start up our own school. Join Teach for Australia. You'd be amazing at it! :)

    And Pivot, you're right... glad I'm not alone... Time to think isn't valued and just time alone is almost strange. You mean I have to spend 5 minutes doing nothing while I wait for a friend? What am I going to do? Of course I'll just go on my phone, listen to my mp3 player etc. etc. This could be a rant in itself!


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