When “busy work” is just that, & you finally acknowledge it…

Maybe it’s the internet outages I’ve had the past week, or the odd schedule I’ve been trying to contend with. Maybe it’s looking at things in my old notebooks that just don’t gel anymore and I want to make them right. Maybe it’s that I just haven’t wanted to do housecleaning because I don’t have the slightest idea where to start.

Well, I made a decision a few minutes ago that enough is enough.

I’d spent a good chunk of my time surrounded by mess while at home, but feeling so overwhelmed by all the things I need to do that I have barely scratched any of it. The trap of being stuck on “planning” rather than “doing.”


And so, I turned to a project that is–if I’m being totally honest with myself–a major time-suck. I used to collect interesting quotations, and over the years I had enough for several notebooks.  It has nothing to do with anything, really, though it was something that would motivate me in the past.

It wasn’t until I remembered one of my fave de-motivational posters that I realized I’d been shooting myself in the foot since the new year.

from despair.com (seriously, these posters are freaking sweet)

Okay, maybe it’s not the PERFECT summation, but it made me think when I was spending my who-knows-how-manyeth day taking my old notebooks out to look up quotes and cut and paste others into new notebooks.

The project has taken on a massive scope, time, energy, resources, and as much as I want to think “oh, it’ll only take me a few more hours to finish this, so I might as well keep going”…


It’s not. A silly little side project like this is just that–a side project that isn’t going to get me anywhere.

It’s a crutch.

It gives me the illusion that I’m busy, perhaps even doing something good for myself. It’s a project started when I had little belief in myself and a shitload of depression. I collected motivational sayings to put with these new notebooks, and browsed online for hours for other ones from great or not-so-great authors for bad days.

And yet, what have I accomplished by doing all this? Absolutely nothing but waste time. But I have this odd need to finish a project once I start it, even if I have far more important things to do. It’s like a compulsion–I just have to do it and it won’t leave me alone.

However, there’s no way in hell that this will be finished any time soon, or maybe ever. I have let myself become totally distracted from the things I need to do most or want to do. I spent the weekend on the couch or doing snippets of chores (after transferring fish to a new tank) rather than cleaning house and being with the dogs.

I admit, the tiredness hit me hard this weekend because everybody’s starting to get sick again at work and elsewhere. I did get a major victory in the battle over my old house’s paperwork (I no longer ever have to deal with it again, whoo hoo!), so that’s a little stress off my shoulders.

After running around, getting that house paperwork signed and delivered for the last time, did I celebrate with a day out and relaxation? With yard work? A good book and some sangria? Music practice (which has been sorely lacking since the beginning of the new year)?

Nope. I jumped on the couch, let the mess pile up higher and higher, and worked on my quote books.

I hate these books now because I’ve let them suck up so much time and energy, and for what? Nobody is going to read them. Once I’ve written in them and finished the pages, I barely ever read them. I’m a big believer in “if you write it, you own it” and can remember it better. Mostly, though, tt’s just something to do that has taken all my time when there are other things that absolutely have to get done.

I’ve let minutiae take over what ought to be the dreams I must work toward.

The one good thing that this project time suck has done is remind me that if I want to get things done that will make me successful or fulfill my dreams, then I’d better get to them. That’s the basic gist of every successful writer, actor, director, athlete, or other type of artist I’ve written down in my notebooks.

I’ve seen about 10,000 quotes about getting things done that you believe in and taking charge of your life, so why can’t I take it to heart and actually do the work?

I’m getting my garbage can now, and I’m going to throw away these lousy fucking books I’ve wasted my time trying to fix or collect more quotes for. I’m scooping them in right now, and if I’m crying a bit, it’s because I was feckless enough to be so stupid as to waste my time on something that does no good in the long OR short term. Sure, there were some nice things in there, but I’m not going to read pages and pages and pages for days on end to make myself feel better.

I have enough to read as it is. It’s time to stop dreaming and using other people’s words and actually start writing and expressing my own. I didn’t realize it before, but it seems that what I’d been doing is living vicariously through other people’s words and dreams. Stop writing theirs down and make my own…if I can.

That would be easier if I actually knew myself, and let my mind flow and think, and come up with something great.idea-1876659_1280

I have too many crutches that have stalled me from growing, or letting myself grow. I keep convincing myself I’m too busy to really get things done that NEED to be done. My three priories are keeping the house in order (and cleaning up the yard/garage/shed when possible), exercise, and music. Writing is going to be up there soon if I’d get my ass in gear and actually flex that muscle again.

Even when I have no internet for days, there should be things to write. No more walls.

I don’t quite remember when that crutch came into existence, but it was several years before my dad passed, when I would find something very motivational said by a fave writer or actor or something. I’d put it on a post-it note and stick it on the side of my monitor, or hutch wall, somewhere. When things got worse or tenser, I’d be putting more up until I finally just got a notebook to write them in…which eventually became 12 notebooks.

OLICITY IS THE WAY? - Pensavo fosse amore e invece manco ...

Time-suck indeed. (Thanks, Colbert)

Those quotes made me feel something when I was at my numbest. My default setting when I’m alone is just being numb, not feeling anything. It could partly be that introvert thing and I’m worn out after a day at work talking, talking, talking and making people laugh or whatever. I’m very numb now, and perhaps that’s why I went back to the notebooks with gusto the past month. I just haven’t felt anything except tension and stress from doctor’s appointments and work and trying to organize and the old house issue (which is finally resolved and so it’s a bit of a relief).

Only I can change my life for the better. I know that. And yet part of me will say that I’m too clueless to know what to do for myself.

That’s partially true… my dreams have been buried for so long they’ve probably died. I don’t mind where I am at now, and who I work with (even if things get a bit nuts), but I’d be kidding myself if I thought this was a long-term gig or I should just work it and not do anything else.

No. I want to write, paint, play music. I want to have an edible garden and learn how to be more self-sufficient that way (and how to give surplus out at the best times). It takes time and energy to learn and relearn in between everything else, and I feel like a clueless idiot most of the time. Impostor syndrome rears its ugly head.


I have an appointment for a house call coming in two and a half days and this place is a wreck. So, the notebooks are going into the garbage (the few I didn’t throw out yet), and I’m going to sleep this crutch off. I need better, more useful coping mechanisms for my stress, depression and general malaise.

Hopefully setting up the punching bag and gym equipment, and going to kickboxing later this week, will help shake the funk out of me and get me really moving forward. I need to find a therapist and get this fog out of my head, too (stupid anemia’s not helping–makes me drink more coffee to keep me going, and then I’ve got difficulty sleeping and/or some shakes when I write).

I’m just angry that I wasted dozens of hours on these notebooks, but if I don’t throw these books away and stop NOW, I’ll waste hundreds more for nothing.

Time to try something else. Sleep, and clean all morning with some great music to get the energy going. I’m off to bed, hopefully with a lighter mind.

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