organize your (messy) to-do list on a calendar
What type of person are you?
A wishful thinker?
Or a firefighter?
If you’re not sure, here’s the situation: your to-do list keeps growing, mixing personal and professional items, important and non important matters, meaningful and futile stuff.
Read the following profile descriptions and depending on what your natural reactions are; see in which category you fall.
The Doer: Doers are almost perfect. They have no problem getting things done in a timely manner. They’re top-of-the-class in life and at work. A Tetris world champion, the doer finds a spot for evey single item of their to-do list in their google calendar: reporting sheets are sent to the headquarters every Friday at 4 PM, ascension of the Himalayas is scheduled for March 25, 2019. Name of the third baby is Ayla, scheduled for December 2020. Wife to meet yet.
Flaws: The Doer is also referred to by other categories as “the control freak”. Because they’re efficient, they can get a bit bossy. When they can’t fit everything and everyone in their schedule, they get upset. Their main problem: everywhere, at work and life, they’re surrounded by the 4 other categories.
The Procrastinator: The procrastinator is a widespread species. They have so many interests in life, from playing this song in C minor to quantum physics that they don’t have time to get work done. Watching Facebook videos on how to make the best avocado spread in 30 seconds, Youtube the full history of Trump’s handshakes with Macron, stare at the ceiling wondering when this tile is going to fall takes 90% of their time. The remaining 10 %, they stress and feel guilty about what they should have done but haven’t.
Flaws: The procrastinator has lots of fun in life. Their only problem is that –at some point- work has to be done. With them, only thigh deadlines, pressure, and life threats work. Their main problem in life: no deadline (or no boss) = no work done. And when it comes to personal projects, where there is usually no one to boss them around, procrastinators can feel like a mess: like the talented -but failed-but talented-but failed- future next-version of Marc Zuckerberg.
The Wishful Thinker: Whatever is on their to-do list, Wishful Thinkers think they can make it. Create a blog, write one post a day, grow their skin care line, take care of their families and have a rich and interesting social life, all of this is possible. In the Wishful Thinker’s life, planning is not necessary because time is forever expandable. The Wishful Thinker has an optimistic and distorted perception of their abilities: they make no difference between their hopes and reality.
Flaws: The Wishful Thinker is usually happy and worry-free. The only outcome they can imagine is a positive one. Until they realize life doesn’t always have the same agenda as them. In that case, the wishful thinker has a spectacular ability to drown theatrically. They collapse because while they were innocently whistling and climbing the mountain, wearing all but the appropriate gear, they never considered the option of a failure. The Wishful Thinker is a hopeless case. They are totally unable to take profit of past experiences. They have a terrible memory and on the rare occasions where they can remember something, it’s only the good stuff.
The Ostrich: For the Ostrich, reality lacks magic. The Ostrich likes Disneyland, strawberry ice-cream with rainbow sprinkles and listening to music while eating honey coated nuts. In front of a to-do list, the Ostrich panics. They bury their head in the sand, hoping the scaring items will auto-destroy or be taken care of by other people. The Ostrich has no doubt about the efficiency of their exceptional camouflage techniques. None. Never.
Flaws: The Ostrich usually wakes up at 3 AM, in may-day mode unable to go back to sleep because the to-do list is still here. In the morning, the Ostrich is dead tired. And goes back to sleep. In some occasions, a bad nights’ sleep isn’t a good enough excuse for the Ostrich to go back to bed. Therefore, the Ostrich has developed a variety of alternative psychosomatic escape techniques: back pain that stucks them in bed, growing herpes that prevents them from attending this meeting, etc. At odd and unpredictable moments -or when the Ostrich is out of stratagems- they raise their head, run like crazy in all directions, frenetically crossing things out of their to-do. When they feel satisfied, the Ostrich buries their head back in the sand. And repeats the process from scratch.
The Firefighter: The Firefighter is the evolved version of the Procrastinator, the Wishful Thinker or the Ostrich, when these 3 categories can’t meet their deadlines. In some extreme cases, the Firefighter is a naturally born one. The Firefighter loves action. They’re super busy, super active, super efficient and proud of the job they get done. Firefighters are very good at auto gratification. Their favorite pseudo: Lord of the Flames. The Firefighter’s drive is adrenaline and their long-term perspective is… tomorrow. At most. On their to-do list, first served is the one who puts the most pressure: this client who calls 10 times for a quote, this accountant who wants the tax information for yesterday, this supplier whose invoice was due 2 months ago…The Firefighter works night and day and has very long shifts. So when the fire is extinguished, the Firefighter needs to rest. And to go back to their original version: Procrastinator, Wishful Thinker or Ostrich.
Flaws: The Firefighter doesn’t know what planning is. Even when they do, they don’t care. The Firefighter sees themselves as the superheroe of modern times: always busy, always in mouvement. The Firefighter lives on the verge of a perpetual imminent collapse: burn-out or not burn out, that is their question.
I think none of us falls is in one category only. We fluctuate between 2 or more, depending on our emotional and psychological balance.
The last days, I’ve been a happy enthusiastic Wishful Thinker, with a growing to-do list and an imminent deadline: my travel to Morocco mid-June. Still, my enthusiasm and my belief that I could make everything on time had no limits.
Until the the top-of-the class doer in me, judgmental and bossy as usual, shamed her out and took control of the situation: time to take a calendar, and fit every important item of the to-do in it.
Wishful Thinker was pissed, especially because she had to work for that until midnight yesterday.
But she’s gonna be fine.
Remember, Wishful Thinker has a terrible memory and on the rare occasions where they can remember something, it’s only the good stuff.
And you, what are you?
WHY IS IT SELF-CARE? “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” Winston Churchill
MORE ABOUT THIS
Today, I want to share with you this funny and witty 12-minutes Ted Talk by Tim Urban
about procrastination. A must-watch if your dominant personality is Procrastinator.