There are chores that give me anxiety. Â Some that give me the most trouble are quite simple on the surface, like making a phone call or renewing a gym membership. Â But indecision creeps in and I end up procrastinating, finding actions that help me avoid doing my To Do list. Â I probably should go into therapy for help with this, but this week I needed a quick fix to help me get over a few hurdles. Â After giving the matter some thought, I pieced together a technique of my own creation that worked fairly well. Â The technique combines a bit of meditation and the old method of “counting to ten,” except in my idea, I count to 100.
In order to explain it better, let me use an real example of a stressful situation —
I need to write an email to a producer in LA. It is freaking me out. I am insecure. My internal “selves” are fighting with each other over the content of the email. Â One self says the email is too wimpy; another that it reads too arrogant. The nasty self, a perennial bully, calls me a loser and announces the situation as hopeless. My head is spinning and I am hyperventilating from thinking too much about all of the options available to me. Â There are too many voices and too many choices.
What do I do in this situation? Â Well, I might go onto Twitter, for one. Â I can chat with friendly women with smiling avatars. Â This will help me relax. Â Â Soon, I will forget all about the email until it is too late to send it, and I will make the executive decision of putting it off until tomorrow.
Now, let’s see an example of Â Neilochka’s “100 Method” in action, helping me to stay on task:
First, I need to acknowledge to myself that I’m a cool guy with the minor problem of having a screwed up mind. Â That is why I want to procrastinate. Â My brain is fighting with me because I am neurotic, and this is painful, which causes me to avoid whatever task is at hand.
Since I have accepted myself as a cool, but screwed up, I choose to be nice to myself. Rather than berating myself, I will give myself the gift of procrastination.
But I will control it with a time limit of 100 counts.
So, I give myself permission to lie down on the bed or sit at my chair with my eyes closed and start counting to 100 in my head. Â The numbers are my internal mantra, so by the count of “25,” I have forgotten everything about my inner turmoil concerning the task. Â The voices have been silenced. Â My only focus is on the counting, like Zen meditation.
By number “50” I start thinking about my task again. Â Clearly, I’m not very good at meditation. Â But I know that already. Â And I accept that. Â But I feel the anxiety already returning. Â What should I do?
“Relax,” I tell myself. Â “You’re only at number “50.” There is plenty of time left to relax and procrastinate. Why worry when you are only half way there?”
This works surprisingly well, Â until I hit number “75.” Â Now, at 3/4 in, I am smart enough to know that my procrastination window is quickly getting closed shut. Â My brain reverts to that of an eight year old bratty child. Â I start crying, yelling and pounding the table, all in my head of course. Â I will do anything to keep my procrastination from ending.
But throughout this all, I continue counting. Â “76.” Â “77.”
I become Machivellian in my methods, dragging each syllable out, so the word “Seventy-seven” takes up to fives seconds in my head. I realize that I am cheating myself, but who’s going to know, other than myself?
By number “85” in the count, there is an all-out war raging in my brain, with tanks and hand grenades and atomic bombs. Â This is very different than the genteel neurotic indecision from earlier, where multiple selves debated in a civilized court. Â This is a knock-em, sock-em primal battle between two opposing forces. Â The choices are clear as good and evil —
1) Â Do I keep my promise of doing the task now that my procrastination time is over, like an honorable man —
2) — or do I blow it off like a lazy sloth?
By number “90,” this tough question stares at me, waiting for a reply. Â I can see nothing else but black and white, no shades of gray, no typical insecurities; the choices are “keep your own promise” or “be an asshole.”
By number “95” I realize that I have set myself up in a trap of my own making. Â I know that even if I was so devious to extend the count from 100 to 200 or even 1000, Â at a certain point, the bell will ring.
The Bell Always Rings. Â It is the fate of humanity.
By number “98” I am a man who has seen his own mortality. Â I live in a finite world and I must conquer it, despite my fears.
At number “99” I say goodbye to all of my procrastinating on this particular task, and as number “100” forms on my tongue and my eyes open, I can hear a marching band in my playing a personal fight song in my brain, inspiring me to act… and to act now.
“Now Get Up And Do That Task, You Motherf*cker!” the band plays hard, the trumpets blaring, the drums a-knocking, as I sit down to do the task.
Until the next task.