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Dilate or Procrastinate

I seem to have developed a serious issue with excessive procrastination in lockdown. I want to be firmly in the Get Shit Done mindset but I'm usually in the mañana mentality. I just do not have the will to do ANYTHING.


Even right now! I did the whole "I'll just watch ten more minutes of that show show before starting" this post. Which turned into two whole episodes and four days of further avoidance. I'm pleased to confirm I'm on episode 8 of the show though, so at least I did achieve something.


We all seem to procrastinate from time to time, probably for a variety of reasons and I think, for me at least, lockdown has exacerbated the situation. Now that time no longer exists, it's much harder to stick to a routine. So why are we doing this to ourselves?!



Am I lazy?

Back in my 20's I thought procrastination came about either through laziness or through a lack of planning. I am seriously embarrassed about how much of an irritating over achiever I was back then. Now I'm older and care significantly less about everything, I often don't notice when I'm procrastinating. And even if I do, it's really hard to stop.


For sure, sometimes I am just being lazy (or I'm genuinely exhausted). This is easy to spot because usually I'll be doing something like watching TV or just sitting snug in bed in the middle of the day. Other times I'll be pretty productive in my procrastination. I will clean and reorganise the whole house, starting by organising my pants by shape and colour. This is boring, ridiculous and probably takes more effort than just doing the thing that I'm avoiding, so it can't just be about laziness.



OK, so am I disorganised?


Well no, I just openly admitted that I sometimes organise my pants into the colours of the rainbow (honestly not very often, only when I'm truly avoiding something, I'm really very cool). But seriously, I plan and organise things for a living and I'm good at it. I make a point of hitting deadlines or delivering early. I can multitask and I can prioritise. So this isn't a lack of organisational skills, or a lack of planning. I can produce a really great detailed chart of how I'm going to do something, and then still sit back and not do it.




SO WHAT THE HELL IS THE PROBLEM?!


Most of the time I think I can recognise that I am avoiding doing something because it is unpleasant or scary in some way. It comes down to that fact that I just do not want to do the thing that I'm avoiding. It's usually something that bores me to tears (any and all work), or fills me with dread (like inserting dilators into my vagina), or makes me use too much energy (like exercising).


I use my imagination and anxiety to produce a wide range of creative excuses - It's too cold, It's too late, I'm too tired, I need to watch this programme, I have to get up early, I just washed my sheets, I just had a shower, I'll do it tomorrow.


Although my dilating sessions really aren't that bad, sometimes they can be uncomfortable, either physically and emotionally. I'm always worried about what it means if I have a 'bad' dilating session, and that can't happen if I don't start. I'm also often very overwhelmed by the prospect of getting to the fifth and final dilator. It all just feels like climbing 10x Mt. Everests. Without oxygen. Naked.


If I don't dilate then I don't have to acknowledge any of these scary things. And importantly, no one is going to hold me accountable if I don't do it.



Short term gain, long term pain

The thing is, it doesn't really make any sense to put things off until later. Especially with vaginismus. I'll go to great lengths to avoid dilating but instead of feeling happier, I just feel an intense hot guilt.


The guilt builds and builds until it becomes overwhelming and panic sets in. My body immediately floods with adrenaline and other stress chemicals and finally I pick up my dilators. Usually it's not a great session and then I feel bad about that too.


Avoidance might feel like the easier option in the short term but when I avoid my dilating, I'm delaying my recovery and prolonging the situation. Turning my brain into a giant melting pot of guilt.


Wow. F-U-N. So - the question I often scream inside my own head, at least 3 times per day:




HOW CAN I STOP PROCRASTINATING AND START DOING?


Lots of people rely on lots of different tricks and techniques so I think you have to pick what works for you. These are a few that work quite reliably for me. When I can remember to do them. It will probably also depend on the 'why' behind your procrastination, as to what tool you select to overcome it.


1 - Start Small


If you're overwhelmed by the amount or size of the tasks on your to-do list, be realistic. Break the task(s) down into what is actually achievable. Start small. What is the tiniest thing that you can do to start right now? Not tomorrow, NOW.


For example, if like me you're overwhelmed at the idea of having to dilate every day and get through your entire set of dilators as soon as possible, forget about the bigger task and just focus on the smallest most tiny thing that you can do TODAY that will move you forwards.


It might be finding the box of dilators at the back of your wardrobe, opening it and just looking at them. It might be putting a calendar reminder in your diary for the weekend to try a dilating session. It could be holding the dilator in your hand for 2 minutes to start getting comfortable looking at it. The point is, it should be something small that doesn't terrify or overwhelm you.


2 - Swallow the frog


Not literally. Poor frogs.


Almost in perfect contradiction to number 1, it is sometimes good to start with the thing you are most avoiding because it might be blocking you from doing all the other stuff on your list. It still needs to be appropriate for YOU (not me, or anyone else on the internet) and achievable. For example, if you have been avoiding making a doctors appointment, or purchasing the dilator set, maybe this is the one you should tackle! Once you have overcome that first big hurdle, the other stuff might not seem so bad.

3 - Something is better than nothing & done is better than perfect


Even if you only do something small towards the task, say completing 10% of it, at least that gets you further forward than doing 0%. There's no sense in avoiding doing something because you don't think you can do it perfectly or because you don't think you have time to finish it, because duh doing nothing is always going to be worse.


So if you're worried about dilating because you're worried you won't progress fast enough or you won't be able to insert the whole dilator. That's totally OK! Half the battle with dilating is just turning up and doing the work, so even if it's not a perfect session at least you showed up and took part. Progress will come with time, but only if you START.



4 - Self Bribery


AKA Positive reinforcement. Sometimes I promise myself I can have a delicious snack AFTER I do a task. It sometimes (often) backfires and I procrastinate by getting the snack plate ready and then eating said snack plate, so do be extra vigilant for that.

With dilating you can try making the session more pleasurable - introduce some self love into the mix. That might look like setting a nice environment - cushions, candles, a bath or turning up the heating. It might look like introducing arousal and playing with yourself afterwards. Or it might be a snack. Both work well.


5 - Go Public

For bigger tasks and goals, where appropriate, make public commitments. I'm much more likely to do something if someone else is expecting me to deliver. Especially if they follow up to ask how I'm getting on. And OK so you might not want to announce your dilating goals to your work colleagues, but you can for sure announce them in a support forum, to your health practitioner, or to a friend.



6 - Pick the most fun thing on the list


If you're really really stuck, just get yourself going again by doing just ONE of the more fun and easy things on your list. It'll make you feel better because you've achieved something and it doesn't take too much energy. You might even enjoy it.




9 - Time yourself

Get a stopwatch, use your phone, download the PowerPom app, get a magnificent old egg timer or a sundial. I think this is SO important at the moment. It feels like time doesn't exist in lockdown and it's easy to spend two hours staring at your laptop willing yourself to do something and making zero progress. If you have 2 hours, something will take 2 hours, if you have 20 minutes it will take 20 minutes. Deadlines, love 'em.



10. Finally


Know that you'll feel better for having achieved something, even if it's really small. 1% is better than 0%. Try to not beat yourself up. Reflect instead on the things that you HAVE achieved rather than the ones that you haven't. If you feel bad all the time you're less likely to want to do anything.



Good luck! And remember. If your pants are in rainbow order but you're telling yourself you don't have time to dilate.. then.. yeah. Dilate!



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