Avoiding the Task

So often, I find myself avoiding tasks I don’t want to do. Most often, this is dealing with emails. Sometimes it’s writing a story or doing the dishes. Whatever it is, I can find lots of excuses not to do it.

It’s so easy to be busy. I own more books than I could read, and I have enough art supplies to keep me busy for months. On the internet, there is an endless supply of interesting articles to read and instructional videos to watch.

And yet, there are things that really should be done first. If I don’t assign different levels of importance to the items in my to do list, there are things that won’t get done at all. Setting deadlines for important tasks helps too.

Once, when I was struggling with feeling anxious and overwhelmed, I went more than a week without checking my email or phone messages. I felt like I just couldn’t deal with it, and felt like I deserved a break from the things that were stressing me out. It seemed harmless.

When I finally checked my messages and emails, I found out that a close friend had been trying to contact me. Her father had a stroke, and she needed my help. I called her right away, but she didn’t need me any more.

I still feel guilty about that.

I learned that even though I don’t want to do something, that doesn’t mean that I can completely abandon the task. At least not for that long. And I can’t ignore both my phone messages and my emails at the same time. Ever.

There are compromises and work-arounds. Often I can talk my husband into listening to the phone messages. I can skim over the subject lines of the emails so that I can make a note of what I need to read later.

And what if I’m avoiding doing creative work? The consequences for avoiding that seem less severe. It’s not like I’ll miss an important message or have a mountain of dirty clothes or dishes to face later.

However, there are consequences. Not only would I get out of practice, I would be missing out on the mental and health benefits that come from doing art. And I would miss it terribly. As a result, I try to keep creative work as one of the more important things on my schedule.

So, when I find myself avoiding writing or drawing or painting, I do my best to find a work-around or compromise. I tell myself that it doesn’t have to be very good, it just has to get done. I tell myself I only need to finish part of it or it can be smaller or shorter than I originally planned. Bribing myself works too. It is continuing the journey that matters most to me right now, not trying to make the work I do perfect.

Do you sometimes find yourself avoiding creative work? What do you do to keep going? What is one thing that you refuse to skip?