Friday, February 14, 2014

ADHD Musings: The Thing About Deadlines

One of the things I have long realized about myself is that I work best "to deadlines."

To explain that a bit further, what I am really saying here is that if there is not a "looming deadline," odds are that I will not get anything done, at all.

Take this week, for example. I know that I wanted to get a large number of new auctions listed on eBay by this coming Sunday, as part of giving my rare stamp business a boost. Now, creating 150-odd listings on eBay is pretty time consuming... especially with merchandise like rare old postage stamps: They have to be "selected," then "scanned," then the images have to be "formatted and color corrected," then the description for each has to be individually written and uploaded to the staging area. All in all, it's a LOT of work.

So I say to myself-- probably two weeks ahead of the "launch date"-- that if I just get a little bit done every day, then the whole thing won't creep up on me and be a giant stressful mess at the very end. Because "giant stressful mess at the the very end" is how I tend to work.

And so, here we are, on Friday, with three days remaining before I had planned to get these sales made public. And where am I?

Even though I know that getting this done is essential... and that being able to pay our bills this month depends on these sales... I really have not been able to motivate myself to do much work on getting the auctions ready. Sure, I have sat down to "get started" a number of times, and I have "dabbled a little," but in about 75% of my available work time, I have managed to get about (maybe!) 10% of the overall workload taken care of.

This has been a pervasive pattern in all aspects of my life, since being a teenager who never could "get around to" homework until an hour before it was due. Of course, I have always been able to "excuse myself" by stating (quite truthfully, I might add) that "I am brilliant under pressure," and I always DO tend to get these things done. But not without a horrible last-minute "death march" to get there. And 90% of the time? The results are usually stellar... better than most people's, even if they worked tirelessly on the same thing for three weeks.

Maybe this doesn't have anything to do with being ADHD, at all. Maybe it's about "work styles." That is not really clear to me. "Distraction" definitely plays into the mix... distractions seem so much more appealing, when there is plenty of time. Unless I feel the Sword of Damocles hanging over my head, I am not given to "doing what must be done." Character flaw? Work habits? Inherent laziness? Aspects of ADHD?

And it's not that I am not aware of the "passing of time." In fact, I regularly "count down" how much time I have left, to do the remaining work... I know exactly how many days and hours remain. But unless there is "severe pressure to perform" being brought to bear, I don't feel inclined to move.

This is not a good thing... as I have recently been diagnosed with severe hypertension, and I am becoming more aware of things I do that are constitute underlying stress patterns. These "last minute rushes" to do the essential things of life are extremely stressful.

Somehow, I need to overcome my habits... and reduce stress. So here I am, writing a blog post instead of working on my eBay stuff. Because I still have "plenty of time."

Ironic, no?

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