Karma Blockers.

by Lori Dwyer on March 13, 2013 · 12 comments

Philosifry Untitled

Annnnd… this*. I’m never sure if it’s the chicken or the egg that comes first– if I get depressed because I let that procrastination take over, or if that procrastination taking over is a symptom of the beginnings of depression.

But they feed each other. Depression, anxiety and their concubine, apathy; they get together have a big ol’ ménage a trios in my mind and I’m the one left feeling exhausted and spent and seedy.

‘Your inbox will never be empty’, they like to say; and I’m fairly sure that was said back when an inbox was an actual box, as in ‘a tray on your desk’, rather than a folder in your email account. There will always be things to be done on your list of Things To Do. The key to it all is to give yourself a finishing time, a point in the day where you have done enough and can relax…

Which, in theory, is just fine.

My problem is that things seem to linger and stay on my list of Things To Do for longer than is reasonably necessary. I go to bed each night with the Things To Do list written, with the very best of intentions… Only to find the next day slips through my fingers like sand, like silicon; and I’m left repeating the whole process again.

I have a phone call on my list of things to be done that has been there, either transferred from list to list (both digital and papered in notebooks) for almost a year now. Roughly 360 days of saying “I will do that, tomorrow”. Roughly 360 days of beating myself up just slightly.

‘Clean the gross gunky stuff off the top of my kitchen shelves’– that one’s been on the list for eighteen months. Since I moved into this house.

‘Sow new buttons on Chop’s school shirts is currently entering its seventh week of inbox loitering. ‘Make dentist appointment’ is cruising at three weeks.

It’s not as though any of these tasks are particularly important or life changing or ominous. They’re not even difficult. It’s just that even beginning them seems so many kinds of momentous. So I follow the steps of the dance of the chronic procrastinator and write lists, ignore them, rewrite them then ignore them some more.

They begin to feel as though they pile up on my soul as well as my lists, like the constant ebbing pressure of knowing I need to do them is eating big ulcerated holes in my mind.

It’s on those occasions that I’ve found it best to instate Anti Procrastination Day, FlyLady style. And take the veritable, bitching bull by the horns. Stop thinking too much about things and do things instead.

I’ve taken to calling them, in my mind, ‘karma blockers’, those annoying tasks and Must–Be-Done’s. Because it very much feels as though that is exactly what they are– they force up huge blocks in the way of the flow of life. They disrupt energy, negate change. And it’s impossible to invoke a sense of lightness when something makes you feel so heavy.

I like to imagine myself as some kind of video game heroine, doing great big round kicks and Matrix-style slow jumps through the air while I explode the things on my Things To Do list, kicking butt over one thing after another, growing stronger and gaining some kind of reward– life points, maybe, or just general good karma. And I walk around for days afterwards feeling alive, feeling good. Feeling like a mother f*cking adult.

I hate the feeling of things left over, of tasks left behind, gathering dust. The permanence of them annoy me– I can manage to cross a dozen things off my Things To Do list in a day, but none of them will be important. I think the rationale behind that thinking is as simplistic as it seems– I tend to do the easiest tasks first, the ones easy to cross off. I think we all do, maybe.

So the easier things slide off the list, daily, and only the karma–blockers remain.


It’s Anti–procrastination Day here in the TinyTrainHouse today. I have done six million loads of washing and am about to vacuum the goddamn floor.

Like the responsible adult I am.

*I have, evidently, been spending far too much time on Reddit lately. More on that, soon.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Roxanne March 28, 2013 at 8:19 am

Greetings! Very useful advice within this post!
It’s the little changes that make the most important changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!
Roxanne recently posted…RoxanneMy Profile


Sapphyre March 14, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Lori, some people’s lives are simple enough they can make to-do lists, modify them, and get through them.

Your life and my life is not like this.

Schedule a time a week to get things done… I see you already figured this out :)


Whoa, Molly! March 14, 2013 at 9:53 am

But, but… it’s so much easier to procrastinate…

I mean, my inbox is always empty, because I’m not very popular, but my to-do list is always pretty long, and instead of putting it anywhere useful, I keep it in my head. If you know anything about my memory, you will know this is a bad, bad idea.

But getting shit done is awesome for making you feel like a real, proper, full-sized adult. Lord knows, I need that feeling as often as possible.

(…and reddit, I’m intrigued. I’m signed up but haven’t been able to get into it yet. I think I need some persuading…)


Hannah March 14, 2013 at 4:38 am

Whoops, I relied to Chelsea not the post, sorry Chelsea! I’m off to go and find what other internet obstacle course I can win at next…


Andrea G. March 14, 2013 at 1:24 am

Oh my god!! Me too!! I have unpaid bills, a bank account unmanaged, taxes to complete, work stuff to do, a house to clean. (hold on, anxiety attack brewing) And I don’t ask for help, because it’s my own damn fault that the pile is there. Go be an adult, a Carrie Moss, butt kicking, Matrix adult. (the baby inside me cries: I don’t know how)


Martha March 13, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Yes, this is me. Only I rarely write physical lists. Only for groceries, and then forget them at home to my daughters mixed amusement and frustration. My lists are in my head, I think that makes them seem bigger, harder, insurmountable. They go round and around with the depression self talk until I over think myself into just giving up. Oldest item on my list is 6 or 7 years old, and I can count hundreds of dollars that I have lost because I let time slip by in depression/procrastination.

I can gauge my days and mental health according to the dishes. on good days i don’t think about them or have to work myself up in an effort to do them. I just do them. I like those days.


Griff March 13, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Right there with ya on this one Lori…
my list of delayed important stuff is well, longer really…just don’t have the time or inclination to hold that dash button down any longer ;)
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Griff March 13, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Hehehe, silly html tag interpretation…I did write ——————————————————————————this—————————————————————–long————————————————-, with > < those little thingies at each end (other way around…but they are html tags that hide content….(the geek shall now shut up and leave this comment)


S March 13, 2013 at 9:49 pm

in answer to your first paragraph question, I would say (to quote you) it’s “that procrastination taking over is a symptom of the beginnings of depression.” x


hpretty March 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm

The anxiety, low mood, need to control becomes so normal that it becomes impossible to tell what is depression and what is just “you”. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that they can be changed and are not an inherent and fixed part of your personality. The most liberating thing for us anxious types is to let go of the reins for just a second. To stop tryign to control and contain with endless lists. But it’s bloody difficult isn’t it? The anxious, controlling place has become like home to me and anything else makes me profoundly uncomfortable. but maybe we need to be go through uncomfortable to get to the really good stuff……

only just seen the new blog btw – wowser!!



Chelsea March 13, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Lol Lori that is me all over. I think I’m an anal list addict. I love them and hate them both at the same time. Lists everywhere for this and that. I know some people find my lists quite amusing. And well the procrastination is another thing I also understand. But on those days when you accomplish some of those things that have been put off its a great feeling of achievement. Some days just don’t have enough hours, to fit it all in without completely exhausting yourself. So just another thing to get down about. Just don’t think about it too much


Hannah March 14, 2013 at 4:36 am

Definitely not just you and when it takes over or becomes more a way to kick yourself than a sign that there are too many tasks and not enough helpers it’s more likely to be option 2 than 1.

On a particularly bad month, I found this: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html It never ceases to make me smile and nod and just think, okay there is a bigger thing that needs looking at here and it isn’t the pile of washing. One day of being a slave to it helps me avoid five days of self-harm to the soul.

Best joke line about depression ever (via above):
“I had spent my last feeling being disappointed that I couldn’t rent Jumanji.”


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