Adulting, procrastination and freeing up space for creativity

by Suw on February 1, 2023

January was a month of some hardcore adulting. I did a host of things that I’d been putting off: Getting a dental appointment to check that the root canal and synthetic bone graft that I had done in Mexico at the end of December 2021 had healed properly and that the ache in my jaw was indeed, as I suspected, just tension. Renewing my driver’s licence photocard and booking a lesson to get me driving again after a 25 year gap. Getting an appointment with an optician. Seeing my physio.

I might sound like a hypochondriac, but this list of worries and ailments has accumulated over the last few years. It’s all stuff I’ve put off because either I was scared (driving), or because I was in the wrong country (physio), or because last year’s transatlantic move got in the way (everything else). But it’s also all stuff that has lived rent-free in my head for all that time, taking up space and taking focus away from other, more important things.

I once read that the point at which you overcome procrastination is the point at which the pain of not doing something becomes worse than the pain of doing it. The stress of not getting these health issues checked out has been eroding my energy levels for months. I’d wake in the middle of the night worrying about them, despite knowing intellectually that they were likely all benign and solvable problems.

The knock-on effect of that was not just disrupted sleep. It took up time I could have spent doing more constructive things and it literally wasted my energy. Thinking burns calories – the brain takes up about 20 percent of your daily energy usage – so every thing I worried about was draining my batteries. More to the point, absolutely none of these chores were as big of a deal as I had built them up to be and most were sorted quickly and painlessly. All of that worry was for nothing.

Now, I know this sounds like a very longwinded way of saying ‘Clear your head’, but we’re not talking here about clearing your head the way that you might half-arsedly clear a table. You’re not putting things on the kitchen countertop and ignoring them, you actually have to do the washing up.

I’ve had this sporadic dull ache in my jaw for three years and, despite several X-rays and a CT scan, I’d still managed to build it up in my head into something it wasn’t. Stress will do that. Getting it looked at again wasn’t so much about a medical diagnosis, but more about getting the worry out of my head, hopefully permanently this time.

Clearing your head means being honest with yourself about the things that are worrying you, (even if those things seem small or silly or irrational), gathering the strength to address them, and then putting them behind you. It’s about recognising the pain of not doing something and then getting it done, sooner rather than later.

Obviously some stressors are not easily dealt with. If you’re short of money, for example, or stuck in an awful situation, you can’t just fix that with a bit of willpower and a spare half hour. But you can start taking steps: See a debt counsellor, make a plan, or even just outline the issue. Actively addressing a problem can help you feel more in control, and that helps clear your head.

Clearing your head is important because it literally makes room in you brain for other, more creative thoughts. It really is that simple.

I have so many ideas when I’m lying in bed or walking into town or in the shower. Ideas don’t generally come when I sit down to write, they need time and space to incubate before then. But they won’t get the opportunity to sprout and grow if my brain is constantly ruminating about my achy jaw or getting the cats’ yearly vaccinations booked.

Life admin sucks, no doubt about it. But keeping on top of it and clearing those worries out of your head is essential if you want to have a consistently creative life.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: