Sunday, 4 August 2013

Procrastination, anxiety, and rewarding myself without booze

This week I have to finish a paper for a class I'm taking and study for an exam this coming Friday. It's a lot of work, and I'm having trouble being as committed to it as I usually am. I went back to school as a "mature student" (aka older person) a couple of years ago, and I had a relatively easy time meeting deadlines, finishing assignments, reading class readings, studying for exams, etc. I could do whatever it took. My usual method was some combination of scaring myself into submission and bribing myself with wine at the end of the day. And you know, that did kind of work. Yes, I felt like crap a lot, and I did write some exams hungover as hell, but I have done well in my classes and done the work I needed to do. So far.

Now I need some new methods. Without the spikey anxiety I get from booze, I am a lot calmer, but I am used to using that anxiety to fuel a lot of work. Without the prospect of wine to check out at the end of the day, I have found myself procrastinating, not coping all that well with deadline anxiety, not really getting a lot done, and worrying that I suddenly can't get it done after all without my finely honed terror and anxiety system. (Yes, I know, that's just the voice telling me to drink, working in crafty ways. Except I'm not going to drink. And I have to write a paper.)

So far today, I walked in circles around my tiny apartment for a few hours. Then I made a deal with myself: write 2 pages, then have a coffee and two slivers of chocolate. I wrote three, and had a little extra choc with the coffee. (It's 85% chocolate, so not a whole lot of sugar, so I'm staying out of that trap at least.) Then 2 more pages and I was allowed to skip around on some blogs for a while and write a bit here. Yes, sad but true, I am writing as a reward for writing. How's that for circular reasoning?

It's tricky, balancing genuinely having to get things done with trying to go easy on myself in my newfound sobriety. I'm not sure I 'm all that good at it, to be honest. I'm so all or nothing, so for a while I've been all, "Don't worry about school, focus on yourself" yadda yadda. But the school is something I really want to do, so it shouldn't be in opposition to "treating myself well." The irony is, I'm especially interested in motivation, and I'm starting to have some ideas about how that might work. I've used what I'm learning to help me with quitting drinking, and that's fantastic. But I still have to slog through this hard work today, rewarding myself with treats and walks and, hopefully, at the end, a job well done. That will be a much more worthwhile treat from the wine. Only it's a new system, and I'm still figuring it out!

OK, back to it.

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