Miguel David |||

Chores

As far back as I can remember I always attacked chores first and let the fun stuff for later.

That way I could get the bad stuff out of the way and then enjoy as much of the good things as I wanted until I ran out of time. This sounded (sounds?) as a good strategy, and delayed gratification was studied in the Marshmallow Experiment as a good signal for future success. The main idea behind it is that if the individual has enough willpower to abstain from an easy way out right now to get a bigger reward later on, she is also able to refrain from temptations that will give you a buzz now but a headache later.

The problem here is that I’m slow. Well, my therapist does not like it when I used that expression, let’s say, I’m thorough. Very thorough in fact. If you are into Computer Science, I always do breadth-first instead of depth-first. The result of that is that I ended and end up doing all the chores to an extreme degree and when I’m done with them (if I finish them in useful time), I don’t have any time left to enjoy the good stuff. You can see the issue here, right? My obedience side says Do all your chores now. You do not qualify to enjoy things until you get them done”. And my rebel side says For what? We won’t be able to play at all like this.”.

I still suffer from my the same problem at 38. I am diligent in doing chores (there is a procrastination problem with hard things, but that’s another story), but not kind to myself in enjoying the fruits of my labour. When I do decide to enjoy, I feel guilty. You know, the way you feel guilty in University when you are going out knowing you should be studying.

That sense of guilt dramatically reduced with my first two jobs, there was a clear work time/play time separation, on-call shifts and teams around the globe to rotate issues to. I felt that I worked during the day and could relax in the evenings and on weekends.

Then it got considerably worse when I decided to go freelance. Now the pressure was not just I won’t get a good grade”, but more I’m not making money while I’m not working”. The weekends and holidays became guilt-ridden, and even though I adore the flexibility that I have with work/life balance, I think I never suffered so much with the effects that it causes on me. It forces me to continually tell myself that taking the morning off to take my wife to the doctor and be in the house when the painters get here is also part of life even though work is calling for me to do specific tasks (multiple customers in fact).

It’s a hard internal battle, to be disciplined to work at certain times and NOT to work at other times, independently of the urgency of the tasks.

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