I think the car roof racks need dusting today.

Then I need to go to the library to collect those holds before they put them back on the shelf, and I should go now, while I’ve got the time.

The dishes need doing, and I really love doing dishes – not! So I’ll do the dishes and clean the stovetop too. The sink will be shining and benches cleared, with the kitchen looking good.  Well I guess that’s a good thing, although not really life-threatening if they don’t get done immediately.

Or – I can’t work when my workspace is messy / dirty / untidy etc.

I’m not sure why I continually do this, as it doesn’t make for a very peaceful existence. Maybe it’s my default mode!  Avoidance. If I just did what I had to do, get it over and done with, then I could get on with other things – like reading a book or doing the housework instead of pretending I am doing it for a really good reason.

But in reality it’s procrastination. I have discovered I am a master at it, especially when I have a deadline or something important that needs to be done.  I can keep myself really busy doing – whatever.  I think I’ve even got a degree in it – but I’ll look for that paper later.

Surely I’m not the only one in the room who does these kinds of things?

From my observation of people, there are a few others who do a similar thing. Making time to do the unimportant things, tasks that could wait until later is some form of coping mechanism. By doing all the unnecessary things, then I can justify why I haven’t done the important task. I was so busy doing x, y and z, that I just haven’t gotten around to it!

For me, it’s a way of distracting myself from facing reality. Keeping busy can be a way of coping with life, especially when it’s a difficult time. After my daughter Kelly died, I often found myself keeping ‘busy’ in order not to think too much. But I’d focus on all the irrelevant and unimportant things, and miss doing the priority ones. Then I’d beat myself up for not doing it ‘right’ and the whole cycle would start again.   I’d make myself so tired that I’d flop into bed and sleep – for a while – and then I’d wake and start thinking. The more I dwelled on the problem, then the less I slept until it became a vicious cycle.

Perhaps it’s really fear – fear of making a mistake, or not looking good, which is very closely related to perfectionism.

However lately I’ve discovered that when I do what has to be done promptly, I can enjoy myself more and even have better sleep. So I’m gradually learning to manage my ‘Busywork’ although I still slip back into that mode quite frequently, but I’m learning to recognize it a lot sooner.