“One of the greatest labor-saving inventions of today is tomorrow.”
— Vincent T. Foss
There are tons of jokes about procrastination, and for good reason: it’s such a common human frailty. We’ve all heard from our teachers and mentors how important it is not to procrastinate.
Start your work early.
When you see what to do, just do it!!
Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Okay! Okay! You say. (And I do too).
So I have that tendency. What’s the big deal?
Well, if you and I want to live our lives with a low level “spinning our wheels” mentality, then it really isn’t such a big deal.
We can just put things off. Make sure that we pay our bills on time so nothing will get turned off or reclaimed. The rest is okay.
Of course, since nothing ever stays the same, there will be a steady decline in the things we are avoiding. If it’s healthy eating or exercise, the pounds will slide up – along with blood pressure.
If we are avoiding tackling those job skills which would bring some increase, then we will notice a downward trend.
If we put off getting with our friends and family, our relationships will suffer.
But it’s our life and it’s our choice.
Now when I think about procrastination in those terms, I realize that I do want to improve in that area. I just have this one life, and I want to live it to the absolute fullest.
So let’s do some digging…
Why Do we Procrastinate?
Confusion and Overwhelm
The number one reason is Confusion. Or overwhelm. We aren’t sure what to do, so we do nothing.
There are so many choices for diets – or business models – or ways to budget, we put off making a decision. How do we know which one is the right one?
My answer for this is to set aside some time and determine to make a decision. You may want to read some articles or books by people who are knowledgeable. Also you want to do some soul searching.
Think hard about what you really desire. What are your skills and how do they match your desires? What other commitments do you have – to family, church, etc? How do these commitments affect your decision?
Then it’s decision time. Make a decision and stick to it. Commit to yourself that you are going to hold firm to this commitment for maybe six months. You might make some adjustments, but don’t throw it out completely during that time.
For the next six months, block off chunks of the big commitment, and work through those.
Each step will bring you closer to your goal.
The second reason is perfectionism.
I really hate to be the one to break this news to you, but you are not perfect. That’s the bad news. The good news is that neither is anyone else. So you are not alone.
This is something which I have had to battle. When I am making plans and carrying them out, they never seem to be the perfect plans I envisioned.
My website isn’t perfect. Neither is my writing. Or my graphics. Or my email schedule.
So as I am busily trying to perfect these things, I notice someone to my left who is skidding past me as if they were on an electric sidewalk. And they aren’t perfect either!
As I began to take notice, I realized that the important thing was to start. If we will make a decision on our plans and then begin, we can make adjustments and corrections along the way.
There will be times when we will throw out the whole plan and redirect. But not right away. Give it six months.
The third reason is dread
Dread of what? Dread of failure…Maybe it’s too hard.
Dread of doing something you don’t enjoy.
Dread of possibly looking foolish.
List the things which you delay on a routine basis. Often those are the very things which are not comfortable.
Starting that eating plan. Cleaning out a closet. Going to the Doctor. Writing that email.
So How Do We Slay this Beast?
Well, just like anything else, your success starts with a decision.
- Decide that you won’t allow procrastination to stand in the way of you and success. You are going to subdue this beast.
- Then make a list of the things which you have delayed. Analyze why you avoid those particular actions. Was it Overwhelm? Confusion? Perfectionism? Dread?
- Whatever the cause, determine that you are going to face the giant. It might not be perfect, but that’s O.K. Remember: an item marked “Done,” is better than an item marked “in process-becoming perfect.”
- Put a big sign on your bulletin board that says, “No More Delay.”
- Then go down your list, checking off the items.
Oh, that feels good. Doesn’t it?
No more delay.
Let’s get started!