It was easy for Thomas Jefferson to say, “Never put off ‘till tomorrow what you can do today" because he had a staff of accomplished servants. He could invent, write and entertain while others washed and ironed his clothes, made his dinner, cleaned his house and tended his estate.
At least that’s the excuse I tell myself when my To Do List screams at me to have something crossed off. Procrastination was supposed to go away when I left college and outgrew all-night study fests, but he has appeared in various forms for decades.
As a Type A person, I know there’s nothing better than the feeling of crossing the last item off my To Do List. If it weren’t for procrastination, I would be elated all the time. He not only keeps me from my goals, he nags like a dripping faucet. He tells me there is always…
Procrastination tells us what our brain hasn’t quite grasped and our friends and family don’t dare say, to our face, anyway.
WHAT PROCRASTINATION TELLS US:
1. You don’t like what you’re doing.
There are things we HAVE to do. Make the job more pleasant. I’m not fond of cleaning the toilet, so I put cleaning wipes, toilet bowl cleaner, paper towels and a toilet bowl brush in every bathroom. Quick, easy, almost painless.
There are things we volunteered to do that we shouldn’t have. That’s what nice people do, they say “yes” too often. Say “no.” Practice with me. “No.” See, that wasn’t hard. We budget our money, but squander our time and talents. Guard all these treasures equally.
2. You’re not skilled enough to do the task well.
Either carve out time to learn the skills, or ask for help. I have found that volunteering to babysit for young moms gives me a variety of talent at my disposal. Barter or get better.
3. You’re crippled by fear.
Fear of failure and fear of success have the same end result.
What motivates you to accomplish goals? Consider dangling your own carrot and/or finding someone to cheer you on. Share your goals with someone who would appreciate them.
4. You didn’t manage your time successfully.
A project that demands more time will be put off until there is a time slot for the entire project.
Only a horse eats an apple all in one bite, or is that only in the cartoons? A great help is to break a project into 15-30 minute increments. Use a timer.
5. You didn’t prioritize correctly.
We tend to prioritize according to what we like to do, what’s easiest to do or what is cheapest to do, instead of by project deadline. Write down your goals and projects as short tem and long term. It makes it easier to decide what needs to be conquered next.
6. You haven’t made enough time for creativity.
When we get busy, it’s easy to push aside the things that delight and calm our heart. Sewing, crafting, woodworking, reading, writing, are readily shoved aside to accomplish the necessary life demands. Creativity spurs up ambition. It makes you finish the icky have-to projects faster to do the fun want-to projects.
7. You’re not caring for yourself properly.
Being tired, dehydrated, malnourished and under exercised can make you not want to do anything at all. I freely pass on this advice as I sit at my desk looking at the sunshine through my dirty window, drinking coffee, skipping breakfast and having absolutely no plans to exercise in the near future. But to soothe my conscience I just drank a sip of water. Put your needs first.
8. You’re waiting for inspiration.
Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. We accomplish goals through inspiration or determination. When one isn’t working, summon up the other.
9. You have people that need you constantly.
In our marriage we’ve had 6 kids, a lot of company and many people live with us. Your time is not your own when you serve others. You can prioritize and organize, but a diaper blow-out, a nightmare or a spilled gallon of milk changes everything.
As we age, we may end up caring for our parents or a spouse because of age and/or infirmity. The tasks are combined with the grief of their condition.
People are priority. This is your ministry and your calling for this season. Live through this time in a way that you’ll have no regrets looking back.
10. You’re sidetracked by human emotion or physical pain.
Suffering and grief can stop you in your tracks. In this case, procrastination is the kind friend saying you need to heal. It’s healthy to mark boundaries with your time and commitment. Take time off and explain to others why you’re doing this. People will respect your boundaries, and may even step up to help.
You have gifts, talents and goals to bless the world.
Listen to procrastination and decide if and when you should rest, refuse, reassign or accomplish.
Just don’t put it off until tomorrow. Do it today.