Procrastination: Innocent or Guilty as Charged?

Uncategorized Sep 16, 2020

I am not a felony procrastinator, but I do practice misdemeanor procrastination. 

My rap sheet is a mile long for minor infractions on tasks that I know I should do but feel hard or uncomfortable, or tasks that are just unpleasant. Because I keep putting it off, the task starts to grow in my mind, getting bigger and harder and more unpleasant. As a result, I avoid it even more.   

I even have a category in my task manager titled Eventually. I don't want to forget about these things, but I still haven't committed to doing them.

These open loops, as Jack Canfield calls them, suck up time and energy because you're thinking about them all the time!

Take my kitchen buffet for instance.

It's right inside the most-used door to the house.  The top catches all the things we have in our hands when we walk through the door.  The two cupboards and four drawers have become the place to put school supplies, power cords, cables, dog stuff, misc. stuff, place mats, and small electronics (think old phones and tablets) and their associated boxes.

It's a nightmare that has me frustrated and annoyed whenever I have to go in there for a cable (it's a rat's nest...sigh...).

And for months now (the six of Stay At Home especially) I lived with the irritation because, in my mind, the thought of actually cleaning it all out and getting it organized felt so huge and unpleasant and overwhelming. 

Then one morning, in a burst of determination, I decided it was time to tackle the buffet monster head-on.  Before I could talk myself out of it, I started clearing the cupboards, taking everything out so that I could sort it, make a plan, and take back control. 

And wouldn't you know it?

The whole project took me less than 2 hours!

The task that I had completely blown up in my mind to be this horrible, endless, take-an-entire-day chore wasn't really that bad at all. For months I put up with the chaos and irritation, when it could have been alleviated in less than the time it takes to watch an episode of America's Got Talent (Love me those judges - Heidi, Howie, Simon, and Sophia!)

So why am I sharing this?

Sometimes we all need a reminder that the task you've been putting off might not actually be as bad as you think it's going to be.

Normally I do have a simple process for tackling those things I really don't want to do.  Just in case you are experiencing a case of procrastinitis, the following steps might help:

1. Set a deadline

It's fairly natural for people to put things off until the last minute. I noticed that my biggest procrastination comes with tasks on that Eventually list of mine.  Those things I know should be done sometime in the future, just not right now. They are important but not urgent.

To get those things done, I suggest you create the sense of urgency by setting a hard and fast deadline.  Put it on the calendar in red letters, or tell someone else it will be done by that time. Ask them to hold you accountable. 

2. Schedule the time

Once that hard and fast deadline is set, the next step is setting time aside in your schedule to work on that task.  Figure out how long you think it will take, then make an appointment with yourself to get it done.  Put it on the calendar so others don't try to schedule a meeting with you at that time.  Trust me, I don't need a very good reason to NOT do a dreaded task, so don't make it easy for others to give you any reason at all!

3. Strip away distractions

In this work-from-home and school-from-home environment, distractions are HARD to eliminate.  Do the best you can.  Turn off your phone and emails (or the entire internet if you have to!).  Have the kids watch a movie or have silent reading time.  Go to a quiet place to work.  Find a way to give yourself the gift of focus, just to get this ONE thing done.

4. Set a timer

Tell yourself that you ONLY have to do this icky thing for the next hour (or whatever time you established).   You can do anything for an hour, right?  Set the timer and get to work.  Even try a backwards counting timer and tell the kids they can't interrupt until the timer says 00:00. You will be surprised at what you are able to get done!

In summary, I present this quote from over 1600 years ago:

God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.

St. Augustine

 In other words? Whatever it is, stop putting it off!

My challenge to you is to tackle one task this week that you've been avoiding. Chances are you know exactly what it is and it's time to give it the heave-ho.

I'd love to hear how it goes, so hop on over to the Coryne Forest LLC Facebook page and tell me in the comments.  

Leaving you with this from the lighter side: Today's List of Things To Do - 1. Finish yesterday's list...

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