I can remember as a little girl hearing the phrase: "Wait broke the wagon." Reflecting on that, I could think of no more of a fitting title for today's blog article. Procrastination is something we all are familiar with in one way or the other. Either we are the one procrastinating or the one complaining about the procrastination of someone else. What is procrastination? Why do we do it? How do we overcome it?
According to dictionary.com, procrastination is the act or habit of procrastinating or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention. Whether it is procrastinating with paying a bill, completing Christmas shopping, completing household chores, or completing the year end work project, or getting taxes filed, it isn't hard to catch the procrastination bug.
The simple answer many give to why we procrastinate is that the person is "just being lazy" or the person is "lacks motivation." A quick Facebook search yielded varying opinions on procrastination.
"Procrastination is the arrogant assumption that God owes you another opportunity to do what you already had time to do!"
"Go make the moves you need to make today. Make this day, a TAKE ACTION DAY!!! #LetsEat" ~Jay Johnson
"The best way to kill PROCRASTINATION is to get off ya ass & get STARTED." ~Lamottis Woods
"Procrastination is the #1 enemy of success! Get up, get started and make it happen!" ~Blanks Galore Academy
"Lord, remove any laziness or procrastination from my mind and body. Push me to my full potential! #Amen ~Spiritual Inspiration
"Procrastination is a form of insecurity. Procrastination is rooted in the fear of failure or dare I say, the fear of success." ~Katiana Carre'
"Procrastination is not laziness, it is a coping mechanism." ~Jamesia Johnai
To sum up the posts above, procrastination is a combination of poor time management and problem solving with perfectionism and performance anxiety. Another way to view it, procrastination is a kind of motivation paralysis in which we sit staring out the window, waiting for motivation to show up and yet she never does. Because we never get motivated, we allow ourselves to get further and further behind in our ever-growing to-do lists and goals. The wagon of opportunity breaks down. No matter how we slice it, procrastination causes us to behave in ways that are not in our self-interest. So how to combat it?
1. Stop worrying. If we are honest with ourselves, we probably spend more time worrying about chores and projects that we do not want to do than we actually spend doing them. Find a self-care, self-calming exercise or ritual and do it. Once relaxed, break down the task by realistically measuring how much time it will take us to complete the task.
2. Start small. Motivation does not come first; action does. When we procrastinate, we often confuse motivation and action. We wait until we feel "in the mood" to do something. But, because we don't feel like doing it, we put it off. Action must come first. Break down the task at hand in smaller steps and actually start.
3. Confront any distortions. Cognitive distortions are errors in our thinking. It is the ways our minds convince us of things that aren't necessarily true. One such cognitive distortion is emotional reasoning in which we use our emotions as evidence for the truth. If we feel overwhelmed and hopeless, we may begin to believe our problems must be impossible to solve and we don't even try. If we are telling ourselves things such as: "I'll fail so why even try?" or "I must do it perfectly," or "What if I succeed? They'll expect even more out of me and I'm not ready for that." Confront these thoughts or fears head on.
4. Take responsibility. If we are delayed, own up to this. We often complain about not having enough hours to get everything done. However, we are the one responsible for managing our most precious asset, time. Make a list of the procrastination and escape activities and the length of time it took away from what we are supposed to have done.
5. Reward yourself. As adults, we sometimes forget the gold stars we used to receive when we were in grade school-thinking such things are too childish. However, often times, reconnecting with the simpler things in life is just the ticket to get us along on a more productive pathway. Gold stars are given to children because the work. They are tangible acknowledgement that the child completed an unpleasant task when they could have been doing something much more fun. Just because we have gotten older doesn't mean that we have outgrown that innate desire for acknowledgement. Even if no one else does it for you, do it for yourself; find a way to reward yourself for persevering and completing hard tasks.
Managing our time and avoiding procrastination requires that we set immediate priorities and stick to them. It requires we check in with ourselves and our internal feelings and thought processes to aid us in eliminating broken down wagons of opportunities lost.
I hope you find the above listed tips helpful in avoiding procrastination. Now please know, the first step in changing any behavior is to first be aware of what is occurring. Once aware, be determined to exercise grace with yourself. Changing any habitual behavior like procrastination is difficult and it will take time, patience, and practice. So please remember, wherever you are on this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.
P.S.-Speaking of procrastination, Christmas is in 14 days.
"Wellbeing is attained by little and little, and nevertheless is no little thing." ~Zeno
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