I have long been a procrastinator. Are you? My dad always said, “Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow”. I guess I took his funny little statement to heart because I would put everything off until the last possible moment. Telling myself that I work best under pressure. Let’s explore procrastination and see how it fits into our overall wellness.
People who are prone to procrastination tend to procrastinate until it becomes more painful to “not” do something than to do it. It is all about stress and pressure. We may think by avoiding doing something, we can avoid the stress and pressure of it. However, the stress and pressure of not doing it will be come worse by avoiding it and then we will eventually submit and dig in and get it done. When I was young I often quoted Scarlet O’Hara from Gone With The Wind. “I can’t think about that today. I will think about that tomorrow”.
As I have gotten older I have come to realize that not doing things till the last minute does not actually give me any more peace. It actually just gives me, as my daughter would say, “Low key stress”. Instead of avoiding the stress, it just simmers under the surface, causing a little bit of subconscious pressure, until the task is completed. I even feel a little guilty about those things I put off, along with a bit of anxiety that I may miss a deadline or forget about it all together.
Over the past few years I have made a real effort to decrease my procrastination. Here are some of the techniques I have been using:
- Just Do It – When I need to write reports at work I start them and keep adding information to them as I go, so I can turn them in when my site visit is done, rather than having them hanging over my head.
- Use Natural Rhythms – I know morning is my most productive time of the day, so I work to jump out of bed and keep the momentum going. Using times that I know work for me, helps me to check the boxes and get things done.
- Make a List – I love to work from a checklist. I use an orange highlighter to cross off what is done, because orange is the color that makes us feel most productive. Checking things off a list is also a nice visual way to see what you have accomplished.
- Notice How Good It Feels – Notice the big relief you feel when you have everything done and nothing is hanging over your head.
- Rewards! – I like to give myself little rewards. I get to go for a walk if I get XYZ done on my “to do” list.
- Start With The Easy Stuff – Dave Ramsey suggests a debt snowball starting with the smallest debts first so you can feel that first success early and quickly. It is the same with procrastination. Do the easy stuff first so you can feel the success of getting stuff done.
I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I would say I procrastinate 50-60% less than I used too. I definitely feel less stressed in life by getting things done as they arise (at least a little more often).
Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find tasks easy to complete timely, as if by magic.
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