Procrastination


Procrastination the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the "last minute" before the deadline.

Who procrastinates?

Be truthful?

Procrastination is deliberately (wilfully) delaying what we ought to be doing for what ever reason, often due to laziness.  It is putting off work that should be done today, until tomorrow, or the next or the next. 


Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)

I was one of those students at school who did my homework at the last minute, except for the title page and drawings, as that was fun and often (at primary school) involved coloured pencils and being creative. I put off what was hard for as long as possible. This, of course, made life much more stressful as I had to rush the most difficult part at the last minute.  I continued down this path well into adulthood - but in the end, we cannot put off the inevitable so one needs to learn strategies to avoiding procrastination. 

Why do we procrastinate? The reasons are many and varied:
  • To avoid an unpleasant task (e.g. cleaning the bathroom)
  • Avoiding an overwhelming or complex project
  • Afraid or fearful (avoiding a unpleasant phone call)
  • Fear of failure
  • or just plain laziness - finishing off a book is far more enjoyable/exciting than cleaning one's house (and the Bible has plenty to say about being lazy, slothful, slack).

Instead of getting on with the task or project, many women will do everything else to avoid starting - and that might include, reading another chapter of a favourite book, chatting with the neighbour, spending far longer than necessary on the computer or phone, watching TV, or doing a favourite hobby . . . they are very good at coming up with excuses why they can't start. 

We all need to keep our homes clean and tidy, we all need to buy food and cook meals for the family, we need to wash and iron the clothes, do the finances, care for our children and our husbands and some of us work outside the home etc... We can not avoid doing these tasks no matter how much we delay them. In fact, the longer we delay, the bigger the buildup up of chores and that doesn't create a pretty sight - leading to  stress and the feeling of being out of control. None of us have maids to do these jobs we need to stop wasting precious time and get one with them!  We need:

SELF-DISCIPLINE and SELF CONTROL
the RIGHT attitude
JOYFUL heart
and ultimately remember who we are serving . . . the LORD (and He doesn't like laziness).

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. (Colossinas 3:23)

So what should we do if procrastination is a problem:

  • Grab a cup of tea, a note pad and sit somewhere comfort.
  • Start by praying, asking God for guidances and wisdom. 
  • Then look at all the tasks you have and prioritise them. . . what is important and what is not as important, what needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or ad hoc. 
  • Tick those jobs you enjoy doing.
  • Divide the tasks into manageable parts so they no longer look overwhelming - for example, you don't need to dust the entire house at once - perhaps do the living room on one day and the remaining house on another.  Or get your children involved.
  • Draw up a schedule for each day of the week (perhaps on a large sheet of paper, magnet board or cork board) and start allocating tasks to days of the week: e.g. washing on Monday mornings and ironing in the afternoon, clean the bathroom on Tuesdays, shopping on Fridays. When creating your schedule, don't forget to mix the not so nice jobs along with the fun jobs as it will give you variation and help with procrastination. Some women turn these into elaborate binders (like this one) - do what suits you, I'm not a binder sort of gal!
  • If your find your schedule is too full - look at what you can stop - weight up the pros and cons of dropping an activity and make a wise decide. And don't toss out all the nasty jobs and keep the enjoyable ones. 
  • Don't forget to add bible study into your schedule. 
  • Don't fill your schedule completely - remember, life is full of the unexpected, every schedule needs to be flexible to cater for the unexpected, so don't panic if the ironing isn't finished because you had an emergency. It isn't about how much you do, its about how you spend your time.
  • Always built in time for pleasure - reading, a quiet afternoon, visit friends/family, sewing, going for a walk, just sitting in the sun. Your day should not be filled with  only work, it is important to also do enjoyable activities. Taking care yourself is just as important as taking care of the family and home.
  • A good nights sleep is important, whilst it doesn't need to be scheduled (!), make sure your work doesn't go too late into the evening. In fact, try and keep your evenings free - time for your family. 

If this is really difficult, I would suggest you find someone to help, such as a Titus 2 woman to help as it isn't easy for everyone and not everyone is born with strong organisational skills.  Two heads are far better than one.  There are also a number of great Christian books on the market that are very helpful, including Elizabeth George's "Life Management for Busy Women" and "The Christian Homemakers Handbook". Others I am sure can recommend useful books. 

If you do have to undertake an unpleasant task, get it done first thing in the morning . . . the longer you wait, the more stressful you become and you are more likely to find ways of putting it off. If it was a very difficult or arduous, reward yourself once completed e.g.  30 mins in the sunshine with a book or perhaps morning tea. Having something to look forward to, does make an unpleasant task much easier to do. 

Finally, it you have children, it is very important to teach them from an early age to not procrastinate, it is skill that they will be very thankful for later in life. 

Use your time wisely, don't waste it. We need to live as if each minute counts, as they do.

Putting an end to procrastination is important and biblical.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

Paintings by Deborah De Witt

*****

Comments

  1. Great advice, I find I do the hardest tasks first and then more pleasing tasks. It works for me.

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    1. So do I, I cleaned the bathroom first thing on the weekend to get it out of the way - its the one job I really don't enjoy doing :)

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  2. Such good advice. Which reminds me . . . I need to get off my laptop and start dinner!

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    1. lol!! My dinner is currently cooking so I have a few moments to catch up on comments and emails!!! then back to the kitchen. I often set the timer so I know how long I have and it prevents things from burning !!!

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  3. This is something I am all too aware of. One thing which helps me is to turn on the computer as late in the day as possible =) Then I can't waste time there... But I like to get the hard work done each day first of all, so that then I can put my feet up in the evening when it is quiet... So, I guess I am doing OK, but naturally there is always room for improvement =)
    Great reading =)
    love,
    Bets

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    1. If you are fully aware you are doing it you can do something about it, it is those that pretend it isn't happening, ignore the problem or have no idea how much time they waste that have the real problem. At least you are being proactive and that is always good.

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  4. This is so important. I'm sure each of us procrastinates over something, even if it's not a lot of procrastinating. I'm not much of a procrastinator - I prefer to get moving and get the unpleasant tasks out the way so I can have time to do the things I enjoy - and this is the way I'm raising my children! Unfortunately, I married a procrastinator (big-time!), and I find this VERY frustrating - although it has highlighted to me the importance of teaching my children NOT to procrastinate... And, I'm very thankful to say that my DH has identified his need to stop procrastinating, and we're trying to work on it together. :)
    One thing I am tempted to procrastinate on is school reporting for the Board of Home Education. This is something that does take time and I do not enjoy it!! In fact, I dread it each year. But this year, rather than procrastinate on the planning and reporting, I decided to start about 4 months in advance and this way I've been able to work on it slowly, doing a little bit at a time, instead of leaving it to the last minute and having to give up all my spare time to do it in a big stressful ugly rush!! This planning and getting ahead on it is actually making it less dreadful, too. Yay!! :) So that is something else I would point out in conjunction to the excellent advice you've written in this post - getting AHEAD and planning well can make the tasks we are tempted to procrastinate over much more enjoyable or at least tolerable. :)

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    1. Doing the tax return is something I attempt to avoid until but this year I did it as soon as possible and it was a really nice feeling to get it out of the way. You are right, once done, you can move onto the more enjoyable activities. But I think breaking jobs down into small pieces does make it more manageable and less daunting. And that can include everything from dusting to gardening. Finding someone to help can also make it more enjoyable. Many jobs we can look at differently can make all the differences!!!

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    2. I'm that way about tax returns too - I do them as soon as possible so they're out the way and you don't have to think about them or have them hanging over your head!!

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    3. Actually, I'm often surprised at people who procrastinate over things they don't enjoy doing (including myself the times I've done it) - if you don't like the job, why have it hanging around for longer and longer? It just makes it worse and worse - a bit like it becoming a mountain the more you have it hanging over your head and at the back of your mind, rather than the molehill it began out as! It's a lot wiser to get it out the way without thinking about it for ages first!

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    4. When I was a child and I didn't like Brussels sprouts - it was better to eat them first and quickly and then you had the time to enjoy everything else on the plate!!! Work is just the same :)

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  5. I have been a procrastinator and am still somewhat at times. I am very grateful for the improvement! It's nothing more or less than the fruit of the Spirit in my life.

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    1. Its something that some have to keep working on otherwise it is easy to slip back into old habits - but practice does change behaviour :)

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  6. Good advice! It's so easy to fall back into the habit of procrastinating. I know that when I need to crack down on myself the timer is my best friend. Do something that has to be done for 15 minutes. Then do something fun for 15. Back and forth all day and lots gets done!

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    1. I timer is excellent, especially one that goes on and on and on and gets very annoying!!! I think its a good idea to mix up a day with the fun and not so fun!! Keeps life interesting.

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  7. Jo, thank you for this reminder. There is always an unpleasant task that we tend to put to the back burner and I hope to implement some of your ideas. I find that lists are very helpful. I often do the "yucky" chore first and reward myself with the fun activity like working on a hobby, etc., after.. Thanks for linking up with us this week :)

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  8. Thanks for posting. I am a recovering procrastinator. Funny, when I finally tackle something that I just didn't want to do, something simple, like the dishes, I'll say, "Gee, that only took 5 minutes and I spent hours complaining about it." Time waster! But we never seem to learn. Great tips (popping over from Essential Fridays)

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    1. I love the term "recovering procrastinator" , I think most of us!! I am a little OCD and therefore can't leave dirty dishes on the sink, however that can have its own issues too!!

      Thanks so much for visiting.

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  9. I'm stopping by from Essentials Fridays! This post hits home to me because I am a procrastination queen but am praying for balance. Procrastination in my life causes a ton of problems, ranging from stress, to no clean clothes, to a house that I can't relax in because it is messy. Thanks for the great tips. I am a new follower and would be honored if you would share your heart at the Saturday Soiree Blog Party! http://faithalongtheway.com

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    1. You are so right- the more you procrastinate the worse it becomes until its out of control and its all a big mess. I would suggest you tackle it bit by bit, Roman wasn't built in a day and now will these problems!!!

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  10. I always have great plans to do this - drawn up schedules that work for a while and then it all goes horribly wrong and I'm all over the place again. Maybe I'm just wired for chaos and distractions. Some really great tips in here, thanks :)

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  11. Love your description of Tomorrow and Procrastination. ...and a beautiful set of pictures /paintings
    Alexa Blogging from Sydney, Australia

    http://www.Alexa-asimplelife.com

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