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.
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
a 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.
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