Confession Time. Here is my hidden secret. I am a closet procrastinator. Because, in general, I am a well- organized person and productive I can hide my procrastination. But there are many things/tasks that I put off, delay, or postpone. Of course, I would rather talk about someone else’s struggles than my own. Yet, I think I must examine why I procrastinate and what I can do about it.
Why do I procrastinate? Sometimes I just don’t want to do it. If it was a request from someone else and I had an option, then I should have said NO up front. Saying NO can be difficult because I don’t like to disappoint people. Sometimes I am just uncomfortable with the task. I actually hate making phone calls to ask others to do stuff, or even to make appointments.
Sometimes I am afraid. I am afraid that I will fail or even do a poor job. It is a fear of how others will react or maybe even reject me. Sometimes I delay because I don’t know where to start or I need an idea but don’t have one.
I can even procrastinate at writing, which I love and do all the time. I have written daily in a journal since 1984 but there are days I don’t want to do it. I also write Bible study lessons, communion meditations, sermons, and this blog. I write a lot. Yet I often postpone working on one of these by addressing a smaller or easier assignment.
Some of my children are proficient at procrastination. I can commiserate with them. It is much easier to point out their struggles than to admit my own. I have failed at helping them get a handle on their struggle with procrastination. I have learned that encouragement is more effective than nagging. Nagging shuts down communication and builds up defiance.
The following are some things that help me with procrastination:
- It is okay to just say, “No thanks”.
- A feared outcome is seldom as bad as expected.
- Finishing a task/project feels SO GOOD.
- Provide a reward as incentive for completion.
- Or maybe rewards for steps towards completion (frequently used).
- Make lists for daily, weekly and monthly goals (I love checking them off).
- Prioritize tasks and set deadlines.
- Pressure and stress melt when tasks are completed.
- Just start somewhere. Make some progress. Any progress.
- Tackle the hard tasks first or early in the day to get it over.
- Remember what I have accomplished in the past and that I am capable.
I believe that these can be useful tools for teens and children. If you see procrastination in your children, I hope these tools can sideline a lifestyle of procrastination.
“You never know how courageous you can be until you face your fears.”