Oh, procrastination. That time honored tradition of avoidance known to college students, Christmas Eve shoppers, and reluctant mowers of the lawn everywhere. What is it about putting off chores and responsibilities that seems so attractive? It should be counter-intuitive, right? I mean, if you get it done, it’s done, and then not only can you relax, you can relax with a free conscience. Yet here we sit – every last one of us – 30 minutes to a deadline, stressed to the gills with nothing to show for it.
Something about avoiding tasks until the last minute gives us a false sense of power and control over a situation, when in reality, we are making it all the more chaotic by waiting. There is no getting past it: procrastination is a bad habit, but it’s a habit you can overcome. Before you begin feeling down on yourself, remember that some of the greatest thinkers and writers struggled with these same issues. Let’s take a look at what they had to say on the matter.
“If you believe you can accomplish everything by “cramming” at the eleventh hour, by all means, don’t lift a finger now. But you may think twice about beginning to build your ark once it has already started raining.” – Max Brooks
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb
Sometimes, we avoid taking risks because we lack confidence in ourselves. We may know that we have the capability to accomplish tasks and reach goals, but we are afraid of failure. Perhaps there is a promotion available at work, and even though you know, logically, that you are qualified you have not taken any steps to apply for the position. That person you have had a crush on for three months now? There is a reason you have not asked them out, and it’s because you are unable to take charge of the situation. These feelings of inadequacy are common, but still destructive to your potential.
Self confidence is a learned skill, just like sewing, public speaking or baking a cake. Learning how to think positively, to visualize your goals, and to plan out how to achieve them can help you sidestep procrastination, and become a go getter. Your goals are right there in front of you. You just have to take that first leap of faith.
“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” – Rita Mae Brown
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln
“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.” – Bill Watterson
“Do, or do not do. There is no try.” – Yoda
When you are assigned a project, either at school or at work, that project becomes your responsibility. When there is a deadline attached to that work, there is an expectation that you will meet it. You know you are capable, your bosses or teachers know you are capable, but something just won’t let you commit to this.
Fear or avoidance of responsibility can become a repetitive and detrimental problem. Everyone feels like they are in over their heads sometimes, and that feeling is okay. The problems come in when you allow those feelings to control you. Rather than ask for help, you simply avoid the task. Rather than jump right in and get an idea of what is expected of you, you put the project off, and add to that overwhelmed feeling.
Learning how to prioritize might be all you need. Taking charge does not have to be an intimidating prospect if you have a solid plan in place.
“Someday is not a day of the week.” – Janet Dailey
“I’ve been on a calendar, but never on time.” – Marilyn Monroe
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over, if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Just yesterday, I had to do some pretty major touch up painting on my shed. The rough winter is over now, but the wear and tear that came along with it is just beginning to show. I can’t say I was thrilled at the idea of spending a few hours painting, but I did try to make it fun. For one thing, I planned my project for the most gorgeous day of the week. I knew that if I had to be out there on a windy day, or if I had to rush to finish the job under threat of rain, I wouldn’t enjoy it. As a little added bonus, I loaded up my iPod with a fun, upbeat playlist before I got started. The job was finished in no time.
One of the issues facing procrastinators might be that we feel little to no sense of reward in our work. While it’s true that sometimes the work is just boring (like painting a white shed… white), that is not an excuse to avoid all work. If you can’t control the work, control the situation. I brought some music along, but maybe you would rather have peace and quiet to concentrate on something. I was painting, but maybe you are writing a novel. Try to make the environment in which you work as stress free as possible, and the deadlines won’t seem so impossible anymore.
“When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that in itself is a choice.” – William James
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney
To finish off the blog, I’d like to end with my favorite quote on the matter:
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank
Still procrastinating? Here’s a last minute link: “The Get Organized Booster”