I’ve been meaning to write about procrastination for months, and I’m finally getting around to it. And I’ve been thinking that procrastination isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s a human thing. We all do it. So let’s take a moment to consider the consequences of, and yes, the rewards for procrastinating. Rewards, you wonder? Maybe “reward” is too strong a word. How about “immediate gratification” instead? It’s a Sunday night, and there’s a bag of Chex Mix in my pantry. I’ll eat it now and start my diet for real tomorrow morning. Procrastination? Yes. Immediate gratification? I guess so.
Of course, the consequences of procrastination are a lot more significant than the rewards. I’m sure we all know somebody who neglects to file a tax return on April 15th, causing the assessment of penalties. And we all justify why we put things off. So, what do you suppose creates more anxiety, the procrastination itself, or the rationalization?
In my divorce mediation practice, it doesn’t take me long to figure out whether a particular client tends to procrastinate, and how the partner feels about it. Let me ask you this: What really happens when a procrastinator lives with a non-procrastinator? Sometimes it simply boils down to differences in scheduling values. I was taught to finish what I had to do before I could start on what I wanted to do. My ex husband, on the other hand, was raised by an enabling mother who finished things for him. If I asked him at 9 a.m. to vacuum the living room before company came over that night for dinner, inevitably he would pull out the vacuum at 6:45 p.m., moments before the doorbell rang. Eventually, I learned to place a deadline on my requests in the hopes that he would understand that my scheduling values were important to me. I’m not gonna lie — it didn’t work all that well.
If you’re a procrastinator, are you okay with that? If not, would you like a few tips on how to make some adjustments?
Are you overwhelmed about where to begin? Try breaking down the task into baby steps. For example, imagine hiring professional movers to pack up your household. They start with one room at a time. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Is it that you simply don’t feel like doing it? I mean, who wants to clean the oven? But what if you rewarded yourself with something fun after you’ve finished the task, like a movie, or a hike, or an ice cream cone?
Do you think it’s not all that urgent? I suggest taking a look at the bigger picture. Sometimes a sensitive tooth can wind up becoming an expensive root canal.
Are you afraid to fail? Try giving yourself permission to look at it differently. Use other words, like “it will be a learning experience,” or “If I don’t do well, I won’t do it again.”
Please share your thoughts. And do it RIGHT NOW, while I’m looking for the Chex Mix.