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.
Great article, Nancy. There’s a motivational speaker named Mel Robbins who calls procrastination a stress management technique. I think that’s particularly true when we put off the things we are afraid to do like as you say in your article, filing a tax return or going to the dentist.
I think I’ll read this later.
I liked what you had to say too. When I feel like I am procrastinating, I think about being in the moment.It helps me be more productive and I get my tasks done in a more timely way. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
I never procrastinate today. I always put my procrastination off until tomorrow.
Just thinking about cleaning the oven deserves ice cream; actually cleaning the oven is probably worth a vacation.
The penalty/reward is often not considered on the same scale as the gargantuan task.
Sarcasm is its own reward.
I procrastinate with housework. When I finally get tired of looking at it, I clean. I find, though, when I get things done, when I’m supposed to – I am relieved that it’s done, and the chores don’t weigh on my mind.
Great article, Nancy. I procrastinate about certain things..like right now, sitting in my car in the gym parking lot, thinking, “what else can I do to procrastinate going in?” 🤣
We have to prioritize lifes activities and do what we have to do in order of importance. Cutting the grass today or tomorrow is not going to make any difference in ones life. Putting off something that could make you sick or kill you when you know there is something wrong but are afraid to get it looked will make a difference. Know what to procrastinate about and don’t worry about the small stuff. Do the have to stuff first.