I became quite frustrated as I saw it happen often. Then one day, I realized I was doing the same thing. I was “about to” do the laundry — which had become a mountain — but first, I was doing anything but laundry: checking my phone, doing the dishes (hey, I’m still doing a chore, right?), making an appointment, taking the dog out, checking my phone again. Pretty soon, an hour had slipped by!
Oftentimes, the first step is just to realize that you are procrastinating. We can trick ourselves into thinking we just have so many “other” things to do. The second step is to figure out why. Here are 3 reasons we procrastinate and how to stop:
1. The task will take a lot of time.
Get control of the time you spend on this task by determining how long you want to spend on it. For example, with my laundry, I can say, “I will spend 1 hour on laundry today. No more.” Maybe the task is calling your talkative friend. Start off the conversation by saying, “I really wanted to check in with you today, but I only have __ minutes to talk.” Putting an “end time” on things makes you feel like there is an end in sight. Therefore, it is doable.
Get control of the time you spend on this task by determining how long you want to spend on it.
2. The task will take a lot of emotional energy.
Sometimes we don’t know where to begin with a task because it is emotionally charged. Frankly, it’s easier to avoid it. This is different from a chore you dislike — we are talking about deep-seated feelings and relationships. Maybe there are photos and letters that you need to go through from a loved one who has passed away. Or perhaps you need to sell the classic car that belonged to your father. In these situations, you need to get support. Tell your spouse or friend how you’re feeling, and see if they can stand beside you as you do it. Ask for accountability to follow through with the task.
Perhaps you need to have a difficult conversation with someone. Plan out a little bit of what you are going to say. Write it out, speak into the mirror, or talk through it with a trusted friend. Having a plan will help take the fear out of the task and allow you to find the courage you need to take the leap.
3. We don’t know how to do it well.
When it’s something new or challenging, we tend to put it off. To avoid this, seek out help. Ask a friend, expert, book, or Google how to do it. Then just take step one. Sometimes we “muddle through” things the first time we do them — and that’s okay.
Remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Sometimes we think if we don’t know how it’s going to turn out, then we won’t do it at all. The thought of perfection brings disappointment and a fear of failure. We wait for a “better” time — one that will come later when the timing is just right. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.”
Lastly, envision how you will feel after you have jumped this hurdle! You will be proud of yourself and feel such a sense of relief. You can go to bed with a clear conscience and sleep peacefully, knowing you did your best. That’s all anyone can ask of us, after all.
Which of these things causes you to procrastinate most often?