The irony! It took me so long to set up The Wateringwell, I simply had to write about procrastination right upfront. Why do we procrastinate and inevitably cause ourselves more stress in the long run?
As a single mom, I was often guilty of procrastination. Whether it was doing the washing or facing debt, there always seemed to be too many balls to juggle on my own. What I refused to accept at the time, was that I only added to my workload.
“Procrastination is the thief of time” was one of my mother’s favorite sayings, one I passed onto my own kids. I must have been a procrastinator from childhood because I remember when I was about 10, Mum brought me home ‘A Round Tuit’. I pinned it up on my cupboard door and looked at it every day. I’m not sure how helpful it was but the memory stuck!
The Dodo Principle
Wayne (hubby) and I share something we call “The Dodo Principle”. It came about during one of our trips to Mauritius. I had seen a gorgeous set of Dodo’s (their national bird, now extinct) in the hotel boutique shop. Thinking I might find a nicer or cheaper pair elsewhere, I didn’t buy them. Well, I didn’t find a nicer/cheaper pair and when I went back to buy the original ones I had fallen in love with, they were gone. We searched everywhere and even arrived at the airport early, thinking they might have a better selection. Nothing. And so the Dodo Principle (do it now or you may lose out) was adopted.
No Laughing Matter
We may laugh about it and if you google procrastination, you will find many humorous sayings. On a more serious note though, procrastination leads to increased stress and worry; guilt; missed opportunities; self-defeating behavior and even health problems. And as a single mom, you don’t need more of that, do you?
I personally could kick myself when I look back and realize how many opportunities I missed because I procrastinated for whatever reason.
Procrastination Steals more than time
My mum was right, procrastination is a thief. It steals time, treasures, our peace, and opportunities to name a few. The more you delay something, the worse it becomes, affecting our kids and other areas of our lives too. When you eventually do the job you often find it wasn’t that bad after all.
Admittedly there are sometimes things beyond our control, but the consequences of procrastination are often self-inflicted. All that added pressure for no reason.
Conversely, when something is left until the last minute, a threat can become a reality because there are consequences. It may not sound important, but procrastination stops us from being productive and it adds unnecessary stress to our lives. Why do we do this to ourselves?
Fear: the root cause of procrastination
No matter what excuse we give, fear is most often, the underlying cause of our procrastination. The more we think about it, the more insurmountable it seems. It becomes a cycle of worry, delay, stress, fear which leads to more worry and less inclination to do the necessary.
To overcome this fear, we need to acknowledge, confront, rationalize, and strategize. When we are able to identify exactly what it is that is holding us back, we can find strategies to deal with it. Don’t allow procrastination to prevent you from living a fulfilling life, your life is worth far more than that.
For more insight into the cause and effects of fear, read the post on “How to overcome fear in your life”.
When Procrastination Disappoints God
Procrastinating in our everyday lives is one thing. Procrastinating when God has laid upon your heart to do something, is another story.
The Bible doesn’t actually mention procrastination but it is right up there with laziness and it says lots about that. About 18 months before The Wateringwell was finalized, my eyes were opened to the truth that DELAY IS DISOBEDIENCE. Disobedience is sin…and the Bible has lots to say about that.
Wow! That truth hit me hard. When we know that we should be doing something that will please God and we don’t do it, we are disobeying Him. Even if we plan to do it at a later stage. When God wants us to do something, it is not an optional extra, it is a command and putting it off will disappoint Him. That breaks my heart because His timing is always impeccable when it is something I need.
This realization has become quite a driving force for me whenever I feel like I am procrastinating. After all that God has carried me through, all He has done for me. Here I was, more concerned about my own activities, my own desires, and my own weaknesses.
For more on this topic, you can read about Living in obedience to God here.
Delaying the inevitable
I am reminded of Jonah and how he tried to avoid going to Nineveh. Long story that we all know but in the end, he went. God’s mission was accomplished. Every time I slackened off, felt I couldn’t do it, or thought maybe I had heard wrong, I remembered Jonah. Or I would hear that gentle voice “I told you to write”. Nothing like that to help you overcome!
If there is something in your heart right now, that you feel you should be doing, listen to that small voice. Don’t delay. God is not going to let it go and you will only be adding unnecessary stress to your life.
I love the quote by Mark Twain who once said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
So I did. Not eat frogs of course, but tackled the scariest or most difficult job first. Once you have “eaten that frog”, it’s amazing how good you feel. What is the next step you can take? That one small thing that you can do today? Not tomorrow or later. Now. It doesn’t have to be huge.
We supposedly live in a world of instant gratification. This is one time you actually can indulge. It feels so good once you have completed an unpleasant task, you are then motivated, in turn, to take on something else, and so it goes on. Procrastination can contribute to depression while completing tasks can help to lighten the heaviness a little. Unfortunately, we tend to want to do what’s easy or fun before the mundane boring jobs. Often the tasks we put off are the important ones, leading to stress and panic when we run out of time.
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I thought it was my mom who coined this phrase, but apparently, it was Benjamin Franklin.
Whether it’s God’s quiet voice, Dodo Principles or Round Tuits; whatever it takes, be sure to grab hold of what lies in store for you. Don’t let doubt, fear or uncertainty hold you back.
So let’s get some perspective and tackle it head-on.
- What is your reason for procrastinating? Take some time to think about it. There may be more than one reason, it’s by no means an exhaustive list. By uncovering the cause of your reason/s for procrastinating, you can understand it, acknowledge it and then find solutions to address it.
- What is your delay tactic? If it is your phone, for example, lock it away or give it to somebody else to keep.
If this is something that you are really struggling with on your own and you would like prayer, somebody to chat to or advice, you are welcome to:
- Email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send me a private message on Facebook
- Post your request in the comments section below
I leave you with this quote from Florence Nightingale~ “I attribute my success to this, I never gave or took any excuse”