The irony! It took me so long to set up The Wateringwell, I simply had to write about procrastination right up front. I learned quite a few things during this time which I want to share with you.
It took 3 years before my little piece of internet real estate saw the light of day. 3 years! Who on earth takes so long to do something that the internet tells you can be done in 30 minutes? In fact, it was more than 5 years from the time God first laid it upon my heart to write.
The excuses were numerous, but the underlying reasons were the all too common fear of failure, people’s opinions and doubt. It took a lot of prayers and overcoming to persist and finally take the plunge.
One of my Mom’s favorite sayings was: “Procrastination is the thief of time.” I must have been a procrastinator from childhood because one day when I was about 10, mom brought me home ‘A Round Tuit’. I stuck it up on my cupboard door and looked at it every day; I still didn’t get around to doing the things I disliked.
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 has consequences.
• Increased Stress and worry
• Poor health
• Self-defeating behaviour
• Missed opportunities
… to name a few.
Procrastination Steals more than time
Mom was right, procrastination is a thief. It steals time, treasures, our peace, and opportunities. That is not the life that God promises us. There are things that are beyond our control, but this is something that we often do to ourselves and it is within our control to prevent it.
The longer you delay something, the worse it seems. When you eventually do the job you often find, it isn’t all that bad and you feel wonderfully light and accomplished afterward. All that worry for no reason. Conversely, when something is left until the last minute, the fear 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?
I personally could kick myself when I look back and realize how many opportunities I have missed because I delayed for whatever reason.
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 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. That really motivated me to go ahead with my writing. I realized that it was no longer something that would be nice to do, it was a mandate, and putting it off was disappointing Him. That broke my heart.
After all that He had carried me through, all He had done for me. Here I was, more concerned about my own activities, my own desires, and my own weaknesses. That realization became my driving force.
Delaying the inevitable
I was 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.
Fear: the root cause
Fear is often the root cause, despite the excuse, especially when it is a biggie. 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.
We can really get into detail here which is way beyond the scope of this blog but if you are inclined to procrastinate and you know it is affecting your life, then do some further research and really own this subject. 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.
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.
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.
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”