Putting an End to Procrastination

My name is Bethany and I am a recovering procrastinator.

That’s the reason that I fell so far behind when I returned to work last year. I didn’t get everything done that I needed to do at the beginning of the school year, and it snowballed. I tried setting up a schedule; I tried setting up a “time budget” to better organize my days. But all that happened was that I continued to fall further behind–at work and at home. I spent the entire year playing an impossible game of catch-up, and I was unable to accomplish what I wanted at home or at work.

Why do we procrastinate? I think there are a variety of reasons, including:

–Perfectionism. The Fly Lady has taught us that we often choose not to do things because we don’t feel that we can do them well enough. This is while I let the housework slide.

–Insecurity. Sometimes we don’t want to face the task, because it reveals an unpleasant truth. That’s why I put off paying the bills or making a budget.

–We would rather do something else. Some tasks are just unpleasant. My paperwork for work would fall in this category. It’s time-consuming, and it takes away from time I could spend with my family. That’s why I’m tempted to let that slide.

–We’ve overwhelmed. It’s hard to start a daunting task. The jarring change from life on board to life back at home and work makes it very tempting for me to put things off.

So, what can we do about procrastination? How can we keep from falling behind? I’m happy to say that, this year, I have finally succeeded in this arena. Here’s how I do it:

–Prioritize. There is one category of “stuff to do” that needs your attention first, whether you like it or not. For me, this was the work-related paperwork. This was difficult because I, like most women of our generation, struggle already with balancing work and family. Rob and Beanie need my attention, as does my house. But, I needed to face the reality that things would be quite a bit out of balance for a week, so that they could be back in balance the rest of the school year. Once I was no longer playing catch-up, I only needed to spend a few minutes at home each day doing work-related tasks.

–Make a “to-do” list. I do well if I have a list. There is something gratifying about crossing off items as I finish them. I write absolutely everything I can think of, for that area, on my list.

–Give yourself a week to get everything done, at first. When you first start, you’re probably quite a bit behind. So you’ll need some time to get it done. Giving yourself a week will give you the time you need, but still give you a deadline, so you don’t continue procrastinating.

–Start a new list, and have an “anti-procrastination day” each week. Maintenance is the easy part, if you stick to it. I’m going to use Tuesday, my “plan and play” day for this. This is when I will get all the bills taken care of, send in all the paperwork for Beanie’s preschool, and spend some time at home making sure I stay caught up at work. Get in the habit of doing things as you get them, so that you’re not doing all of your work on one day. But, use that day as your deadline. Don’t let things pile up!

Let’s all get caught up this year!

4 thoughts on “Putting an End to Procrastination

  1. Nice post which touches on an issue close to my heart. I was a terrible procrastinator, the worst, but I overcame this using a simple system. It’s basically a very simplified version of the popular GTD system which I cobbled together myself after years of frustration. I should probably write about it on my blog at some point. Some good advice there, thanks!

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