Procrastination: “the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time”.
Procrastination used to be a permanent habit. I remember writing one university assignment all night, finishing it just in time to drive into university to deliver it at 9am.There was a certain stress level that had to build up inside before I would feel compelled to begin a task that I didn’t like. It’s a habit I hate in myself and have sort to conquer with varying success over the years. I hate that I will frequently expend more energy stressing over the task than it would actually take to do the job:-( And frequently the task becomes more difficult if left undone for longer.
Here are a couple of things I do to avoid the procrastination trap.
The above approach is quite clever and I use a modified version of it when I am really struggling.
If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.
Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.
Because my life is filled with many different tasks in many different areas, I am able to used structured procrastination to make myself reasonable productive. I will often do housework, tasks urgent and important to avoid working in my home business, tasks also urgent and important. Then when I have finished all the important and urgent housework tasks, I often think of all the important but not so urgent housework I should be doing, that I don’t feel like doing. Then I will happily go to my website work to avoid them and round it goes.
This is a last resort strategy because it doesn’t actually deal with the bad habit of trying to avoid unpleasant tasks.
The second strategy is to cultivate the habit of ” just to do it”. This is the most effective method. I don’t even think about putting it off to later:
For example when I pick up my mail from the PO Box. I open it and throw out all the stuff I don’t need in the rubbish bin at the post office. I pay any bills online as soon as I get in the door and I answer any letters straight away. Gosh it feels good! I had a stage when I kept notepaper, envelopes and stamps in my handbag so I could write and post the letters right then and there at the post office. I don’t do that anymore:-(
I know that if I fill the sink with hot soapy water before I serve the meal, that as we clear the table at the end of the meal that it is easy to wash and put them in the dishwasher. But if I leave a stack of dirty dishes beside the sink it takes so much more emotional energy to do the dishes.
PS. Having a loved one with cancer was one of things that inspired me most to fight procrastination in my life. Some of the most important things in life will never be “urgent”. Life’s pressures would never force me to do these most important things.
You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.
Are your besetting sins as attractive as they were before you had cancer? If so you are wasting your cancer. Cancer is designed to destroy the appetite for sin. Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination—all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack. Don’t just think of battling against cancer. Also think of battling with cancer. All these things are worse enemies than cancer. Don’t waste the power of cancer to crush these foes. Let the presence of eternity make the sins of time look as futile as they really are. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25). http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/dont-waste-your-cancer
There will always be more work than I can do. I must choose the most important, often non urgent things.