Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.
Last week I advocated clearing the decks so I would have more time to read, relax and do some constructive thinking. I was pretty successful in the workload reduction, due in part to some minor health issue as well as really relaxing. In truth I have been over relaxing. I have found that the relaxing part has taken up so much time that I have not done nearly as much reading as I would like. I also set such a high priority on napping that I did not get much productive thinking done. At least I did resume my daily exercise.
I think I forgot to think about the possible side effects of what I had prescribed for myself. I should have realized that I could be so lulled into inaction that I would find it easy to put off the little nuisance things like paying bills and answering mail. Now I realize I succumbed to the siren song of procrastination so I again reminded that there are something’s that are critical even though they appear to be minor on the surface. I am now restarting my day with a time slot set aside to do what needs to be done so that my tomorrows will not start with an ever increasing backlog of unavoidable tasks.
I also revisited the always wise Gretchen Rubin’s thoughts on procrastination and what she does to keep it at bay. Here is what she wrote.
Eight tips to stop procrastinating
1. Put yourself in jail. If I feel pressure to jump in and finish something in a rush, and therefore can’t bear to start, sometimes I put myself in jail. If you’re in jail, you have all the time in the world. You have no reason to hurry, no reason to cut corners or to try to do too many things at once. You can slow down, concentrate. You can take the time to get every single detail right.
2. Ask for help. This is one of my most useful Secrets of Adulthood. Why is this so hard? I have no idea. But whenever I have trouble getting started because I don’t know exactly what to do, and I ask for help, I’m amazed at how much it…helps.
3. Remember: most decisions don’t require extensive research. I often get paralyzed by my inability to make a decision, but by reminding myself that often, one choice just isn’t that much different from another choice, I can get started. Also, I try to identify a knowledgeable person, and just follow whatever that person does.
4. Take a baby step. If you feel yourself dismayed at the prospect of the chain of awful tasks that you have to accomplish, just take one step today. Tomorrow, take the next step. The forward motion is encouraging, and before long, you’ll probably find yourself speeding toward completion. In the same vein…
5. Suffer for 15 minutes. You can do anything for fifteen minutes, and fifteen minutes, day after day, adds up surprisingly fast. That’s how I finally dug myself out of my crushing (if virtual) load of digital photos. Fifteen minutes at a time.
6. Do it first thing in the morning. The night before, vow to yourself to do the dreaded task. Get everything ready — any phone numbers of information you need, files assembled, everything ready to go. And the next day, at the first possible moment – as soon as you walk into work, or when the office opens, or whenever – just do it. Don’t allow yourself to reflect or procrastinate. This is particularly true of exercise. If you think you’ll be tempted to skip, try to work out in the morning.
7. Protect yourself from interruption. How often have you finally steeled yourself to start some difficult project, only to be interrupted the minute you get going? This makes a hard task much harder. Carve out some time to work.
8. Remember, work can be one of the most pernicious forms of procrastination. Don’t kid yourself.
“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”
Two husbands, Bill and Doug, were discussing their married lives. Although happily married, they admitted that there were arguments sometimes.
Then Bill said, “I’ve made one great discovery. I now know how to always have the last word.”
“Wow!” said Doug, “How do you manage that?”
“It’s easy,” replied Bill. “My last words are always ‘Yes, Dear.'”
If it’s not one thing, it’s twenty.
City Boy: Say, Dad, how many kinds of milk are there?
Father: Well, there’s evaporated milk, buttermilk, malted milk, and — but why do you wish to know?
City Boy: Oh, I’m drawing a picture of a cow, and I want to know how many *spigots* to put on her.
“No birth is an accident, no experience is without meaning, and no life is without value.”
A priest was given the job of hearing the confessions of an order of monks. The priest returned to his parish that night and complained to one of the nuns about how long each of the monks took to enumerate all of their sins.
“Oh Father,” said the nun. “It couldn’t have been that bad.”
The priest replied, “Oh it was worse than you can imagine. It was like being stoned to death with popcorn.”
Funny, I don’t remember being absent minded.
The kindergarten class had settled down to its coloring books. Willie came up to the teacher’s desk and said, “Miss Francis, I ain’t got no crayons.”
“Willie,” Miss Francis said, “you mean, “I don’t have any crayons.’ You don’t have any crayons. We don’t have any crayons. They don’t have any crayons. Do you see what I’m getting at?”
“Not really,” Willie said, “What happened to all them crayons?”
“I think Little League (baseball) is wonderful. It keeps the kids out of the house.”
A minister decided to try something a little different one Sunday morning. He said, “Today, in church, I am going to say a single word and you are going to help me preach. Whatever single word I say, I want you to sing whatever hymn comes to your mind.” The pastor shouted out, “Cross!”
Immediately the congregation started singing in unison “The Old Rugged Cross.”
The pastor hollered out, “Grace!” The congregation began to sing “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.”
The pastor said, “Power!” The congregation sang “There is Power in the Blood.”
The Pastor said, “Sex!”
The congregation fell in total silence. Everyone was in shock. They all nervously began to look around at each other, afraid to say anything. Then all of a sudden, from the back of the church, a little old 87-year-old grandmother stood up and began to sing “Precious Memories.”
“The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too.”
Norman Vincent Peale
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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