Procrastinators are hopeful people.
I don’t know about you but if you’re like me, at the beginning of a project or chore, I really believe that I will get the job done. I sort of talk about it, make plans. Then make more plans, but eventually there is a time when I can do no more planning. It’s time to start. Then, the excuses kick in. First in my mind, then I make it in front of other people.
Let me give you some tough love right here. If you are a procrastinator, like me, you know that we are a pro at making excuses. In fact, we have more than one that we can pull out of the bag for a variety of occasions.
Before you read on, be warned that this post may bring out into the open and expose all those flimsy excuses we have been making to ourselves and to others.
So, in no particular order, here are the top three favorite excuses of a procrastinator and what to do about them:
Excuse 1: I need time to think this through before I get started
Procrastinators like to ponder the job that is before them. Thinking about it is a whole lot easier than starting it. Sometimes the pondering process can take days, or weeks, or months. For some, it can take years.
Ever dreamed of doing something – maybe get a degree or start a business – but then you told yourself that you need to look at it from many different angles before you begin? Well, you can lose yourself in the thinking process but it will not get you anywhere.
Find your step one and do it. You do not have to have everything figured out before you start. When the road ahead seems uncertain, learn to take God’s hand and let Him lead you. Just enough light for the step we’re on. When we do step one, step two will reveal itself, then step three. So, find your step one and do it.
Excuse 2: I need to be organized before I start. I’m starting it later, or maybe tomorrow.
At the prospect of starting the task or project, some procrastinators – like me – turns into this organizational fanatic. My desk has to be cleaned, drawers cleared out and files alphabetized – again! Sometimes, the entire room has to be rearranged!
This organizational busywork helps delay the starting process while at the same time giving us that satisfying feeling that we are accomplishing something, making us look productive. Which at first glance, people might think we are really getting down to the job. But we know deep within, we are procrastinating!
Just start. Organized or not. Because if not now then when? There is no better day to start anything than today. Here’s the truth, tomorrow is a day that never arrives. When tomorrow comes, you will find another excuse to put it off, whatever the ‘it’ is.
If today isn’t a good day to start, then chances are tomorrow won’t be any better. And the excuses continues.
Excuse 3: I’m not the in the mood
Waiting until the mood strikes is always an affective way to procrastinate, because chances are the mood wont strike at the right time. The fortunate procrastinator gets a whim to begin the project when commuting, driving or in the shower. If the mood doesn’t strike at a convenient place to begin the project, then she’ll just have to keep waiting.
Truth is, some procrastinators aren’t really sure what the mood feels like, but they’re confident they’ll recognize it when it strikes. But then, again, the right mood doesn’t come.
Start an initiating task, a micro action. By initiating task, I mean something that will jumpstart you to take action especially when the mood is not there.
Maybe it’s shining your sink if it has something to do with a house chore. Maybe it’s turning off your notifications or your cellphone or internet connection altogether if you need to focus on a task or project.
Maybe it’s declaring aloud what you need to do and proceed to doing it. Maybe it’s setting the timer or turning on the music. Maybe it’s actually tying your shoes and putting on your gym clothes if you need to exercise. Whatever it is, start with a micro action, a micro movement.
Most of the time, we are just making excuses to ourself and not to other people. So, even though it’s difficult, recognizing these excuses as little white lies is the first step in slaying the dragon of procrastination that haunts us day and night.
Here’s what I suggest that you do. Challenge your own thinking and your own excuses. Identify what it is the one thing that you need to get done right now that you have been putting off. Find your step one, just start by starting an initiating task.
If you would excuse me. I will now change into my walking clothes and actually walk so I can reach my 10,000 steps today. I dread exercise so I’m writing this blog because I am procrastinating. But time to walk the talk.