Procrastination and Priorities

  1. to defer action; delay.
  2. to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.
I could definitely be considered a serial procrastinator. I know I'm not the only person who struggles with procrastination, because I have clicked on many articles with tips on how to avoid procrastination, and if people are writing about it and people are reading about it, then there must be other people struggling with it. I firmly believe procrastination is fairly common, and it's likely this post would have gotten more readers if I had entitled it: 'Conquer Your Procrastination' or similar.

Procrastination is not without consequence. Things that get put off tend to pile up. The 'list of things you need and want to do' gets longer and longer. When you finally make the time to start addressing the list, deciding which thing on the list to address eats up a large portion of that time since there is so much to choose from. While that sand slides through the hourglass, you not only feel the burden your procrastination has caused, but that while you decide what to do you're making things worse.

My ability to procrastinate used to come with a sense of pride. The homework with the ever-approaching deadline? No match for me. I was fully capable of putting it off and putting it off, only to cram in a burst of effort at the last minute and still get a passing grade. Marvel at my prowess! Inevitably, I reached the point in my life where I realized that getting a passing grade was a lot more difficult in the real world, and my procrastinating habits were making my life harder instead of easier. I also realized that I owed it to myself to do better than 'a passing grade,' and that pride in doing my best on a task tasted far sweeter than pride in my ability to procrastinate and not fail.

Thinking it Through
I was actually in the process of not-procrastinating when this post began to form in my mind. Particularly when what you've been putting off is manual labor: washing dishes, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash - your mind has plenty of time for internal dialogue about abstract concepts. As my hands did their work, my mind examined my procrastination.

Was I intentionally procrastinating? I don't really need to make a budget. I've gotten by, at least, with not having one for many years. I want to be on a budget, I want better control of my finances. Surely with these noble goals I wasn't intentionally avoiding making a budget. Even back in school, I wasn't intentionally avoiding the homework. I wanted to spend time on it. I wanted an awesome finished project. I wanted to knock it out of the park.

If I wanted to spend time on it, why wasn't I?
Because you don't want to spend time on it, you want to have already spent time on it. You want it to be done, to reap the benefits of having done it - but you don't actually want to do the thing itself.
Instant gratification? Of course that's what I wanted. Only in retrospect does my desire for the result outweigh what I wanted to do at the time.

But it happens almost every time. Almost every time I choose what I want to do at the moment of what I want to have done, and almost every time hindsight shows it to have been the wrong choice. Logic suggests remembering this and using it to overcome the appeal of what I want to do at a given moment - yet, logic faces a challenging foe in the form of momentary desires.

Priorities in Order
My rational mind constructs a simple plan to follow. It sorts through all of the retrospective anecdotes and finds the pattern of the data. To reduce the stress of enormous todo lists, follow these simple steps:

It assures me that by doing so my life will become more peaceful and more under control. My stress level will decrease. My contentedness will increase. Just follow these simple steps. Try it for a short time, prove it's effectiveness.

 I see the logic. I see the simple wisdom. Then it occurs to me, This wisdom should be shared. You should turn all of this thought into a blog post. Quick, do it now, before you lose the inspiration.

Clearly it will take great effort to promote this and manage to prevent hypocrisy.

It will. Let's focus on that right after we write the post and hit publish...