The top of my dryer is the most valuable real estate in my home. I have kept my cholesterol numbers there, a list of the next books I need to buy or obtain from the library, my grocery list, food ads, and Macy’s coupons. For years (at least four) I had a big envelope on the dryer. I had to take the envelope off the dryer to fold the clothes. Then, put the envelope back on the dryer. Back and forth. Back and forth. And, I do loads of wash a week. (I love talking about stain removal).
Do you have something that bugs the heck out of you but you just don’t get to it like my envelope. The envelope contained 4 pages of paperwork needed for our will. When Brett turned 18 and I had been doing the “will washer dryer dance” for 4 years. Brett goes to college and I am still dancing away in the laundry room worrying, “Gotta do a will. Gotta do a will!” The week I turned 50 I thought ENOUGH! That week, Gary, and I attended a Community Ed class for a will and a living will. Done. Relief! Life goes on, and for the last year or so I have been worrying about social security. Should I wait until I am 70 for more bucks or start at 66 and 2 months? I checked this toleration off our list as last night we attended a workshop on Social Security presented by Eden Prairie Community Ed. Relief!
I have had clients tell me they are professional procrastinators. I understand as I can also be the Queen of Delay. We did not realize how lucky we were when the kids were home and they were our little servants. They did lots of chores including emptying the dishwasher. One night, as empty nesters, after dinner we had to empty the dishwasher before we could load it. Goodness! The next week I realized the dishwasher needed to be emptied again. I actually spent 7 hours reminding myself, “Chere you better empty the dishwasher before dinner.” I finally did. It only took 4 minutes. Now I time stuff that I need to do. Sounds pretty funny but we do manage what we measure!
INACTION TAKES MORE ENERGY THAN ACTION!
We all procrastinate. For some it is infrequent, for others it appears daily. Why do we procrastinate? I think the giant to do list and overwhelm is the biggest reason. We feel stressed out, or stuck and just can’t focus our energy so we jump from one task to the next all day. Multitasking is the biggest enemy of our energy and yet some people use it every day. Those are the professional procrastinators.
Many people focus on perfection. I will wait to do this until I can do it perfectly. As Mark LeBlanc likes to say, “Done is better than perfect!” Done! Memorize those magic words. Sometimes we procrastinate because of fear. It can be fear of taking a risk, fear of failure or success. Fear can lead some people into procrastinating as they believe doing nothing is better than taking action and possibly risking failure.
FIVE IDEAS TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION
◊ Dump perfection. Give yourself credit for effort, not perfection.
◊ Keep only the stuff you treasure and use. Just because someone close to you gave you something does not mean you need to keep it. Take a photo and give it to someone who needs it or will treasure it more.
◊ Plan. Create space in your day to stay in charge. I have a client who sets her timer every day for 9 minutes to organize her home. Have a reserve of time in your schedule because things often take longer than we think.
◊ Energy. Know your energy highs and lows on work days and non-work days. Schedule your to do list when your energy is highest or for your most difficult task.
◊ Shoulds. Notice your to do list. If it is full of “shoulds,” like “I should volunteer for…” it is often full of obligations, duties and big time guilt. Your shoulds may be holding you back from what you want. Wants are more fun than shoulds!
As Rita Emmett explains in her book, The Procrastinator’s Handbook,
“Nobody nowhere has a life filled with pleasantness, totally devoid of unpleasantness…so accept the fact that if you want to be a functioning human being, you will be stuck doing some miserable boring tasks. What do you do then? You first need to start with a change in attitude. No more whining and complaining! Instead, say to yourself: “OK I hate doing ____ but I hate the stress of NOT doing it even more!”
Remember inaction takes more energy than action. Better get busy. I’m here for you as I am pretty good at knowing how to procrastinate but even better at checking stuff off your list.
We can’t wait to hear what has helped your procrastination.