Meet the Culprit

Meet the Culprit

April is here and along with my birthday, April 1, comes another potential Fool’s Day, April 15.  A day of wonderment and awe, when young and old, rich and poor, gay and straight, employed and unemployed, religious and irreligious queue up together at post offices around the country to file their taxes on time.

In my book, early is on time, on time is late, and late is a missed opportunity.

They say nothing is certain but death and taxes.  I’d like to add procrastination to the list.

Time to ponder procrastination….

“I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do – the day after.”
― Oscar Wilde

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
― Pablo Picasso

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Do any of these positions reflect yours? How many times have you sat down at your computer to accomplish something on your “to-do” list, only to find yourself, hours later, still looking at lo-res cat videos?  How many weeks have you gone without watering your plants?  Doing your laundry? I know, I know, planticide is a little extreme, but I’m trying to make a point:

Procrastination is a symptom of what I call the pursuit of busy.  It’s made up of a million conscious and unconscious choices, and is all very innocent until procrastination takes over.  Before you know it, you’re the guy who always shows up late.  You’re the gal who missed your parents’ birthdays.

We procrastinate for a million reasons.  My favorites include:

1. Fear of failure
2. Lack of clarity
3. Frustration at being tasked in the first place
4. General inertia and boredom

Think about what you might add to the list….Think about which of these have been true for you….

Time for a self-check.

Do you consider yourself to be a procrastinator?
Answer these:

True or False?
I find myself looking at Facebook over 5 times in an hour when I’m at work.
I look at my phone every 2 minutes while riding in a car or on public transportation.
I run out of clean socks regularly.
I’m almost always 30+ minutes late to everything.
I’ll clean my entire house before opening a new book that was assigned to me.

3-4 Yep

2     Maybe 
0-1  Nope

If you scored 0-1, give yourself a pat on the back and then get back to work.

If you scored 2-4, take a little time to think about two or three specific steps you might take to move through procrastinate tendencies.

My suggestions:
Make a list of small do-able action items.  Breaking down a larger project into smaller ones can help you manage the beast more effectively.

Set some goals for yourself. Bring in an accountability coach — your roommate, boss, friend, partner, parent — someone you respect and admire.  Share the goals with your coach and check in often as you work to achieve them.

Celebrate small victories. When you accomplish even a small task, give yourself an appropriately measured reward.  Big goals are achieved by taking lots of little steps.  Check in and experience pride where pride is due.

I would venture to guess that the folks who wait until April to file their taxes, wait until the last moment to tackle other big life stuff as well.  Do you have the power to make a shift?  I’m betting that you do!

How do you stave off procrastination?  Share your tips below.

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