WHY CAN'T I STOP PROCRASTINATING?
I should be doing the dishes instead of writing this...
Procrastination. I could write the book on it! But then, I'd probably start procrastinating, putting off working on it, finding other things to do.....and I would never finish the book.
What irony that would be! People would ask, "So when is your book on procrastination coming out?" And I would have to say, "I never finished writing it because I just kept procrastinating!"
Procrastinate. The dictionary definition is: To put off doing something until a future time. To postpone or defer taking action.
Yup...that about sums it up. But then again, we all KNOW what the word means. The REAL question is.....why do we do it?
And then the question after that, would be: How can we stop?
Because truly, no one actually likes being a procrastinator.
I don't particularly like procrastinating. I know darn well I should be tackling that sinkful of dirty dishes instead of sitting here writing hubs. And yet....here I am. And I don't feel totally happy about that fact.
Procrastinating doing chores makes me feel sort of.....guilty.....unsettled.......tense. That's because I can't fool myself. I KNOW there are things that need doing.....things I should be doing....things I WOULD be doing, if only I was a more RESPONSIBLE adult.
That's it...procrastinating makes me feel irresponsible...childlike...as if I were still living at home with my parents, watching TV instead of doing my homework. It's an icky feeling - not a good one.
Yet the slightly icky guilty feeling still seems preferable to the tedious chore of actually doing the dishes! I know I'll get around to them eventually. I just want to put off the unpleasantness for as long as I can.
Or maybe I'm hoping a little magic dish fairy will fly through the window and do them for me.
Or perhaps I'm waiting for them to finally invent a Dish Washing Robot. Yea, that's it! A mechanical A.I. to scrub my pots and pans, dry them, and put them away, all in good humor. Maybe even bring me some coffee when he's done.
It is 2011, after all. Shouldn't they be coming out with those soon?
Okay, so I'm just being silly. Anything to kill time, so I don't have to face those dishes! But seriously, procrastination isn't good. I remember when I was in school, I would put off doing a project until the last possible moment - and then I would rush through it, because I knew I had to get it done on time.
Honestly, is that any way to put your best effort into something? Not to mention, it's a very stressful way to live!
Instead of relaxing, taking my time, maybe even enjoying the process....which naturally would have resulted in a much better finished project...I was there nervously rushing to get it done.
(Teachers could always tell, too).
I think procrastination has to do with time - and how we WANT to spend it.
We THINK procrastination is actually buying us "extra time." It's like, we try to convince ourselves we're creating our own magical little time warp, where we can just keep on doing the "fun" stuff - the stuff we like.
That's understandable. Actually, that's very human - or probably ANY animal's nature, to avoid what's difficult or unpleasant.
But the truth is....we aren't really buying ourselves any extra time. Time is time....it's the same, whether we procrastinate or not. So why not get the chore done - as in the dishes - and THEN, actually ENJOY the time afterwards, knowing we don't have to face that sinkful of horror?
That way, we have the same AMOUNT of time to do what we want - and, as an added bonus, we don't have that icky, tense feeling knowing we should be doing something else.
So why aren't I jumping up to do the dishes? Well, maybe I WILL...right after I finish this. After all, I'm on a roll.
What I'm trying to say, after doing some research and soul searching on the subject is.....if we STOP PROCRASTINATING, we will actually BE HAPPIER, GET MORE STUFF DONE - AND PROBABLY GET IT DONE BETTER!
So really....it's kind of a no-brainer. We just have to battle our lazy, illogical, I hate-to-do-the-dishes weak human side and tap into our let me tackle this stuff and get it done logicalstrong side...(and tear ourselves away from the computer)....
After all, that's what the pioneers did, right? Actually, the pioneers KNEW they couldn't procrastinate, or they would starve. Now there's good incentive! (Of course they didn't have Hub Pages to distract them, either).
However, being happier and more productive, less stressed (and maybe even having MORE time to do what we want) are also good incentives to stop procrastinating.
So....I am going to share my anti-procrastination plan with you.
I want you to read it, then put it into action. Not later. NOW!
STOP PROCRASTINATING, IN 8 EASY STEPS
Whether it's matching up socks in the sock drawer, exercising, or writing that thank you note to Aunt Minny for that gift you hated, make a commitment to get it done! Here's how:
1). DO IT FIRST THING IN THE MORNING, AND GET IT OUT OF THE WAY! (Or adopt the "Do it now!" mindset). The night before, CONVINCE yourself, that you are going to wake up and tackle that dreaded chore.
If you need to head out the door early, tell yourself you will do the chore RIGHT WHEN YOU GET HOME.
If you need to wait until the weekend, do it FIRST THING Saturday morning. As Larry The Cable Guy says, "Get er' done!" The sooner the better.
Because the longer you wait around to do it, the more creative excuses you will come up with, along with reasons NOT to do it! Don't allow yourself to talk yourself out of exercising, or out of finally unpacking that box (yes - even though you moved into your place two years ago,you procrastinator, you)!
Conserve your mental energy. Save it for better things. Just get that task over with - reminding yourself of how good, how PROUD of yourself you will feel, when you do!
2). FIND WAYS TO MAKE THE TASK MORE TOLERABLE
Listening to music. That's the number one thing you can do to make a tedious task more tolerable....which probably explains why a lot of people exercise to music! Make it something upbeat....something that really makes you feel happy inside.
Whether it's Aretha Franklin, Bluegrass, Aerosmith, or even The Village People, your choice is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you're home alone - blast the music while you're in the kitchen, doing those dishes.
The pets might not be thrilled, but nobody ever sees them standing out there scrubbing crusted lasagna out of a pot, right?
If you have to run a serious of really boring chores, promise yourself you'll make your last stop somewhere pleasant - like the book store, or the frozen yogurt shop - and buy yourself a little treat!
3). ASK SOMEONE TO KEEP YOU COMPANY WHILE YOU DO THE DREADED CHORE
Studies have proven that we enjoy just about every activity MORE (except writing, of course) when we are in the company of others.
So find yourself an exercise buddy!
Invite your friend over when you have to clean out your closet. Before you know it, you'll be laughing over the things you find in there and having such a great time, you'll wonder why you ever put it off!
Ever wonder why people have "Painting Parties"? Now you know! Otherwise, the painting would never get done!
4). GET EVERYTHING READY TO DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Famous chefs do it. They assemble everything they're going to need to make a recipe, ahead of time. They chop up ingredients - put it into a bowl - get out all the cooking implements....that way, they don't need to go frantically searching for the sifter when they need it.
We can all take a lesson from this. When you are dreading a task, it can help to gather all the information and/or tools you will need to accomplish it.
This gives you a sense of "readiness" or "being in control" and "being organized" which makes it more likely that you will then tackle the task at hand!
5). MAKE A "TO DO" LIST...BUT MAKE IT SHORT
Making a "To Do" list can help. Just don't make your list a mile long - that's too intimidating! You'll see that list and just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over your head!
So here's my solution: Make it a SHORT list! I find that 3 items a day on my "To DO" list works well for me (on those days when I actually decide to get things done! Truly, the short list works. I really should commit to making it every day).
Crossing off an item on the list is very satisfying. Just write the 3 most important things you want to get done.
Try never to intimidate yourself into inaction. For instance, if you are attempting to write a book....don't order yourself to write ten chapters in a day. Instead, tell yourself to write one chapter a day. That's do-able - and before you know it,you'll be speeding through to the end! But every day, there should be some progress.
Ditto with exercising. Commanding yourself to dance to music for two and a half hours every day would be a bit daunting. However, telling yourself to dance for half an hour every day, isn't so terrifying. You may evenend up going OVER your time!
The point is to make a commitment and stick to it - EVERY DAY, if possible. (But don't beat yourself up if you skip a day here and there. After all, you're only human).
6). ASK FOR HELP, IF YOU CAN
No, I don't mean you should sit on your throne while you order your subjects to do all the chores! However, if you're swamped with housework and your kids are older, for instance, there's no reason they can't help out with the dishes or putting the laundry away, or shoveling the driveway.
Don't feel funny about asking!
Just remember...a lot of how they respond has to do with the WAY you ask.
Instead of grumbling, "Can I get some &^%$#@ help around here, you lazy oafs?" try cheerfully inquiring, "Hey you guys! I could really use some help putting those dishes away. Would you mind?" It'll make a world of difference, and take some of the pressure off of you.
7). TRY TO AVOID INTERUPTIONS
It really stinks when you finally begin tackling a dreaded chore and then you're interrupted by something dumb - like the Sprint operator calling to remind you to pay your bill! It totally throws you off your game!
Silence your phone if you can...warn your family, as you head into the bedroom that you are ABOUT TO ARRANGE THE SOCK DRAWER AND CAN NOT BE DISTURBED!
Then...shut the door! Just don't lay down and go to sleep. Or better yet...invite one of your family members to come help you....
8). REMIND YOURSELF OF HOW GOOD YOU'LL FEEL WHEN YOU GET IT DONE
Studies show that hitting a goal actually releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good! Crossing something off your to-do list really can improve your mood. It will physically give you a lift! There's a good reason to stop procrastinating, if ever I heard one!
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some dishes to wash.
Oh...one more thing (I swear I'm not procrastinating)! If you are procrastinating out of FEAR..... for instance, not sending your finished manuscript into a publisher because you dread the thought of rejection.... then all I have to say to that is..JUST DO IT!
The only way to get over your fear....and to find someone who DOES want your manuscript (or come up with an alternative, such as self publishing) is to TAKE ACTION!
Once you do, your fear will magically disappear. You will feel brave...proud of yourself...more hopeful and alive...besides, you only lose if you don't try at all. Just the fact you are making an effort renders you an active participant in life...a winner, no matter what!
Okay, NOW I will do those dishes.
DO YOU HAVE A BAD HABIT OF PROCRASTINATING....OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO DOES? GIVE THE GIFT OF "ACCOMPLISHING"!
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