Tomorrow - The Danger of Procrastination
Procrastination is a common household word. Many people are guilty of harboring this tendency and really are not quite sure what it entails. When I was growing up I saw my mom, who was a wonderful housewife and mother, always very attentive to everything that needed to be done. She was hardworking, meticulous and enjoyed the fruits of her labor.
Our home was beautifully decorated, meals were very nutritious and presentable, her girls (I have two sisters) neatly dressed, hair coiffed and we were on time for school and church.
My lovable dad, also hard working, was not as quick with certain chores or responsibilities. They got done, but it irritated my mother to no end, and often I would hear "you mean you haven't finished that yet?!" Strangely enough, dad was never late for or hesitatant to play a game or two of tennis, which was his passion!
Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines procrastination as "to put off intentionally and habitually." It is also "To put off the doing of something that should be done." In the Latin translation it is "procrastinatusm" meaning "tomorrow." Innumerable people put off, delay, or are in a constant mode of doing something tomorrow that either should or could be done more easily, today.
I chose this topic as my first entry into Hubpages because for about three years my sister has been encouraging me to join. When I reflect on the past two years,
I can remember the many excellent and useful articles she has written here (2besure). Yet, it was always my intention to join but never did. As in the definition described above, I thought to myself "I'll check it out tomorrow." Tomorrow dissolved into three years.
For some this might seem like such a trivial subject. For those who have all of their "ducks in a row", this article may not be for you. However, many people are struggling and even suffering pain and/or hardships because of this foe called procrastination. Lives experience chaos due to the "helter skelter" pattern of getting things done.
For those who have decided to read on, you hopefully will find something helpful within these lines. To begin with, I have a series of questions and statements to stimulate thought and give an opportunity for individual determination as to where you might stand on this topic.
Food For Thought
My first question to the reader is "how often have you put something off until tomorrow? " Perhaps it was a project, chore or making an important appointment. Was it going back to school to complete a degree or even perhaps your first?
Or, you've been meaning to re-decorate your home or take a long needed vacation. So many people meant to make out a Will and never got to it.
Whatever you've been putting off until a more convenient or affordable time can possibly be termed "procrastination." You might be wondering "well, honestly, I don't see the big deal. What's so dangerous about that?!" While certain issues might not be considered dangerous, the mere fact that we are comfortable with delaying projects or accomplishments can very well lead to a more serious concern.
Check out this video. Can you see something of yourself here? I surely did. It sounds humorous, but really, it isn't. There's nothing funny about being trapped in the vice of procrastination!
Every Aspect of Life
When we reflect on our careers and what it entails to be successful at what we do, procrastination can lead to potential problems. Take the attorney that misses the deadline on a set of court papers.
As a former legal secretary, I spent many long evenings revising memorandums of law, interrogatories and the like because an attorney fell victim to an extended game of golf or an afternoon lunch with an old friend.
The previous two weeks of my little post-it reminders and setting the Outlook alarm went unheeded. The paralegal was sent flying out of the office like a maniac to file those documents just hours before the court closed.
For the vehicle that has been making that "strange noise" it can cost the owner a larger sum of money to get it repaired, or the final consequences might involve having to pay the cost of replacing the car altogether.
Too often, a person with the persistent cough procrastinates in making a medical appointment. A dear friend of mine skipped a mammography appointment one year and the next year was diagnosed with breast cancer.
And, how many of us wait until April 13 to even take a first look at our taxes? What kind of dollars are we throwing away because we missed an item on the forms? You now wait on line for your tax preparer and an even longer line at the post office. Don't forget, "certified, return receipt!" What mess and unnecessary frustration. The student who does an "all nighter" for an exam, takes the test with bleary eyes and more often than not, no breakfast. Perhaps they received a score of 85.
In all of the above scenarios the end result might not have been disastrous, but the method in what was accomplished was certainly not the wisest.
Taking Care of Finances
When handling money issues, many couples have disagreements on how to handle their finances. Some prefer to pay their bills on the first of the month, while others want to wait until the month's end. There are others who deliberately wait for a first notice and amazingly some rationalize to themselves that waiting until they receive a "final notice" gives them more time to get it together.
You will be surprised to learn that in some of these cases it isn't even about money. You see, this tendency is not confined by any economic or social group. There is sufficient cash in the checking account, but procrastination is the one in control! I have a relative who once told me "I have the money to pay my bills, but I just resent paying them, so I'm making my creditors wait." Unbelievable!
When delay is the order of the day and the outcome isn't disastrous, one has a tendency to think that the manner in which they handled the situation was okay. What a deception and a subconscious excuse to repeat this bad habit over and over and over again. It has become a lifestyle! It is a fact that habitual delays only lead to frustration, anger and feelings of constant defeat. Just ask someone.
A State of Well-Being
Isn't it interesting how procrastinating takes the joy out of any task? It could be something pleasant like finishing a knitted blanket for a baby shower. I have found that when I procrastinate, the rush to complete a task is totally draining and gives very little reward. In exchange for an accomplished "job well done," I give a quick sigh of relief and just think "thank goodness that's over with." I have missed the joy and well-earned gratification in doing something in a well-timed manner, and with leisure to give whatever the chore all of my skill, excellence or time. It's almost exhilarating when I push towards something, especially when complicated or difficult and get it done in a timely manner!
Looking Even Further
I have often heard elderly people reminisce about what they regretted not getting accomplished in their lifetime. Many of them were extremely gifted and intelligent. They had much to offer society and the world.
For whatever reason, they did not extend their borders; always thought that tomorrow, next week, month or year would be soon enough. Some didn't live long enough to get it started, let alone done. What gift, talent, idea or invention lied dormant within them?
On a spiritual note, how many people have never decided on where they would spend eternity? Here, I will use the word "dangerous." We do have a choice. There are many views on Heaven and Hell. How many of us have cared enough to find out? Each morning marks fresh and new opportunity and each evening the sun goes down on it all. Time moves so swiftly and opportunities breeze past us at an amazing pace.
For those who are superstitious, they feel that making out a Will brings about their demise sooner. Where one spends eternity calls for a much weightier decision. There are, indeed, so many foolish reasons to procrastinate.
Learning how to have a determined attitude is very helpful in avoiding procrastination. One step, project, and day at a time. It is important to be realistic about our patterns. I've stopped saying to myself "oh, I'll remember, start, call or write tomorrow." With today's technology there are many ways to keep note of what needs to be done in our lives.
Personally, I find using my alarm and calendar on my cell phone is very useful. Since I am retired, it's easy to let the day get away from me in doing several menial things and never getting to at least one major item.
I schedule the chore several times during the day. It might be 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Before that day is over, I make a point to at least begin what I am doing and if it is something simple such as making a doctor's appointment, I give myself a deadline on my alarm of at least one hour before the office is due to close. I don't know why procrastination is such a problem with some people.
What can also be helpful is enlisting the help of an accountability partner. It is suggested that you choose someone who will be realistic and encouraging...not someone who will play "drill Sergeant." I have a friend and former co-worker who helped me get my driver's license. Now she was a drill sergeant.! Each day I would come to work and each day she would ask me "did you make the appointment?" Not only did she remind me once, but at least 10 times a day. Each morning I would dread coming to work.
She knew I wanted to drive, but was more than a little nervous about taking the test. Finally, I made the appointment and passed the test. She's a great person to have as a friend and by the way, the word "procrastination" is not in her vocabulary. In fact, she considers it profanity!
The important factor becomes I do not condemn myself when I fail, nor do I surrender to the "enemy". I believe it takes true discipline to remain steadfast in living timely, efficient and precise lives. I had the pleasure of working for one attorney for many years with those qualities, and I always admired him.
I always tried to follow his pattern, and in the office, I had no problems. But, outside of the office it was always a struggle. Alternatively, there are some who are a little arrogant about mastering this problem and would try to make you feel guilty. I know those people, too. They say "what is the big deal about getting something done on time?" Also, some people are a little fanatical about it. They break out into hives if they overlook some small detail.
No life is perfect and there will always be unforeseen twists and curves in the process. As for myself, I'm determined to continue working on this area of my life. I am pleased to say I have improved. I intend to be a regular contributor to Hubpages. Mainstream is the gauge I'm pressing for in every area of my life and what it involves.
I want to stand back and view excellence in my finished project and experience the enjoyment of doing almost anything... without frustration, defeat or hives!