by Kevin Burton
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. Had some other things pop up. You know how it is.
You see these quotes everywhere, along the lines of “never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
OK, ha ha. But the BBC ran a piece on procrastination recently. (See there? In that sentence I just had to change “last week” to “recently.”)
The more I look into the topic, the more I see that psychologists say procrastination is not entirely a laughing matter.
“In psychology, it has long been believed that people who procrastinate have a faulty sense of time. While that may be true for some, more recent research suggests procrastination is linked to difficulty managing distress,” writes Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD in Psychology Today.
“While procrastinators may be trying to avoid distress, this approach can ironically cause more distress in the long run. Procrastination can lead to increased stress, health problems, and poorer performance,” Lombardo writes.
“Procrastinators tend to have more sleep issues and experience greater stressful regret than non-procrastinators. What’s more, procrastination can also hinder your self-esteem with the guilt, shame, or self-critical thoughts that can result from putting off tasks.”
So I’m doing my usual rigorous investigation and then this thought hit me clear as day: instead of just quoting what other people say about procrastination why don’t you do some of the things you’ve been putting off and write about that?
This is without question the most annoying thought I have had in the almost two-year history of producing the Page 7 blog.
Well this just turned into a two-parter, I’ll tell you that. Because I’m not ready to fess up about things on my plate left undone. Things that if they had been actual food on a literal plate, would have changed colors at least once.
In the interest of better journalism, I bet my wife will help me remember things I’ve been putting off and have successfully forgotten. All in the interest of building a better blog of course. She’s very helpful that way.
The BBC article indicated that it’s the little things that people procrastinate. That is not my experience. I have a harder time with the big projects.
A lot of magazines have tips for how to avoid procrastination. There are some common threads. One is writing lists. Now writing lists works for me but not so much on the major projects. Can’t tell you how many lists I have found with all the easier things checked off and three more complicated jobs still undone.
One other tip many sources give is avoiding distractions.
“This might seem very simple, but it is easier said than done. We are always faced with temptation, which leads to us procrastinating. So, remove it,” writes Bianca Miller Cole in Forbes Magazine. “If it means switching off your phone, or turning off your TV and music, then do it.”
Let’s just call this for what it is. Distraction equals social media.
Many sources encourage people to make big projects into several smaller ones.
“When you are faced with a big project, you might feel daunted, intimidated, or even hopeless when you look at the sheer amount of work involved,” writes Kendra Cherry on verywellmind.com. “At this point, take individual items on your list and break them down into a series of steps.”
Various sources also say you should reward yourself for getting things done. So after your dog gets a biscuit, if you’ve been a good boy or girl, give yourself a biscuit too.
OK, so we’ve agreed that the Kev as procrastinator story will come sometime, later, in a more convenient season. For now. here is some wisdom on procrastination I found on http://www.goodreads.com.
Here’s a threat on the subject stated logically by Susan Del Gatto: “If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance.”
Here’s a challenge from former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Finally here’s Dale Carnegie from his book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.”
“…the best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate with all your intelligence, all your enthusiasm, on doing today’s work superbly today. That is the only possible way you can prepare for the future.”
Aww, shut up.