If you’ve visited The Nest at all, you probably know by now that my sense of humor is a little weird. So it won’t surprise you to know that the title of this article makes me smile as I picture Arnold Schwartzeneggar, saying in his heavy accent, “I’ll be back…someday.” Yes, I know it’s silly, but maybe it will tickle a few of you out there who share my warped sense of humor. If you don’t find it funny, please don’t stop reading — I do plan to get more serious in the rest of this article.
Being a procrastinator is definitely no laughing matter. It adds a great deal of stress to life when a person lives from deadline to deadline, wasting precious time until a job or task absolutely has to be done. I’ve been gradually learning from my husband, Gary, over the past twelve years. When he farmed he thought ahead and did many things before they had to be done. I’m sure maintaining the farm equipment saved him time and expenses he would have had to spend on repairs. As he’s been attending college and seminary, I’ve watched as he works on his reading assignments and research papers in advance of when they are due. Oh, he has gotten burned a couple of times when a deadline was extended or an assignment was changed, but usually it was very good to have things checked off the syllabus and ready to turn in on time. I, on the other hand, have been becoming more and more aware of the fact that I’m often a terrible procrastinator. I’ve been very stressed out as I leave a project until the last minute or miss a deadline altogether. A recent example: I have had two receipts from Sam’s Club in my purse. I knew I had one month from May 25 to request my rebate checks, so on Friday, June 21 I finally went to the library and used their computer to get on line. I had a few problems getting set up at Sam’s website and I also realized that one receipt was dated May 13 so I was afraid I had missed the deadline. After a couple of days of horsing around, I finally finished the process for getting $25 in rebates – just before the deadline. The rebate process was simple, but it took time. I could have done it on May 26 and gotten both of my rebates without any anxiety – but instead I waited, almost missed out on $25, and felt stress from time to time when I saw the receipts in my purse and mentally told myself, “Oh, I have to remember to do that by June 25.”
Have you gotten into the bad habit of procrastinating, too? Maybe you’ve done some of these things:
· Found yourself frantically wrapping a present and signing a card right before going to a birthday party.
· Wrapped presents until late at night on Christmas Eve.
· Had to stay home instead of going out on a date with your spouse because you waited too long to start looking for a babysitter.
· Sent out Christmas letters in January.
· Stayed up packing and cleaning the house until one a.m. the night before leaving on vacation.
· Finished typing a school paper minutes before it was due.
· Washed bowls before breakfast while your children waited at the table with cereal boxes poised and ready.
I’ve done all of those things at one time or another, plus many more. Why do we procrastinate? I suppose there are different reasons for each procrastinator, but some common explanations might include:
· Becoming so busy that we get overwhelmed and feel unable to stay ahead of everything.
· Waiting until the last minute because we are afraid we’ll have to do something over if we do it too early.
· Maybe the biggest reason is perfectionism. We want to do something perfectly, and since we know we can’t, we worry about it and we wait until the last minute. Then we have a good excuse for not achieving perfection. “I just didn’t have time.”
In Ecclesiastes 3:1 the Bible says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” I believe God wants us to live with peace in our hearts – not anxiety and stress. One of the ways to feel more of God’s peace is to learn to let go of perfectionism and stop procrastinating.
We need to practice listening to the Holy Spirit as we live each day. He will show us what season we should be in and what we should be spending our time on. Maybe there are activities in our lives which we need to stop. Working on worthwhile pursuits in a timely manner will bring peace and fulfillment into our lives and hearts.
I started to update The Robyn’s Nest at least five times in the last nine months. Something always kept me from finishing and I ended up quitting before I got very far. Maybe it was OK to take a break from writing, but since I felt like I should be updating The Nest each month, I didn’t truly enjoy my “break”. I wondered if anyone was checking to see if I was updating the site. The thought “I should really update The Nest one of these days” kept nagging in the back of my mind. The intentions were there, but I didn’t act on those feelings when I had them. I procrastinated.
In spite of continuing to ignore The Robyn’s Nest, I do feel like I became more aware of my procrastinating ways and started to change, little by little. Fly lady’s web site (http://www.flylady.net) was very instrumental in encouraging me to change. Every Wednesday is anti-procrastination day, and an e-mail reminds me to do something I’ve put off for too long. On many Wednesdays I did just that and felt good about finally doing something I had neglected.
The last couple of trips we’ve taken, I have finished packing a little earlier and haven’t had to stay up until the wee hours of the morning.
I’ve started to get my house in order, and I’m seeing that it’s time to stop procrastinating when it comes to training, teaching, and truly loving my children. We do procrastinate in those areas sometimes, you know. We fear the effort it will take to train our children, or the pain that may come if we love “too deeply” and are rejected or hurt by someone.
We can even procrastinate sometimes when it comes to dealing with our anger toward our children. We may deny we have a problem, or we tell ourselves it’s not too bad. We may know that the problem is huge, but we may feel hopeless to change, or afraid of the work it may take to get rid of our intense anger. I guess that’s one thing I did during the past months — I finally made some significant progress in the area of emotions, mood swings, and other related problems. It’s kind of a long story. I’ll tell you about it in a future article…someday.
© Robyn Mulder 2002, therobynsnest.org