The Return of the Procrastinator

     It is almost nine p.m. on April 15, 2004. Procrastinators everywhere are nervously trying to finish their tax return and get it mailed before the midnight deadline. I finally sent our tax info to our preparer back in Iowa on Monday – just late enough that we had to mail extensions in for Iowa and Michigan since the return wouldn’t be ready until after the 15th. Why do we do this? All of us know that our taxes have to be done. We could sit down in January or February and work on it, but no, we procrastinate.

      Of course, we procrastinate in other areas, too. We sometimes let library books or videos sit around after we have read or watched them, and before we know it the due date arrives with its inevitable late fees. We sometimes put off going to the grocery store until we are completely out of milk, or eggs, or toilet paper, or some other essential item. This week I found myself completely out of stamps, so I had to make a stop at the post office and wait in line to buy some (because the tax extensions had to be mailed out that day). 

     It has been over four months since I last updated The Robyn’s Nest. I have written and revised the family update at least three times…but finally I am sitting down to finish it and get it posted tonight. I was also embarrassed to find out a few weeks ago that the link to join the announcement list at Yahoo Groups was invalid. These last few months I would check every once in a while and think, “I wonder why noone is joining the list? Doesn’t anyone check out The Nest anymore? Don’t they like it?” I have corrected the link and hope to resume sending out an e-mail announcement once a month or so (whenever I update the site).

     Do you procrastinate? Does it make you feel good? I know in my own life, it doesn’t make me feel good to procrastinate. Even if I tell myself I am putting off an unpleasant task until later so I can do something fun now – there is an annoying little twitch in the back of my brain, reminding me that the dreaded task is waiting.

     I feel like I’ve said all of this before. Maybe I have, but perhaps I need to remind myself again of how useless it is to procrastinate. Doing things when they need to be done leads to freedom and true relaxation – because we know all of the important tasks in our life are finished.

     If you’re a mom, you may be thinking, “But my tasks are never finished!” I know how you feel. I have so many urgent things to do…it can be really overwhelming at times. Sometimes, I have so much to do that I just stand in my kitchen and do…nothing! Have you ever done that? (or am I the only crackpot who is immobilized by choices some days?) “Should I do the laundry? Or wash the dishes? The floor needs to be swept again. Blake really needs to learn to tie his shoes one of these days. Erin and Allie are a few days behind in their math book. Should I read aloud to Dylan? I really haven’t done that with him as often as I did with the girls…maybe he won’t learn to read until he’s ten! Oh, I guess I’ll just sit down and read this good book from the library for a few minutes until I decide what to do.” Crazy, isn’t it?

     Balance. Wisdom. Discernment. Faith. Discipline. Maturity. I think all of these characteristics and probably a few more are necessary if we ever hope to conquer our procrastination habit. Yes, we have so much to do, but realistically, we know the things that must be done first. Reading a good book for two hours and putting off something important will lead to frustration (for you and others), guilt, and stress. Doing the important task (or at least part of it) frees up your time so you can read for a while – guilt-free!

     I have improved in some areas of my life. I remember one time when I got out the vacuum and began cleaning…Erin asked me, “Who’s coming over, Mom?” I realized that I had gotten into the habit of just cleaning when someone was coming to visit us. Now I have more of a regular cleaning routine – it’s flexible, but I try to do certain jobs on a weekly basis, and my kids never ask, “Who’s coming over?” anymore. They know that certain cleaning jobs are just part of our normal routine most weeks.

     I want to encourage you to spend time regularly with God. It’s very easy to procrastinate and just leave that “task” for Sundays – we’re so busy the rest of the week. Putting off spending time with the Lord will affect our lives in so many ways. When we aren’t close to Him we lose perspective and can make so many poor choices in how we spend our time, how we think, and how we act. Spending a little time with God each day keeps our lives in balance and we can be more wise as we make decisions, interact with our families, and choose which tasks are important for us to complete.

     Ecclesiastes 3:1 says: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Let’s all stop and ask God as we go through our days: “Lord, is this the right time for me to be ________ (reading, working, eating, sleeping, etc.)? What do You want me to be doing right now?” Maybe as we learn to listen to God, we can all leave this procrastinating habit behind us and get the truly important things done.

© Robyn Mulder 2004,

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