The Secret Life Of Procrastination

I had a lightbulb moment this weekend.
I realized that every situation in my life that makes me crazy or weighs me down I created through procrastination. Every. Single. One.
I’m self-aware enough to have realized this while I created most of them. In a few cases there were some other factors at work not completely within my control, but for the most part it was all me.
How humbling.
I like to think I learn from my mistakes. So why in the world did I do this to myself?
Everyone procrastinates for different reasons. It wasn’t that hard to figure out mine. The two biggest factors for me are time and difficulty. I’ve lived long enough to have a good idea how long it takes me to do things. I get breaking down a big job into numerous little jobs, but some activities don’t lend themselves to that. For those projects, I won’t start if I know I don’t have enough time to get to the next best stopping point. I also drag my feet starting projects that I don’t have enough knowledge or skill to complete. It’s like slogging through mud to get it done.
The next biggest cause is dislike. If it’s something I don’t enjoy and really don’t want to do, I can put it off for a very long time.
After that the reasons vary by project.
I believe most of my UFOs got stalled at the difficulty stage. At work the time factor gives me the most grief. At home the dislike factor causes the most delays. Running errands and shopping for household items….boring.
I’ve made a real effort these past few months to deal with things as they come up and chip away at the backlog. Some days I do better than others. My personal productivity is directly related to whether or not I get enough sleep, and I try to go to bed early every few days to keep me honest.
I don’t have much of a method beyond The Short List. Just owning up to it all and taking responsibility for it seems to keep me motivated.
What do you do to overcome procrastination?

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3 Responses to The Secret Life Of Procrastination

  1. Sandy H says:

    As you know, I’ve been working hard on this. I tend to procrastinate for similar reasons: big, overwhelming project that I just know is going to be a headache beginning to end; or, don’t know how to do something I need to know to finish it; or just sheer boredom around mundane tasks. I’ve been trying to get in the habit of giving myself “easy wins” on a regular basis–getting stupid little stuff done that doesn’t feel like a big deal to do it, but boy does it feel good to knock it off my list. That gives me a little boost in energy to tackle the other stuff I’ve been putting off. Then I try to remind myself (on the projects I know will be a headache) how much better I’ll feel when it’s just done and out of my life. I’m in the midst of one of those projects at work right now–it’s been lingering for years (long story) and at this point, I just need it out of my head and off my desk. So it’s finish time. I’m pretty much hating every step of the process but keeping in my head how good it’ll feel to get it done and therefore no longer have to deal with it at all is keeping me going. In terms of the stuff I need to learn, I try to break it down: What do I need to learn? What steps can I take to learn it? How can I at least make progress even if I don’t finish it? And how to enjoy running errands more? Why, listen to podcasts, of course! 🙂

  2. Denise says:

    My project procrastination has led to too many UFO’s (to many to count). Every so often, when I’m in the mood to organize and clean, I take an honest look at my UFO’s.

    As the song goes…..let it go, let it go! I make a mental list of pros and cons of finishing it or if I have the passion to do so. Most of my procrastination is due to not liking something about the project. For example: fabric combination not right, poor skills (whether it be construction or a new skill I haven’t mastered), or the date for making it a gift has passed. I also struggle with time issues. I need to work on making an effort to put in small bits of time on projects without expectations. I need to just enjoy the process.

    I have been happier with current projects when my backlog is small.

  3. Shari says:

    Represent, Sister! I find myself going back to my time-honored lists. I make a list (almost) daily. I don’t necessarily cross off things as they are completed (sometimes I do), but just making the list helps get me in the frame of mind necessary to take the first step. The majority of my 60 UFOs stalled out due to the time issue, but I’ll admit the minority was due to no longer “feeling it”.

    This year I’m trying to lessen the backlog with a goal of completing 6 of the UFOs while creating 6 new quilts. Over the last 2 years I have finished each project that I started which is an achievement for me. With the UFOs, I’m finishing the ones that left me yawning and using them as gifts. Win-win!

    Time is always the biggest issue.

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