If procrastination was a sport, I would be reigning world champion. I would have millions of dollars, product endorsement deals, and my own clothing line of things one should wear while procrastinating.
But procrastination is not yet a sport. It’s more of a problem and it’s a problem many of us have. I know this because I had breakfast with some friends this morning and one of them also has this problem. Based on this morning’s research, I’ve concluded that it’s almost epidemic.
Here’s how procrastination often works for me. See if you can relate.
Two years ago I bought a small can of white trim paint.
I wanted to touch up the trim in my apartment. It was really bugging me and I knew that if I just swiped some paint on it, it would freshen the whole place up, resulting in happiness for me and admiring looks from future guests. It is probably one of the easiest home improvement jobs one can do. I wouldn’t even have to break a sweat. However, it did involve more steps than I was prepared to commit to at that moment. I would have to open the can, find my small trim paintbrush, and find a drop cloth to put down. And I would have to wash my paintbrush when I was finished. I was exhausted just thinking about it but I was prepared to get started anyway.
I went into my spare bedroom walk-in closet to find my paintbrush and was reminded what a disaster that closet was. I had been procrastinating for a year about cleaning it. I decided I should pull everything out of the closet and organize all the bins. I spent the rest of the day doing just that. It took hours. I was covered in glitter, managed to get a dead fly in my hair, and I wrenched my back hauling those bins around. The closet was clean, organized, and I had found my paintbrush. I went back into the living room and there was my little can of trim paint sitting on the floor, ready for me to begin painting. It was getting late and I needed a shower to remove the glitter and the dead fly so the trim painting would have to wait.
I almost painted my trim several times over the last two years. But then I didn’t. Something else always came up for me to do instead. I got a lot accomplished by not painting my trim.
Then last winter it finally happened. I woke up one morning to a blinding snowstorm. I dug my way to the front of the house and discovered my car was going nowhere. I declared it a snow day and went inside, excited to finally have a free day to get all my paperwork and receipts in order. It was almost time to do my taxes and this was a huge job that I dreaded every year. Today was the day. It was the perfect opportunity…
…to finally paint the trim.
That was when I discovered the secret to overcoming procrastination. The minute you know you have something you need to do, like cleaning your cupboards or alphabetizing your sock drawer, decide immediately not to do it. Decide instead to do another job, say canning some vegetables or cleaning up the glitter and dead flies from your walk-in closet. Next thing you know you’ll have a sock drawer neatly arranged alphabetically. Your world will be well-ordered and you’ll save hours choosing the right socks in the morning.
That’s how I wrote this blog post. I knew I needed to come up with an idea and just get it done so instead I decided to devote today to working on my novel. It worked like a charm.
Well, I’m off to clean out my shoe cupboard. This is what it currently looks like and it can’t wait any longer. (wink, wink)
Three hours later….
Now I just have to come up with something new to not do so I can get my shoe closet organized.