Quantum Happiness Series- Prune procrastination

“To think too long about doing a thing, often becomes its undoing.”
—Eva Young


Woman weeding garden - how to prune procrastination
Here is the weed in your goal garden.

 The enemy of prioritizing is procrastination, and it takes many forms.

Knocking C’s off your priority list is a prime example of procrastination, easily justifiable because, “Those things must be done too.”

Believe me, I know all the excuses. But the truth is, if I choose to spend valuable hours washing and grooming the dog before filing my taxes on the April 15th deadline, I’ve set myself up for an evening fueled by toxic stress, caffeine, and sugar.

Perfectionism is an ideal that doesn’t exist. We can approach perfection, but it is like trying to hit a moving target. The better something gets, the higher the standard becomes.

I recently heard a story about two coworkers who both wanted to start their own businesses. One immediately got started making products and networking while the other began carefully crafting a logo. Six months later the first entrepreneur had created a product, a website, and made her first sales while her coworker was still designing the prefect logo.

While some tasks deserve a high degree of perfection and must be carefully crafted and detailed, others just need to be done. The first step is not only the hardest, but also the stickiest. Getting bogged down in those tiny details takes our eyes off the larger goal. Planting priorities and tending to them carefully keeps us out of the weeds of procrastination.

For example, I love self-checkout at the grocery store. I bring my own bags and lovingly separate fruits and veggies, breads and snacks, and cold items (yes, I have cold storage bags too), etc. When I have nothing else on my priority list, I can spend a couple of happy hours buying and bagging my groceries. However, when my day requires more than a successful trip to the grocery store, I must restrain the urge to get bogged down in the bagging process and get my A’s in gear.

Apathy, another destructive form of procrastination, is the attitude,

“If I can’t do everything, I won’t do anything.”

It’s easy to fall under apathy’s spell, especially when you’ve been procrastinating and things are piled up around your ears, both literally and figuratively.

Perhaps the dishes and laundry are piling up, the car is out of gas, the baby missed her shots, the taxes need to be filed, three projects are due at work, and there’s nothing for dinner. The easiest way to handle the situation may be pouring a glass of wine, turning on the television, and ordering pizza. 

However, that just digs the hole deeper. When you wake up tomorrow with a headache and dry mouth, you still won’t have clean work clothes, and all those other chores will be right there passively draining you of valuable energy, roots of that great twining vine ennui.

Indecision, much like apathy, is a passive yet destructive form of procrastination. Jumping from one task to another is not productive. If there is so much to choose from that you can’t decide what to do first, prioritize your tasks to determine where to start and get started. Work A’s off. Then move on to the B’s.

If you are swamped with tasks, set a time limit for each one, since many things have a way of expanding to fill the time we allow them. 

Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but serves no real purpose other than wasting valuable time and energy. Worry feeds indecision and indecision feeds worry, so ditch them both in favor of action. Determine the steps that need to be taken and get started. Do something, and if it doesn’t work, do something else.

Fear is another common cause of procrastination.  But remember whether we feel fear or excitement is a matter of simple translation. It’s energy in its purest form, so embrace the feeling of excitement and awareness and get on with the task at hand.

For instance, some people are terrified of public speaking while others embrace it. They are all experiencing the same physical and physiological effects but interpreting them differently. Regardless of the interpretation, these physical and physiological changes make us feel awake and alive instead of bored.

The first time I taught a class of my own, I was terrified. I actually had to make an excuse, leave the classroom, run to the restroom, and throw up. After a few deep breaths and some cool water on the back of my neck, I returned and persevered. I eventually came to enjoy that surge of excitement and adrenaline before speaking to a group, but it is powerful, scary stuff and requires patience, self-control, and discipline to master.

Laziness and fear represent two sides of the same coin. Laziness is not an incurable condition, but instead a passive reaction to fear.

My friend once told her husband, “Of course I want to live in a clean house. I just don’t want to clean it.”

I’m pretty sure the problem was not a burning desire to watch television but instead an unconscious fear that she would not be successful in keeping the house clean. Therefore, she refused to try.

Fear often unknowingly traps us on the couch, but we blame it on being lazy. Knowing that we need to be doing something but refusing to do so, creates passive stress and generates toxic, negative energy that fuels ennui.

Resignation is a passive reaction to stress, which leads to lives of quiet desperation and is possibly the most frightening of all.

When in the grip of resignation, a.k.a. “learned helplessness syndrome,” we think,

“Life just is what it is,”

as we trudge through our days. But that’s not what it is at all. That’s what we have been conditioned to believe it is.

The first step to solving any problem is identifying the problem, so when resignation rears its ugly head, remember, you are the leader of your life. If changes need to be made, it is your responsibility to uncover them and lead the situation to a resolution that is agreeable to you.

Paralyzed by procrastination
So, if you find yourself paralyzed by procrastination, evaluate the task:

·        Does it support your goals or someone else’s?

o   If it does not support your goals, can you delegate it?

o   Can you delete it altogether?

·        What’s the first step, the second, the third…?

·        What timeline can you assign to it?

·        What can you do about it today? Tomorrow?

What's the antidote to worry

Engagement exercise:
List your three favorite forms of procrastination, determine their causes and brainstorm ways to prevent them from slowing you down.

Procrastination 1. _________________________________________________


Prevention: ______________________________________________________

Procrastination 2. _________________________________________________

Cause: ___________________________________________________________


Procrastination 3.__________________________________________________

Cause: ___________________________________________________________

Prevention: _______________________________________________________

Photo by Anthony Wade on Unsplash