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Some Thoughts on Procrastination

procrastination

“You may delay, but time will not.”

- Benjamin Franklin

I stared at this computer screen for at least 20 minutes before I even came close to putting something on it. Then I checked my Facebook for 15 minutes and when I was finished with that, I stared at the blank screen some more. In fact, just the mentioning of Facebook has reinvigorated a desire for me to check it again (this time I was able to resist).

It’s funny how easily we can be distracted by simple thoughts when we’re afraid to continue with something or even begin something. It’s so much easier to tell ourselves that we’ll get to it eventually – and genuinely believe that we will – but we end up sweeping it under the rug.

Despite my inability to get things done without at least a little procrastination at some point during the project, my view on starting and finishing things fall in line with something Pablo Picasso once said: “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

In fact, I’m sure most of us feel this way. We all understand the importance of completing a task and we all understand that that task most likely won’t be completed unless we take the time to complete it.

Rarely do we come home to find an essay we’ve been putting off magically completed. Rarely do we go to work to discover that we have nothing to do because it’s already been done for us. Rarely does the great work get written without the writer.

Historically procrastination has been viewed as a negative thing, both theologically and societally. Though, at some points in history (particularly the aristocratically driven French culture of the 17th and 18th centuries) not doing things was considered the height of gentlemanly “pursuits.”

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 Excuses in All the Wrong Places

We procrastinators look for excuses for not doing things as often as we possibly can. These excuses range from the simplistic (i.e. “I can’t make all of these party invitations right now because I’m sick”) to the insane (i.e. “I can’t write this report that may cost me my job because I have to play with my cats all day”).

The simple fact of the matter is that whether the task is easy and unimportant or complex and very important, we usually have the time to do it or, at the very least, the ability to make the time to do it.

Stop psyching yourself out by convincing yourself that you can’t run because you don’t have the right kind of shoes or that you don’t have enough time in the day to work on that book you’ve always wanted to write. Chances are there’s a shoe store right down the street. Chances are that the reason you don’t have enough time in the day is because you spend a good chunk of it watching reruns of Friends or catching up on Game of Thrones.

So ask yourself what’s more important: What happened to Tyrion this week on my favorite show? Or…where could I be if I’d sit down to write that book?

You see, excuses are just that: excuses. It is defined as “to release from an obligation or duty.” Excuses were created to take the blame of not doing something or doing something wrong and removing it from ourselves.

We have more control over our lives than many of us like to believe and that is why we need to take the time to think and reason out how we can do things rather than stubbornly giving them up.

It’s about time we became a little more stubborn about persevering and a little less obstinate about opting out.

 

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