Often I get to the end of a week and I have completed the things that I had to do—my job, enough laundry so that I don’t run out of clothes, enough cleaning so that the house isn’t a total wreck, etc. But I find that I didn’t get to the things that I want to do. These things aren’t things that have to get done but I’d like to do them nonetheless. These are the extras in life. They aren’t mandatory but they are often important to my soul. I think that everyone has some things that they want to do but don’t necessarily have to do. It could be creating art, playing music, sewing, baking, writing poetry, etc. If something is coming to your mind right now, that’s your thing. However, these things are also the things that are procrastinated the most.
In my recent article, 7 Reasons to Kick Laziness to the Curb, I explored some biblical reasons why too much laziness is wrong. Procrastination is very similar to laziness but not exactly the same. Laziness is a refusal to do things but procrastination is more of a feeling of desperately wanting to do something but just not getting started.
I feel that there are three reasons why I procrastinate.
1. I’m feeling fearful. I often don’t do something because I’m afraid that the results won’t turn out the way I want them to.
2. I’m feeling unready. I don’t feel like I’m smart enough, good enough, or prepared enough for the task.
3. I’m feeling that there isn’t enough time. Life’s everyday tasks continually get in the way of things that I want to accomplish.
Here are the 6 things guaranteed to help you stop procrastinating, if you remember and follow them:
Action over feelings: The ultimate answer is to all three of these reasons is not to go by how I feel. I may feel those feelings but I don’t have to and shouldn’t live by them. Waiting and procrastinating equals passive living. I’m waiting for some outside force to move me pass my fear and towards action. Taking action (even one small step) despite my feelings is the only real way to move forward.
Fear is not from God: If I am feeling fearful, I can remember that God didn’t give me a spirit of fear or timidity. So, any fearful feelings shouldn’t be an excuse to not do something. God did however give me a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline and this gives me every reason to go ahead and try (2 Timothy 1:7).
Learn as I go: If I’m feeling like I’m not ready, I need to remember that I’ll probably never feel like I’m ready. What I’m actually doing is trying to learn as much about my destination as I can before I take steps forward. It’s okay if I learn a little bit beforehand if it helps me to go forward. But I can’t get stuck in the learning stage. Most learning happens in the midst of doing anyway. By faith, Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land. He went without knowing where he was ultimately going (Hebrews 11:8). Trusting God and learning as I go is the best choice.
My life is a vapor: If I’m feeling like there simply isn’t enough time to do such-in-such and I can do it later, I’m not remembering that tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. Life speeds by fast and I don’t know how many tomorrows there will be. Even when tomorrows come, I don’t know what I’ll be dealing with then. I can only really see today (James 4:13-16). Therefore, I need to make the most of today and take as many action steps as possible (even if they’re little ones).
Give it a deadline: If I want to get something done, the best way to do it is to give it a measurable deadline. I can’t usually find a lot of available time; I have to make myself do the thing. One of the best ways to make sure that I do that is to set a firm deadline. It also helps to tell someone else about my firm deadline because then I feel like I’d be disappointing someone besides me if I don’t get around to it.
Small steps are okay: I also need to remember that a little each day adds up over time. I may not find hours to work on something but I can usually find twenty to thirty minutes if I try. And… thirty minutes per day is about thirty hours per month and that is a lot of time.
I also need to remember that it is sin to know what I ought to do and then not do it (James 4:17). And that is the definition of procrastination—to know and not do.
Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write things that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk.com. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at www.jenniferheeren.com.