“Why put off until tomorrow what you can do. . .”
How would you finish that adage? If you would say “today,” well, then scroll on down, because you probably don’t have a problem with procrastination. However, if you answered “the next day,” “next week,” or even “never,” this topic is for you.
Many messies procrastinate. Some procrastination is fairly harmless, but some procrastination can get you into serious trouble. Some procrastination can lead to health hazards in your home or financial problems for yourself or your family. That type of procrastination needs to be addressed immediately, before it leads to further problems.
Why do we procrastinate? Sometimes, we procrastinate because the chore is distasteful or overwhelming. We just don’t want to scrub the base of the toilet, or clean the moldy food out of the fridge. Sometimes, we procrastinate because we don’t have the resources to do the chore right away. (Sometimes, failing to make sure you have the tools to do the job is a subtle form of procrastination.) Sometimes we procrastinate on such things as paying the bills because we don’t have the money. Sometimes we procrastinate because we think we don’t have time. And sometimes, we procrastinate just because it’s our habit.
How many times have you noticed that something in your home was out of place and told yourself, “I don’t have time to pick that up right now. I’ll get it later.” By the time “later,” rolls around, that one thing has multiplied by 20 and now the job is overwhelming!
If you’re procrastinating because you don’t think you have time, remember that in many cases, the chore is easier to do right away. Dishes are usually easier to get clean when they’re washed before the food dries on. It’s easier to keep the bathroom clean when you wipe it down every day, rather than putting off the cleaning for days on end. It’s easier to keep up on laundry when you wash, dry, and put away one to three loads at a time, rather than waiting until every piece of clothing in the house is dirty. That goes for paying bills. Putting off paying just one credit card bill a month can turn a manageable list of monthly expenses into a scary, unmanageable one. Putting off calling a creditor to arrange a different payment plan can lead to the account going to a collection agency, which won’t be nearly as nice about arranging for payment.
What should you do about procrastination? Organization helps. Putting all of your bills in the same place helps you keep track of which bills have been paid. Lists help. When you run out of cleaning tools and supplies, add them to the grocery list so you don’t forget them. If your problem is procrastinating on bill payment (for no good reason) set up automated payments from your bank account every month. You don’t have to think about it anymore.
Don’t overthink a project. Even washing a sinkful of dishes seems more and more overwhelming the more you think about it. You could spend two hours dreading the project, when the project itself only takes 15 minutes. If you’re really dreading a project, set a timer and work on it for just 15 minutes. Chances are, you’ll either be done by the time the timer goes off, or you’ll be motivated to finish.
Work on developing good habits. One goal to shoot for is to make sure the kitchen is clean every night before you go to bed. You can allow yourself to procrastinate up until bedtime, but once bedtime rolls around, you have to get the kitchen clean. You might find that you’re most motivated to clean up right after dinner, when you haven’t relaxed for the night. It sure is hard to get up after you’ve been relaxing on the couch for two or three hours.
Sometimes, you simply have to procrastinate. You might find that you have to procrastinate on certain projects or chores because of a change in your schedule, because of a new baby, because of a death in the family, or because of an illness. You have to judge for yourself whether your procrastination is justified. If it’s not hurting anyone, creating a health hazard, or putting your bills in the hands of collectors, you can probably get away with some procrastination.
Overcoming procrastination is not simple or easy. If it were, no one would procrastinate. But you can take some simple steps that will keep your procrastination from hurting yourself or someone else.