We always hear how bad it is to procrastinate. Is it really bad? Can it be good?
Procrastinating is GOOD when …
You prioritize in order to get the important and urgent things finished first. (Thanks Dr. Stephen Covey!)
While my father lived in our home in California, there were times when so many tasks demanded our attention at once, my husband and I were only able to attend to the urgent ones. Time I scheduled to accomplish my work kept moving to that ethereal time in the future.
Sometimes, we procrastinated a day or two with helping my father take a shower. Harmless enough.
Other times, neither of us wanted to open an envelope from a lawyer. Since the wheels of justice turn slowly, this wasn’t too bad, either.
We even procrastinated reviewing the CPA’s accounting of my father’s assets. Neither of us wanted to sacrifice yet more of our lives to the hours it took to review each line item with a fine-tooth comb.
Anything that didn’t directly have to do with my father’s healthcare raised my stress level. To maintain some level of sanity, I set it aside to deal with it later.
Boy, I’m beginning to sound like my father!
He’d say, “Put it over there. I’ll decide on it later.”
Setting something aside temporarily–especially, one that causes stress can actually be more productive in the long run.
When you wait to accomplish something, the length of time you’ve distanced yourself from the task gives you a better view of the forest.
If you’re David, you’ll say, “Leave it. It might go away.”
My English neighbor confesses, “I get around to doing it. The work always gets done, even though [my husband] hates it when I don’t do it straight away.”
I partially agree.
Reviewing a stack of decade-old investment magazines–how’s that for procrastination?–I was able to get a view of the forest. Even though, David repeated, “Toss ’em,” I couldn’t. I reviewed old articles with confident knowledge of how the future would unfold. Having invested my time, I can better weigh the “promises” published in investment news today. One needs a lifetime of trials to unveil the learning I accomplished over a couple years! Similarly, reading older articles on caregiving, dementia, and Alzheimer’s gives me a state of the art perspective–where we’ve been and where we’re going. For additional benefits, see bullet points at the end.
Procrastinating is BAD when …
You risk facing Mount Everest instead of a bunny hill.
Are you surrounded by piles you still need to get through?
Each time we add another magazine, book, article, or letter to our “read later” pile, it grows–first an inch then another; until we’re faced with a foot-sized pile that reproduces all by itself! When we’re expecting company, we throw these piles in a box then another, until we need to rent a storage locker for all our boxes. Soon we’re facing Mt. Everest!
How many of us can tackle Mt. Everest?
Instead of that bunny hill, we’re faced with constant toxic reminders of our piles, boxes, and the storage locker rental fees. We stop participating in social activities because we feel pressured to take care of things. Eventually, we’re paralyzed by our burden after procrastinating all those years.
I know this first hand.
After forty years of not taking time each week to make a dent in my accumulated paperwork–books, magazines, and clippings, I faced Mt. Whitney.
I began tackling the piles and boxes because I knew I had a better chance climbing Mt. Whitney than I did, Mt. Everest. It’s painfully slow going and the progress is not immediately noticeable. Common sense tells me if I tackle the mail soon after it arrives and continue to do a little more each evening instead of watching TV, the piles will get smaller and the boxes emptier.
This physical clearing out–your piles of overwhelming paperwork (I call this poop) will help you feel lighter and more energized when facing the world. Nothing is worse than being constipated by paperwork!
Besides, when you take time to get through your piles (and not just toss them), you’ll learn valuable lessons.
- When someone offers you something for “free” it really isn’t.
Unless you really need it, it will cost you time and place.
Where do I put it until I can make time for it?
- You can enjoy the space you’ve cleared out.
There’s less to dust and you can walk right up to your windows instead of stretching to peer over the boxes stored beneath them.
- You have more time to spend with people instead of things.
When you lie on your deathbed, people will be there to comfort you, not your things.
Procrastinating is especially BAD when …
You lose out on a MAJOR LIFE OPPORTUNITY because you waited a week, a month, and then a half-year. Be sure to read the story, Procrastination – A Major Regret that will be posted next week.
Brenda Avadian, MA