How to Finally Stop Procrastinating
"The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied." Proverbs 13:4 (NRSV)
My husband and I used to laugh and say if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. Then we’d stay up all night to finish a project due the next day, or make the whole family stressed because of our stress. It wasn’t funny.
I laughed it off at the time because I didn’t really think it was a problem. Everyone procrastinates on something, I reasoned. Plus, what more could I do? The problem certainly wasn’t with me.
On the surface, there were always reasons why I couldn’t get everything done. Good, solid reasons. Like I’d taken on too much work. Or my family needs were too demanding. And the technology which should have made my life easier, actually made it harder sometimes. Who couldn’t understand that? I reassured myself.
Then faced with a deadline, I snapped at everyone, stayed up late and rushed to finish what needed to be done. Consequently, everything suffered. My family was shortchanged, my work was sub-par and I became a person I didn’t like very much.
Those issues affecting me were all legitimate. But there was still another issue afoot. One that took some soul searching to identify. And that was an internal desire for ease rather than challenge.
This truth about myself hit hard when I read Proverbs 13:4, today’s key verse: "The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied."
At first, I didn’t think this verse applied to me. How could I be lazy when I’m always busy?
In fact, I didn’t know any woman around me who was lazy. So why did we all tend to complain about not being able to get important things done?
But then it hit me, faced with a choice between two tasks, my tendency is to choose whichever seems easier. I tend to put off what’s difficult until I "feel more like it." But that day never comes because I never feel like organizing my tax information or tackling projects that highlight my weak areas.
So my days were filled, but filled with less challenging work.
And my to-do list got longer, overflowing with tasks and projects I’d much rather avoid. The crazy thing is I will even avoid good things if I think it will make me address an issue I’d rather not face … like clothes shopping and having to admit my size isn’t what it once was.
Eventually I got around to doing my work, but usually with a wrong heart, with a shadow of the quality I could produce or with so much frustration that it affected everything else. Some fabulous opportunities I just abandoned, because how could I follow a dream if I couldn’t even keep my kitchen counters clear?
I even realized I was disobedient to God in some areas. Of course, they were the hard things God asked me to do. I’d much rather obey God in the easy areas … but step out and take a risk? I’ll do that another day, thank you very much.
Sometimes an "aha" moment is exactly what we need to change. When I realized my tendency to avoid discomfort, to choose ease over challenge, I felt like I could finally address my procrastination.
Each time I caught myself thinking "I’ll do that later," I tried to identify my resistance for each task and face it. It wasn"t always easy, because my reasons for procrastinating were often complicated and overlapping. Like when my perfectionist tendencies collided with my fear of failure.
But each time I addressed my resistance, and didn’t give in to it, I got stronger. It’s just like going to the gym and lifting weights. It might hurt, but the only way to strengthen anything is to face resistance.
God’s Word did reveal a lazy tendency in me. And honestly, it’s still there. But with His help, I’m not avoiding it any more. And with His strength in me, I can face it and get more of the right things done.
Procrastination is not a label of failure. Only a sign that God’s got more work to do in me. And that is great news!
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me and seeing my potential in spite of my many weaknesses. My heart longs to follow You with abandon, but my flesh is weak. Help me trust You more as I step into areas that are uncomfortable. I need Your bravery and strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 12:11, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (NIV)
Glynnis Whitwer’s new book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, (releasing in August and available to pre-order today!) will help you get more of the right things done by facing your resistance to unpleasant tasks and overcoming them. This book will also be our next P31 Online Bible Study, kicking off in early September.
As a thank you for pre-ordering Taming the To-Do List, Glynnis has prepared a bonus PDF titled "5 Habits of Women Who Get Things Done." Click here to pre-order your copy and the first 2,000 books ordered will receive an autographed copy.
Visit Glynnis’ blog for more encouragement to overcome procrastination.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What tasks do you tend to avoid most?
What resistance are you facing for these dreaded tasks? Identify it and decide you won’t let it stop you.