I’ll just write this post a little later… WAIT! I’m just kidding. But it sounds familiar doesn’t it? It certainly does in my world.
For years and years I put everything off until the absolute possible last minute. And if I’m being honest, often times much too late. Costing me countless problems like late fees and arguments with friends and family. Eventually it caught up with me because my children learned this same bad habit.
Time to turn the tables! Here are 3 of the top 3 excuses that procrastinators often use and immediate ways to combat them.
“I’m too tired.”
First of all, are you? Honestly? Are you tired or are you bored? Ask yourself that every time you use this excuse. If you truly are tired then this isn’t an excuse, it is a legit reason! But no worries – I have the solution. If it is just boredom though, then you are using this as an excuse and the only true way to fix that is simple. Just stop. Seriously. If you are bored and just don’t want to do whatever it is you are putting off then you should take a page from the old Nike slogan and just do it!
If you are truly sleepy, then here are a couple of solutions:
- Take a power nap! They are the best! It is amazing what 20 minutes of snoozing can do to revive your energy!
- Drink a big glass of water! Something about the cool water moving through you jolts your system with a little restart.
- If you don’t have a full face of makeup, you can splash a little cool water on your face. I just run my hands under the cool water and then rub them on my face. Works like magic! *Admittedly I only do this one first thing in the morning. Once my makeup goes on this one is off the table. 😉
- And finally, the most important, try and get on some sort of regular sleep schedule. When your body gets the right amount of rest you’ll wake up feeling ready to go. But for many, this just isn’t an option. So you need to find your magic number. How many hours of sleep does your body need to get its full charge? It is not the same for everyone. I don’t care what Dr. So-in-so says. In my 20’s my magic number was 3! I’m still not sure how I did that. But my magic number is currently 6. I need 6 hours of sleep a night. Too little and I’m doomed to a couple of cat naps during the day. Too much and I’m groggy and lethargic all day. But 6 hours and I’m good to go! And no matter what time you actually go to sleep if you try and sleep the same number of hours each day your body usually takes the hint and will let you know if that number of hours works for you.
The next excuse procrastinators use all the time is,
“I have plenty of time.”
My answer? Plenty of time for what? We only have so much time. I’m sure you’ve heard “Why put off today what I can do tomorrow?”, but again I argue, “Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?
For example, you decide to wait to pay your electric bill because you get paid one more time before it is due. Why? Why not just pay it now? It’s one thing if you need to use money you have now for other bills or an emergency. But if you are waiting to pay the bill until the last minute simply because it isn’t due until then, you are opening the door to a ton of bad juju. If at that last minute you aren’t able to pay the bill because of an actual emergency, then you have to worry about late fees, disconnections (this means no electricity – no cable – no charging your cell phone), reconnection fees, etc. Not to mention the embarrassment you have to face if your friends find out your electricity got shut off. Just pay it!
So whether it is a utility bill, a school assignment, your expense reimbursement form, or washing the dishes. As much as you don’t want to take the time to do it right now, just imagine the peace you’ll have when you don’t have to worry about getting it done at the last minute.
I like to use the “cooking dinner” example. When I cook dinner, I wash every dish I use during the process as soon as I am through using it. Or I’ll put it in the sink until I’m at a waiting point in the recipe and wash the ones I’ve used so far. Then when dinner is done, I can make my plate and eat and I don’t have to worry about a mountain-esque pile of dishes in my sink to wash after I’ve had dinner. I mean… what if I made smothered pork chops with mashed potatoes, corn, and steamed vegetables?! (I just made that last night in my Instant Pot so it’s still on my mind.) Who wants to stand up at the sink for 20 minutes after your belly is full of all that yummyness?!
The third most common reason:
“There is just so much do to…. ugh.”￼
I’ve used a lot of procrastination excuses in my time, but this one was my #1.
There is a solution! Easy Peasy!
First of all, it depends on what this thing is. If it is something that someone else can do or help with – LET THEM!! Delegate is NOT a dirty word.
For the first 6 months our resale shop was open, I did just about everything by myself. My husband helped with the super heavy lifting and some of the work with power tools when we were refurbishing furniture. But aside from his help I was pretty much a one man …eh, woman show. And it was catching up to me quick. There was just soooooooo much to do. Before long I was buried by odds and ends, antiques, collectibles, crafts, and TONS of office work to do. Not to mention keeping up with all of our online sales.
I had vendors and friends and family offer to help several times. It was easy to see I was taking on too much – to everyone but me. I just wanted to do it all. I wanted to make sure it was perfect. But guess what?! It can’t be perfect if it never gets done!!
One day a vendor (vendor then, friend now) walked in and we chatted for a while. She brought me lunch and I didn’t get a dang thing done all day. I left feeling a bit stressed that I hadn’t done anything all day. I ate dinner and got in bed and the second I was comfortable, I realized something. I was…. well, comfortable! Both literally and figuratively. Mind, body, and soul. I didn’t realize how much I needed that outlet. How much I needed that girl time. To just let loose and relax. I’d been so overwhelmed with everything I had to do and putting off 27 things so I could work on another – that I forgot about me!!
I know what you are thinking. This is supposed to be a post about not putting things off. I get it. Just hang on, you’ll see my point in a minute.
The next day she showed up again. This time no lunch, just came in and started chatting. The day before during our talks I had mentioned some of the ideas I was thinking about doing for the shop. One of them was to get my Christmas tree in the front window taken down (it was already the beginning of January) and set up the area for Valentine’s Day. This day she asked me if she could take my tree down for me. I was knee deep in end-of-month AND end-of-year reports and I couldn’t imagine that she couldn’t handle putting away a few ornaments and stuffing the tree back in the box. So I said sure.
For hours we worked together and chatted. By the end of the day my tree was down, ornaments were put away and much of my other Christmas decor was put away. And much nicer, nearer, and more organized than I would have “had the time” to do. I again went to bed that night feeling happily comfortable.
Every day for weeks she just came in and helped. The more she did the better I felt. It became very easy to let go of things. I found myself coming up with new and exciting, fun ideas because I wasn’t so bound by time anymore.
At first it was very hard to let her help because I wanted to do it all myself and I felt very bad about her “working” at my store and I just didn’t have the funds to have an employee. However, she was going through some personal things and being at the shop and doing things helped keep her mind off them and every now and then I would give her little trinkets we found on our sourcing trips for the shop. At first she wouldn’t accept them, but when I explained it was my little way of showing how much I appreciated her help, she finally accepted.
Had I never given in and let her take some of the small tasks off my plate – I would probably still have a Christmas Tree in my front window. And I would still feel very stressed and overwhelmed. It is ok to let someone take a little off your plate. As Elsa from Disney’s Frozen says, “Let it go, Let it go”. 😀
That first day I did procrastinate, but not intentionally. I was so relaxed I wasn’t thinking about the ridiculous task list I had going on in the back of my head. And when I finally let her help, we got so much more done that a weight was lifted off my shoulders that I didn’t even realize was weighing me down.
But I digress, sometimes you can’t share your workload. Sometimes you are the only one who can do it. So take baby steps.
One trick I use when I have a lot of tasks to do is the 5 minute rule. Now first let me say without my Apple Watch I would never have thought about this. But you don’t have to use an Apple Watch. You can use your phone or just keep an eye on the time.
The 5 minute rule is simple. I make a list of all the things I need to accomplish or work on. I number them in the order that I wrote them. Then I start a 5 minute timer and work on #1 on the list for 5 minutes. When my timer goes off, I stop. I check the list for #2 and reset the timer and work on the second thing on the list.
This is why I like to use my Apple Watch. It sends a little buzz to my arm when my time is up. You can just pick up a timer at your local dollar store. It’ll work just fine. I like this one too!
If I had 6 things to work on, on my list and spent 2 hours working on them, that is 20 minutes on each chore. It helps break up the monotony of just working on one thing for what feels like forever and when you are all done you have accomplished several small tasks instead of just one. Seeing the progress is what really motivates me!
I used this method as a teenager to clean my room. I would split my room into 6 sections and work around them. It worked like magic!
If you are working on a school project or something and you can’t split your project up in 6 parts, then work for 15 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. Play on your phone or read a book. But set a timer and when it goes off, your done son! Get back to work! When your 2 hours is up you’ll have worked an hour and a half on your project and destroyed 3 levels of candy crush!! #Sweet
So, first decide if your reason for putting something off is a true reason or an excuse. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that a reason and excuse are the same thing. There are things that sound like true reasons on the surface but are actually just excuses.
“I’m tired” – so take a cat nap.
“I have plenty of time” – Great! Use the time to get it done, then reward yourself!
“It’s too overwhelming” – get help or take baby steps. Remember the 5 minute rule yo!
No matter your reason there is a way to work around it. There is always a way around it. Ultimately, just do it!!!
Got tips for how you’ve overcome procrastination? Can’t decide if your reason is really an excuse for procrastinating? Comment below!