You’ve got a lot to get done and you’re probably feeling like there’s not enough time to do it all. At least some days. Or if you’re anything like me, more days than you care to admit.
Perhaps you’re putting off housework, business tasks, personal pursuits, family time or that often last-on-the-list “me time’. And you’re likely putting off different things for different reasons. Some things because it’s just not that enjoyable (is cleaning the bathroom one for you too?). You may be procrastinating on something that will move you forward magnificently in your work or in your personal life, but it will push you outside your comfort zone.
Then there is the ever present issue of sincerely meaning to get to that ‘thing’ but it’s now the end of the day and you’re wondering how you didn’t do that thing again today! (e.g. a phone call, games with the kids, reading that book, mopping the floor, writing a blog post, the short 20 minute walk, did anyone check on the chickens!!, etc, etc.)
Procrastination is a common occurrence for good reason. It’s part of our human-ness. It’s a part that is generally nurtured deeply during childhood and then we use our adult life actively weeding out the deep roots of putting things off. With maturity and good old discipline you can get the procrastination habit under control. You can even get to the point where you’re really well-trained and reaping the sweet benefits of getting done what matters.
As the Good Word tells us:
With God and these 5 P’s to focus on, you’re well on your way to being the disciplined non-procrastinator that God created you to be.
Where Your Focus Goes...
What I see as the most harmful result of procrastinating is the frustration that is often felt from letting ourselves down. Then the frustration will result in other bad habits that interfere with us moving forward, like indulging in excessive screen time, being complacent in our lives by not stretching ourselves, or reverting to (or increasing) unhealthy activities.
So when I encourage others (and myself) to get done what matters and stop putting stuff off, I use the technique of shifting focus. When you are feeling frustrated or noticing that you’re filling your time with meaningless activities you need to put your focus on doing something meaningful. It doesn’t have to be directly related to what your are actually procrastinating on yet it can lead you to improving those areas of your life just by experiencing your greatness in other capacities.
So, here are 5 areas that you can focus on to bring some meaning to your day that will ideally get you to be taking on those specific things you’ve been procrastinating about.
First P - PEOPLE
People matter most.
Strengthening relationships with people, helping people, meeting like-minded people and overall, being around people that bring positive experiences to your life will give your mind the improved perspective it needs.
Connect with people, in person or through phone calls; not through texting or other electronic avenues, as we can feel more disconnected by these communication methods if there isn’t a solid foundational relationship already. Connect with people for the sole purpose of encouraging them, uplifting them and showing genuine kindness. If you don’t have much support in your own household to move forward on what matters then this P will be one of the essentials for you. When you lift others up you feel renewed and energized to do what’s important to you.
Second P - PEACE
Feel at peace with however you are at the moment. If you feel overwhelmed, guilt or disappointment because of not getting things done then your lack of peace will be holding you back even more. We rarely achieve great tasks when we’re meditating on negative thoughts about ourselves or others.
Our most powerful sense of peace comes from the Holy Spirit. Connect with your creator by reading the bible, meditating on scripture (I especially like Romans 15:13, but any verse that is special to you will be good) or just simply sitting in stillness and focusing on your breath moving in and out of your body.
These aren’t that effective as peace providers if just done once in a while (although you may start out that way). Your goal should be to consistently take action to bring more peace into your days. When you make these a regular part of your life you’ll find the strength of discipline grow stronger and stronger. (As 2 Timothy 1:7 explains)
Third P - PASSION
With passionate persistence you’ll move past the challenges and overcome any obstacle to reach your goals. Back your to-do’s with a passion that will drive you onward and you’ll find that you’re making the time for the most mundane, yet necessary, tasks that move you forward.
If you haven’t identified the passion, purpose or vision for your life yet, then check out my short video series Uncover Your Vision and Purpose where you’ll get video training and worksheets to uncover the unique vision for the life you’re meant to live.
Fourth and Fifth P -PURPOSEFUL PLANNING
We’ll finish off with a double P to describe some organizational tactics that will put procrastination to the back burner.
As a bit of a free spirit myself, I thought I was much happier to take life as it comes and do as little planning as possible. I have now grown to cherish my planning time that helps me get more things done, but I still have to be very intentional in taking that extra step. This does not come easy for me.
I’ve experimented with many different methods going from regimented scheduling where I planned every part of my life hour by hour to completely abandoning a plan for any part of my life. Neither worked very well for me.
Now I’m a bit more relaxed in a process that works for me – at least for the time being – using a combination of a to-do list and a ‘daily highlights’ schedule. I print out a weekly schedule with hourly blocks and usually pencil in my homeschooling time and business tasks. I’ve also written in some of my personal pursuits or homemaker to-do’s when I’ve been putting something off for a bit too long.
In the morning I take 5 or 10 minutes to write down what I purpose to get done that day. I don’t always follow my plan; I usually get off my timing and sometimes don’t even get stared on the odd task. Oh well, I just move that over to the next day.
This approach also gives me the opportunity to track my activities, making note on my weekly schedule what I actually did in the day if it was much different than what I initially wrote. I’ve found this quite helpful to not get overwhelmed and frustrated at the end of the day because I I hadn’t done many things that I thought I would, yet I was busy with one thing after the other. Where did the day go?!
It was hard to remember what I did and for how long when I was reflecting with a frustrated mood at the end of the day. Now I make a quick note on my schedule and see the value that was in my day (or where I spent too much time with something not so important) and have become more aware of whether or not I was covering priorities.
I share my purposeful planning experience with you to show you one possible way to organize and prioritize your time. Over the years I’ve learnt and tried various different methods to plan my life and currently use a mix of a few different techniques I’ve learned. I suggest that you experiment with planning on purpose to discover the right fit for you, for this season of your life.
Procrastination Doesn't End Here
I hope I’ve provided a fresh perspective on procrastination.
Don’t focus on what you’re putting off, on how you haven’t taken that courageous step or on what you haven’t lived up to. What you focus on expands.
Your field of focus determines what you find in life:
You will likely always put important stuff off for some reason or another throughout your life. What you want to get better at is not getting overwhelmed by it and not beating yourself up about it.
Just shift your focus to what you are doing or what you will do and don’t let procrastination sink in. Actually don’t even think about procrastination, just think about all those opportunities.