What City Are You Like?
UEFA Euro 2008

Why I Procrastinate

I am in Minneapolis on my way to Seattle. This is the first time I have been on a plane in six weeks, a record for me this century!  With the nature of my work, however, if I am at home that means there is no income. Yet these six weeks at home were indeed the hand of God, for we have been able to get our new house in order and set up our offices.  In addition, I have so much school work to do for my August classes that there is no way I could have done it all without this time at home.  When I get back home next Tuesday, I don't go out again until July 14.  Even though money is tight, I know this time at home is in God's plans, so I am trusting Him.

I have been reflecting recently on why I have a tendency to procrastinate.  I have taught time management and have a reputation to get things done efficiently, but I have come face-to-face recently with discovering why I keep putting off certain things I must do.

The main reason is that I am a perfectionist.  There are some things I don't start because I don't believe I have enough time to do them perfectly.  Plus, I am afraid -- that's right, I am fearful -- of doing the wrong thing or doing the thing wrong, so I choose to do nothing at all, at least for the time being.  I even put this post off for a few weeks because I wasn't sure I had enough time or insight to write a good post -- no, time to write the best post possible.

I find this tendency intriguing, for when I finally decide to start, I usually finish in much less time than I expected.  What's more, I usually produce something that others say is good stuff.  So after I finish and it goes well, I ask, "Why did it take me so long to do that?"  Armed with that awareness, I still tend to repeat the process again and again.

What's the answer?  I have found that I must set deadlines for myself, telling myself I will have this or that done by June 20 (I can even obsess over whether or not June 20 is the correct deadline!).  I am also doing a bit more scheduling; I decide that even though I can't read the entire book or write the whole report, I will spend the next hour reading or writing. I haven't always done that well, choosing not to start until I can get it all done at one time.

Furthermore, I talk to myself saying, "John, the fate of the free world does not depend on this report.  It isn't for the eyes of the president.  Just do your best, but do it."  Then I make a list of what I would like or need to do today, but afterwards prioritize that list.  I am writing this blog because I put it on today's to-do list while I was on the plane, using the few minutes I have between flights to take care of this small project.

I'm not done reflecting on this question yet, for I'm discovering many interesting things about myself and how I work in the process.  The reflections must be working, however. How can I be sure?  Because I finally wrote this entry!  I'll keep you posted on what else I discover.  If you have any insights on this topic, feel free to enter them on the site where this entry is posted. 



I am also an excellent procrastinator. Much of what you said makes sence to me. I should try the deadline-thing. However I don't think it will help me as I know it is a "fake" deadline or one that can be moved...

The comments to this entry are closed.