Don’t postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson. – Alan Cohen

Are you a procrastinator? Do you habitually put off doing things you know you should be doing now?

According to Wikipedia, procrastination is defined as the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time.

But there’s more to procrastination than just not getting things done. Contrary to what many people believe, procrastination is not a time management problem. Procrastination is about postponing the life you were meant to live. It keeps us from living in the moment, from living a life filled with joy.

Procrastination is about fear, and living your life from a place of fear leads to living a very small life. Procrastinators sabotage themselves, whether it’s due to a fear of failure or even a fear of success. After all, if you don’t do something, there won’t be any consequences, either, be they good or bad. Procrastinators tend to be unable to make decisions, which allows them to avoid responsibility for the outcome of any given situation.

If you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions, here’s how you can overcome procrastination. And when you do, I’ll bet  you anything you’ll feel happier and lighter.

Prioritize. If you feel like you have too much on your plate, take one small step right now. Rather than shuffling papers from one side of your desk to the other, deal with each piece of paper once, and then file it away or trash it. Do the same with e-mail: either answer it, read it, or delete it. If if requires more thought, put it in a separate folder to tackle later.

Make a decision. Any decision. Nothing is worse than the stagnant mental replay of agonzing over the same issue over and over. Being decisive and taking actions is a natural human trait. You’ll feel freer and lighter afterwards – especially if you don’t second guess yourself, which is yet another way of not living in the moment.

Don’t blow a task out of proportion. If something on your to do list seems overwhelming, break it down into smaller steps. The longer you wait to tackle something, the larger it will become in your mind.

Face your fears. Ask yourself what the worst thing that could happen is if you do, or don’t do, the task at hand. Are you afraid to succeed or to fail? By forcing yourself to be honest with yourself, you may be able to cut through your procrastination quickly. Confronting your fears can be challenging, but not confronting them keeps you stuck in a rut.

I’ve never met a cat who procrastinated. Our cats live in the moment. Could it be that once again, they know more than we do when it comes to living the best life?

Are you a procrastinator? What helps you cope?

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10 Comments on Sunday Purrs: stop procrastinating

  1. Man-o-man, you hit the nail with me on this one! Actually it’s nothing that I’m not already aware of, but your post came at a great time to remind me to get back on target. I don’t have problems making decisions, but am very guilty of all the rest! And the creative aspect brought up by Bernadette above—oh yes, here too–so many projects just waiting to begin.

  2. This hits my nail on the head! I lived nearly half my life in fear and only dreamed about what I could do, then I decided to do it. However, I can still be caught playing the same procrastination game enjoyed by creative people the world over–doing everything else that “needs to be done” before starting a new creative work. I know exactly what I’m doing and I laugh at myself, and I let myself play the game for a while. But my long-term solution was my daily sketches–as long as I keep my fingers in creative endeavors it’s not so hard to get started on something new.

  3. As I just posted on Facebook “I couldn’t believe this when I saw it! I was just saying to my husband…”I MUST get my head back in the game!!” The distractions the past few days have been keeping me from work that I need to do for myself……..this couldn’t be more timely and I THANK YOU!”

  4. When I was younger I was a procrastinator – especially when it involved something particularly “difficult” at work… that I’ve reached a “certain age” I know that it’s crazy to put things off – you really never know how much time you have to accomplish those things so GO FOR IT NOW! Good post Ingrid!

    Pam (with Sam on my lap)

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