Stop Putting Things Off: The Negative Effects of Procrastination
I’ve been trying to write this blog entry for about a week, but…I keep putting it off. Each time I look at my computer, there it is, the empty file titled “Procrastination blog entry.” Mocking me. Taunting me. Sapping my energy in ways that don’t feel immediately obvious.
See, each time I saw that file I felt bad. Guilty. “There’s another thing I haven’t gotten done yet but should,” I thought. “But I just don’t have time right now.” Unfortunately, however, I DID have time to feel bad about it. And I did. The irony that this was a post about procrastination just made my guilt worse. And each time I felt bad, I used up mental and emotional energy. Energy that could have, and should have, been put into writing the blog in the first place. Crazy, huh?
But we do this stuff all the time. Pulled in a million different directions, how can we not? Well, if we were more aware of how draining procrastination really is, maybe we would stop doing it. You know, like, maybe tomorrow.
So let’s think about it. Think about the chores or tasks you have been postponing. And I’m not even talking about something as daunting or dreaded as cleaning out the garage. I’m talking about the simpler stuff, like calling your friend back (you know, the one who has recently resorted to stalking?) or cleaning out your closet. Every time you think about that friend, or walk by your closet, you leave a little piece of yourself. You feel bad, guilty…which leads to “I can’t seem to do it all” which leads to “I’m a bad/lazy/selfish person.” All of this emotional processing takes energy, energy which would be much better utilized if it were applied to the problem in the first place.
So…what to do? First, let’s all start acknowledging that the dusty tchotchkes on your shelf are eating you alive. Literally. Second, start to think of priorities. Use your time in a way that most benefits you. Not necessarily what you would LIKE to be doing (probably the number one reason for procrastination), but what would be most beneficial. If the messy closet or neglected friend bothers you, then make them a priority. Use the energy you would normally use to talk yourself out of the guilt to take action. Make the phone call. Clean up the mess. Your energy will be freed for more worthy pursuits, such as writing blog entries.