When you wait because you are uncertain as to whether or not you should do something, that’s wisdom; but when you are certain of what you should do and don’t do it, that is procrastination.
Example #1: Your tooth hurts and you know that it needs attention, but you’ve been to dentists before and you came away with fear and dread because they hurt you. So you avoid going. That’s procrastination.
Example #2: Your mother died of cancer and you are in your mid‑40’s. You discover a small lump in your breast. You know you should have it checked, but you don’t. That’s procrastination.
Example #3: You’re afraid to check your bank account balance. You suspect that you are probably overdrawn but keep avoiding taking a look at it. That’s procrastination.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23
How do you break out of the habit once it has become part of your nature? It can be done. First, you have to realize that procrastination is a choice—not a genetic predisposition, something you can’t change. Your resolve to deal with issues has to be greater than the gravitational pull of your bad habits. You can be a different person. How?
Guideline #1: Set goals for yourself that are within reach of your abilities.
Goals that are unrealistic are worse than none at all because unreached goals depress you. Get those goals written down. An old Chinese philosopher said it 2500 years ago: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Getting goals written down is the first step towards a long accomplishment.
Guideline #2: Prioritize your goals, listing the most important ones first, then list the rest in order of importance or deadline.
Paul said it: “Redeeming the time because the days are evil” (KJV), or as another translation puts it, “Making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). Do you imagine that Jesus, as a young boy, fooled around, not getting His work done in the carpenter’s shop, and then slipping around behind the shop, performed a miracle so He didn’t have to do His chores? Not likely. Once you have made your list of goals, focus on your number one task, and…
Guideline #3: Stay with your task until it is finished.
It’s right here that a lot of us get tripped up by either avoiding the tough or unpleasant task or giving up on it before we have finished it. Dr. Charles Hobbs, the creator of Time Power seminars, tells a story about the man who always began eating the crust of a pie first. Why? Because he liked the crust best? No! Actually, he disliked it intensely, but feeling guilty when he avoided eating it, he ate it first. He probably did the same thing when it came to doing unpleasant tasks as well.
Guideline #4: Give that unlikable task your best attempt.
“Find a motivation that’s bigger than the pain,” say efficiency experts. What do you think motivated Jesus, working alongside his father as a laborer? Here was the creator of the universe working away on the most mundane of jobs; do you think Jesus just did a “good enough” job when it was something he really didn’t want to do? Jesus had a greater motivation—to please God the Father. Paul gave us motivation for excellence when he wrote: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward” (Colossians 3:23).
Guideline #5: When you know that something must be done, do it, and do it as soon as possible.
Do it, say it, write it, teach it, but do it. Tomorrow may be too late.
Resource reading: Colossians 3:1-17