The Fine Art of Procrastination // Positively Speaking // Mark Wilson

So often, we put off what we really know we should do. That’s called “the fine art of procrastination.”

I challenge you right now to think of something you’ve been putting off.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Why am I avoiding this task?
It is easy to allow fear to keep us from accomplishing what we need to do. Perhaps it’s the fear of what other people think, or maybe the fear of failure. When you let fear call the shots, you never get around to accomplishing anything significant.

Sometimes, we don’t get to work because of laziness. Being lazy might get you out of some effort on the front end, but it always causes more work in the long run.

Maybe the reason for our procrastination is that we are unprepared. It’s difficult to accomplish a task when we do not begin with proper tools and resources. Is there anything that needs to get done before you get things done?

2. What will happen if it never gets done?
Sometimes, we waste our time and energy on unnecessary issues. Does this job need to be done at all? If it doesn’t really matter, then let it go and quit feeling guilty about it. A Chinese proverb says, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.”

On the other hand, leaving the task undone may lead to disaster.

Life’s most important jobs are often the most difficult, requiring hard work and sacrifice. The temptation is to take short cuts and try to “get by” with mediocrity.

But you never get by with “getting by” — sloppy work and short cuts catch up with you sooner or later. As the great composer, Chopin, observed, “Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on.”

3. Whose idea was it for me to do this in the first place?
Often, the reason why we procrastinate is because we didn’t bargain for the job. Somehow, it was dumped on us. God loves you, and everybody else has a plan for your life!

The best remedy for over-commitment is learning to say “no” often — kindly and firmly.

It’s hard to get excited about somebody else’s program. When you own it, however, you gladly get the job done.

The word “authenticity” literally means “to author”. Allowing everybody else to author your life erodes your true self and results in “going through the motions” without putting your whole heart into it.

“Time is the coin of life, ” said Carl Sandburg, “It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”

4. Does it have to be perfect?
Perfectionism can keep us from doing something good. Spoken or not, the message is, “If it’s not perfect, I won’t do it.”

Although we should strive for excellence, we must not allow an obsession with perfection to keep us from beginning. A less than perfect finish is far better than not starting at all.

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