The need to give importance to what is important

Author: Vasco Gaspar

Excuses and procrastination

Have you ever gone through the scenario of standing in the kitchen after a meal, gazing at stacks of plates and speculating to wash them the next day? I bet this is quite a common scene for many of you. We do not only postpone small tasks like doing the dishes but this also happens with important issues such as preparing a report, going for a periodic visit to the doctor, etc… Thoughts like “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “Right now I do not have enough time / money / desire,” are common to all of us but have you ever thought up to what extent are we accumulating “loose ends” in our lives?

Now the problem that gets created, when we keep on postponing, is not only more work to resolve but also unnecessary worries that occupy our mental space and consume our mental peace. The more we procrastinate (correct term for this “sport”), the less control we have over our lives. Therefore we have less time to do what we want, and feel more stressed in our day-to-day life.”Prayers” or wishes won’t wash the dishes neither “sticking your head in the sand” and waiting, will help in solving the problem. It has been said that “the best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm”. So how to stop procrastinating?

The first step is to prioritize the tasks that are important and / or the ones that have to be completed urgently. (Make a list if needed!)

Once the tasks identified, the second step is to be aware when we are procrastinating (often we do it without realizing it).

After setting our priorities and gaining awareness, it is important to identify the five “classic” excuses we usually use to postpone things:

- The typical “song”: I am very busy and have no time

If you look closely it is an illusion because our time is often occupied by “unnecessary” tasks or non-urgent ones.

- I can do it “whenever I want” (but actually … don’t)

By having thoughts like this, we are minimizing the importance of the task, rating it as simple and hence postpone it consecutively.

- It does not inspire me

To escape any discomfort we say this, as there are tasks that are really annoying to us.

- I do not want to do it

The fear of making mistakes allows comfortable excuses like the above. Instead a more appropriate justification would be “I will fail”.

- Right now I don’t feel like doing it / I’m tired now / it’s raining / it’s not the perfect time.

This is another one of the most typical excuses we usually use.

Once you “catch” yourself procrastinating, the third step is to counter this trend. Here I give you some hints on how to orientate yourself in the right direction:

- The 5 minute tactic: decide to “try out” the task for a short period of time. Many times we get caught in the task and when we realize, it is already finished;
- Small steps: if the task seems too complex, try dividing it into simpler activities, addressing one at a time;
- Public commitment: if we share our goals with others this will help us to be more committed to actually achieve them.

Basically, the main “trick” is …START! Try as hard as you can, not to be “busy getting busy” and for really essential tasks, remember that for every “clean plate” you wash you will be closer to an “immaculate kitchen.”

Now, remember the task (YOUR DISH) that “popped-up” in your mind several times while reading this article? You no longer have any excuses for not doing it next. Go and start it. You will see how it really feels good at the end of the day.

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  1. Robert Boogaard said on July 24th at 7:25 pm:

    Great article… I am getting my lawnmower out and doing my garden :-)

  2. Kevin said on July 25th at 4:33 pm:

    Many thanks for finding the time to explain the terminlogy to the beginners!

  3. Vasco Gaspar said on August 4th at 4:30 pm:

    Thank you Robert! :)
    Thank you Kevin!

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