Now and Later Choice Leads Often to Procrastination

My Secret Battle with Procrastination

One of the toughest things I battle in my life is procrastination. My natural response is I’ll do it later.

There’s a part of me that despises that procrastinator and wages a daily war to defeat it. That’s how I’ve come to rely on the power of habits and routines. If I can avoid having to make a decision, I lose the choice to put it off until later.

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Habits are those things we do so often, they become automatic. Take my MacBook Pro. You’d be shocked to know just how many hours a day I am on this thing. The keyboard is part of me. My muscles have totally memorized every stroke, the location of every key. Until something changes. 

Due to a series of technical complications, I was forced to move the dock from the bottom of my screen to the left side. We’re talking about a 90-degree relocation from horizontal to vertical. And I’m ready to be committed. 

Everything in me wants that dock at the bottom. Every muscle recalls exactly where each tool should be. For nearly three weeks I have battled this annoying change and it is driving me to the brink of insanity. My routines are disrupted, my old habit is screaming in torment. My brain, muscles, and fingers are trained to reach effortlessly to get what I need. It was so automatic I didn’t have to think about it. 

I’ve gained a new appreciation for the power of habit. Habits and routines are my allies in my war against procrastination. It takes mental toughness for me to force habits and routines on myself before laziness, stress, and temptation kick in. I’ve learned that when I automate the predictable things in my day, that allows me to react to the unpredictable and take control with flexibility and poise. Procrastination doesn’t stand a chance.

If you have attended a Debt-Proof Living webinar, read my book by the same title or been part of my DebtProofLiving.com family, you know the first step to getting control of your money. It has nothing to do with changing anything. It is simply keeping track of your spending for 30 days: Writing down every way you spend money—every hour of every day—for 30 days. 

Oh, the torment. It’s difficult. That’s because we don’t want to do it. It’s out of routine, it’s a pain. It takes time, it’s easy to forget. Worse, we’d rather not know where all the money goes. 

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Sadly, most people start out with great intentions to track their spending but give up before noon on the first day. They’re weak, coddled by the culture that says “Don’t worry about it! If you run out of money you can just use a credit card to get by.” Or that inner procrastinator that assures, “Go easy, you can do it tomorrow.” 

Does Anything here sound familiar? If so, are you ready to kick your procrastinator to the curb so you can work on creating a new money habit? Great. 

Every morning start with a fresh piece of paper or a new note on your phone—whatever works for you. Determine to record every way you spend money today. Just write down “what for” and “how much.” At the end of the day take a look. Wow. Ok. Do it again tomorrow. And the next day.

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After about four days it will become more routine. After three weeks you will have established a new habit. Notice how your spending changes, if for no other reason that you just don’t want to write it down! You’ll be on your way and ready to take control of your financial situation.

As of earlier this week, I believe I’ve conquered this dock relocation. Finally, that “automatic” thing is starting to kick in. I’m pretty sure I’ll have a new habit by Friday.

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Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1=Not At All and 10=Oh, Baby!, where would you put yourself on the Procrastination Scale? I love to read your comments, so make ’em entertaining 🙂

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3 replies
  1. Jeannie
    Jeannie says:

    I have been putting off writing the perfect, entertaining comment to your article because not only do I suffer from procrastination but perfectionism as well. : )
    Seriously, a very good article. For our thoughts become our actions, which become our habits, which become our character, which becomes our destiny.
    Thank you, Mary!

    Reply
  2. Marcia Pharr West
    Marcia Pharr West says:

    Procrastination is my sin,
    It brings me constant sorrow.
    I really must stop doing it,
    In fact, I’ll do that tomorrow!

    Reply
  3. Cris
    Cris says:

    I am a card carrying professional procrastinator. I don’t deny it. In fact I at times proudly advertised it. I truly believed my best work was produced when I am under a tremendous amount of stress. As I have risen through the ranks in my profession, procrastination was becoming a problem that could no longer be put off. In fact, I had to take action now. But what I really wanted to know was why I did it.

    Working with a professional coach I came to realize there is indeed a reason to my madness. While I dread the knowledge that there are things hanging and pending in my life. I mentally obsess for days before due dates of the things have to get done, knowing that if I just stop and do them they will no longer cause the stress. Sounds easy right? Not for me. When my time is up and I am unable to wait a moment longer I attack the tasks under immense self imposed pressure to finish before the drop dead date. The emotional pendulum then swings the other direction and pure giddiness or euphoria will sweep over me. I finished the task and the work was complete! Phew! After the adrenaline wears off the dread soon returns. While this task was complete there were many more like it hanging over by head. Rinse and Repeat.

    After hours of thought, self reflection, and living in the moment of the uncomfortable feelings and emotions, I figured out that what I was doing was recreating the emotional turmoil that I lived through in my younger years. As crazy as it sounds, the emotional swings which make me so uncomfortable now are the the same feelings I lived through back then and they have shaped me into who I am today. A rational adult might say – Why are you doing this to yourself. You have the power to change the situation. And that is true. But it is a habit, decades in the making, that I must abolish and replaced with a new one. And that, takes time.

    I have given myself permission to feel. Permission to love myself for my faults and celebrate my successes. I am, step by step, creating my new normal. So while I haven’t completely tore up my Professional Procrastinators Membership card – yet, I am slowly and surely making new habits that are changing my routine. As the routines change I am able to celebrate new wins and that leads to less stress. I will eventually get to my destination.

    Mary, your article could not have been more timely and appropriate. Kudos to you!

    Reply

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